Thursday 18 January 2018

Thompson and Cork in ‘heaven’ as titles stack up

Liberty insurance all-Ireland senior Camogie final: Cork 1-13 Galway 0-9

Julia White of Cork tries to escape the clutches of Galway’s Siobhan Coen during yesterday’s senior camogie final in Croke Park
Julia White of Cork tries to escape the clutches of Galway’s Siobhan Coen during yesterday’s senior camogie final in Croke Park
Galway captain Shauna Healy dejected during the cup presentation
Galway's Finola Keeley battle with Rena Buckley, Cork
Cork's Katriona Mackey sprints ahead of Heather Cooney, Galway
Cork captain Ashling Thompson lifts the O'Duffy cup

Daragh ó Conchúir

Briege Corkery worked the oracle once more for Cork with a 54th-minute goal putting the exclamation mark on another typical all-action display and setting the seal on an historic victory.

The outstanding Rebelettes now join Dublin at the top of the championship roll of honour with 26 titles, while Corkery and team-mate Rena Buckley brought their individual tally of All-Ireland senior medals to 15 each, with their sixth camogie success going alongside nine ladies football wins.

With a return to Croke Park for another football decider in a fortnight marked in the diary, the dual stars will have another chance of adding to their remarkable records.


If Corkery's play was the key one, it was the displays of Gemma O'Connor and Orla Cotter in particular that really stood out, while full-back Laura Treacy and skipper Ashling Thompson were also significant performers.

Thompson was quite emotional as she climbed the Hogan Stand steps to get her hands on the O'Duffy Cup, admitting that it had meant so much to her after her much-publicised battles with depression.

She was intent, however, on placing the emphasis on the refusal of her team-mates to bow the knee.

"Unless you break your legs, you have to keep going," she smiled at one stage.

"This is what we came here to do. Every team gets a purple patch and we said that at half-time.

"It was nil-nil again. Some people don't even know the score. We never take any notice.

"We never threw in the towel and that's the difference between Cork camogie and anyone else. When the going gets tough, who's going to throw the towel in first and that certainly wasn't us, so we got the result we wanted today.

"That's the dream come true and it puts the icing on my career. It's everything I've worked for... for everything I've been through in my own life and it tops it for me.

"It was like I was taking the steps to heaven on my own, but it certainly isn't that way, (I was) taking the steps to heaven with 30 players. Cork camogie, our management, everyone, I just can't thank them enough."

Remarkably, Cork were down 13 players from the panel that won last year's All-Ireland and had lost twice to Galway already this year, but they seemed to learn from those reverses.

Certainly, they dictated terms completely in the first half and had they offloaded a bit quicker when creating overlaps, rather than running into contact, they would have led by more than 0-8 to 0-4 at half-time.

Galway certainly seemed off the pace slightly in the first half as O'Connor hoovered up possession effortlessly, while Cotter came up with some big plays.

Thompson got the champions off the mark with an early point and Cotter notched up the first three of seven points, with Niamh McGrath landing a brilliant equaliser from the left wing for Galway.

That was to be the Tribeswomen's only score from play until Aoife Donohue struck and they never carried a sufficient offensive threat.

McGrath, who scored all bar that Donohue point for Galway, kept Tony Ward's team in touch, but with Cotter and Corkery doing the business at the other end, it was double scores at the break.

Galway thundered into the fray after the resumption, though, and three pointed frees from McGrath, including one from just short of the 65-metre line, reduced the margin to one.

The challengers were in full flow now, with Lorraine Ryan in no mood to yield, while Heather Cooney made a stunning block to deny a certain goal.

Julia White also had a goal correctly ruled out for a square ball, but Cotter came up with a big point from play to stop the rot and Cork never really looked back. Once Corkery intercepted Shauna Healy's attempted clearance and raced through to slot calmly into the Galway net, Cork opened their shoulders and Thompson landed a monstrous score late on, followed by a Katrina Mackey point to signal the start of the celebrations.

"It's huge," added Thompson. "We love being the underdog. We love being doubted. When people try to knock you down, what are you gonna do? Stay down or react and we most certainly reacted."

Scorers - Cork: O Cotter 0-7(5f); B Corkery 1-1; A Thompson 0-2; O Cronin, A O'Connor, K Mackey 0-1 each. Galway: N McGrath 0-8(7f); A Donohue 0-1.

Cork - A Murray 7; P Mackey 8, L Treacy 9, L O'Sullivan 7; R Buckley 7, G O'Connor 9, M Cahalane 7; O Cotter 9, A Thompson 8; J White 7, O Cronin 7, K Mackey 7; H Looney 6, B Corkery 8, A O'Connor 7. Subs: E O'Sullivan 6 for Looney (35); M Walsh 6 for O'Sullivan (60+2).

Galway - S Earner 7; T Manton 7, S Dervan 7, H Cooney 7; S Coen 7, S Healy 6, L Ryan 8; N Kilkenny 7, C McGrath 6; A Donohue 6, N McGrath 8, F Keeley 6; C Finnerty 5, M Dunne 6, A O'Reilly 6. Subs: J Gill 6 for Finnerty (h-t), S Cahalan 6 for Healy (58), R Hennelly for C McGrath (60+1).

Ref- R Kelly (Kildare)

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