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Unbeaten Kilkenny should just edge what’s going to be a very tight camogie final

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Full-back Grace Walsh will be a key player for Kilkenny. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Full-back Grace Walsh will be a key player for Kilkenny. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Full-back Grace Walsh will be a key player for Kilkenny. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Even in the storied history of Cork, tomorrow has the potential to be one of the great days for the county.

The Rebels contest both the senior and intermediate finals and have an interest in the premier junior decider too, where their former star Jenny Curry has thrown in her lot with Armagh.

Top of the list, however, will be the pursuit of a first senior title since 2018, with the county now just 60 minutes from extending their lead at the top of the game’s roll of honour.

Cork spluttered in their semi-final, failing to score for 24 minutes as Waterford set the pace, but they eventually found their feet – hitting the last eight scores of the game to book another final appearance.

Cork boss Matthew Twomey insists his side have yet to produce a 60-minute performance this year – and that was certainly the case in the semi final, where the Déise made most of the running and for long periods looked set for an All-Ireland final appearance.

However, Cork’s fortunes in the semi-final changed with the introduction of star midfielder Ashling Thompson, who was eligible to play after seeing her suspension lifted on appeal just that morning.

And she helped to gradually turn the game in Cork’s favour.

They didn’t hit the front until four minutes from time against the Déise, with former Down star Sorcha McCartan and Amy O’Connor hitting 0-8 of their 0-15 tally between them. But they carry scoring threats in several positions, and Emma Murphy chipped in with a crucial point when introduced from the bench and generally looked lively.

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Kilkenny have shown typical defiance to get to this stage.

Manager Brian Dowling, essentially, had to rebuild his team after losing a handful of key figures including Colette Dormer and the Doyle sisters, Kellyann and Aoife, who both suffered cruciate injuries.

They settled on a strong core for their defence, with Grace Walsh, sister of Tommy and Pádraig, showing the family trait of being able to play anywhere and settling in at full-back.

In front of her, Claire Phelan has been a steadying influence in the number six shirt, while the return of Julianne Malone has been a boost. And despite tinkering with their team at times, Kilkenny have shown remarkable consistency and remain unbeaten through the league and championship this term, including toppling reigning All-Ireland champions Galway in their semi-final clash.

To get over Cork, coached by Davy Fitzgerald, the Cats will have to limit the influence of midfield pair Thompson and Hannah Looney.

And the expected duel between Libby Coppinger and Miriam Walsh could also have a big say on the destination of this year’s All-Ireland.

The bookmakers make Kilkenny favourites, the league meeting between the sides ended in a draw – and it will be no surprise if this is similarly tight.

Verdict: Kilkenny

CORK – A Lee (capt); M Murphy, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; L Hayes, L Treacy, S McCarthy; H Looney, A Thompson; K Mackey, F Keating, C Sigerson; C Healy, S McCartan, A O’Connor. Subs: M Lynch, E Murphy, C O’Sullivan, O McAllen, K Wall, K O’Mahony, I O’Regan, O Cahalane, A Egan, M Ring, A Hurley, A Smith, E Flanagan, A O’Neill, H O’Leary.

KILKENNY – A Norris; M Teehan, G Walsh, T Fitzgerald; N Deely, C Phelan, L Murphy; S Fitzgerald, K Power; D Gaule, M Kenneally, J Malone; M O’Connell, M Walsh, K Nolan. Subs: E Kavanagh, A Prendergast (capt), M Bambrick, S Dwyer, C Phelan, A McHardy, S Crowley, L Fennelly, S O’Keeffe, A Curtis, R Breen, C O’Keeffe, L Norris, C Comerford, M Corcoran.


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