Sunday 21 January 2018

CAMOGIE: Rebels raise the bar after trouncing tepid Tipp

Cork 0-12 Tipperary 0-4 ANOTHER shot at a successive 'Rebel Treble' may be gone but Cork's double dream is still very much alive for seven of their women after their stunning and comprehensive Gala camogie title defence in Croke Park yesterday.

Dynasties come and go in every sport and the reigning champions' assured display, which astonishingly contained Tipperary to just a single point in the second half - and then only in injury-time - indicated that the Rebelettes, winning their 22nd title, are set to be camogie's new standard-bearers.

Their half-backs in particular, lived up to the sort of vaunted reputation usually saved for their male counterparts.

But every single one of their defenders, from goalkeeper Aoife Murray to wing-back Anna Neary, provided the platform which forced Tipperary to make the sort of sporting history they'll want to forget.

Only in 1944, when Antrim were kept completely scoreless by Dublin, has a losing side scored less in a senior camogie final.

You have to go back a full 26 years to find the last team to score only four times (Limerick's 2-2 in 1980) in camogie's blue riband.

Tipperary famously set the standard in the last decade, contesting the last eight finals and winning five of them but yesterday proved that the loss of five of their marquee players to retirement was too much to bear in the heat of All-Ireland battle.

Pairing the match with the men's U21 final improved the attendance to 20,685 from last year's 14,350 but affected it as a spectacle. Compared to the curtain-raiser it lacked sparkle and scores and was actually the first goalless final in the game's 75-year history.


But that is testament to some brilliant defence on both sides and only one of the game's 16 scores - Jennifer O'Leary's fourth and final point for Cork - actually came from a free.

The big question beforehand was whether Tipperary's transitional side could summon the hunger to do to Cork's champions what Kilkenny had done to their men a week earlier?

The Rebel women answered it emphatically by showing not a whiff of complacency. They looked fitter, faster, sharper and hungrier throughout and were still hunting in defensive packs right to the final whistle.

The game finally opened up a little in the fourth quarter as Tipp were forced to chase goals but on every occasion heroic 'keeper Aoife Murray and her defenders shone.

Her counterpart Jovita Delaney had to pull off a super save when Jenny O'Leary bore down on goal just nine minutes after throw-in and the game still looked finely balanced at half-time when Cork led by 0-6 to 0-3.

With three points by the break, O'Leary was the game's only forward allowed take early flight but Cork should have been more ahead at the break. They had wasted the more obvious chances (three wides) but Tipperary were guilty of dropping a lot of shots short.

Tipp could not have asked more of their own full-back line, nor centre-back captain Philly Fogarty or tireless midfielder Joanne Ryan who had a mammoth and fascinating tussle with Briege Corkery.

Proved vital

But on resumption, with Briege Corkery and Gemma O'Connor - whose switch in last year's final had proved vital - bossing midfield, Cork coolly pulled six points clear with better outside shooting before the game's only real fireworks.

First Delaney made another good save from O'Leary and then, with 10 minutes left, came a series of heroics in the Cork goalmouth, with shots from Trish O'Halloran and another from Emily Hayden scrambled away in a frenetic finale. Even in the dying minutes Cork's defenders forced out two '45s from which goal-chasing Tipp could not score and, meanwhile, all Cork's forwards had to do was wait for the clearances and take their scores sensibly, which Una O'Donoghue did twice.

It was only in the 63rd minute that Emily Hayden finally got Tipp's fourth score and for that every one of Cork's defence - but especially Caitriona Foley, Rena Buckley and Anna Geary - must take huge credit while their midfield of dual star Corkery and Gemma O'Connor provided the engine throughout.

Player of the Match - Rena Buckley (Cork)

SCORERS - Cork: J O'Leary 0-4 (1f), G O'Connor, E Dillon, U O'Donoghue 0-2 each, B Corkery and R Moloney 0-1 each. Tipperary: E Hayden 0-2, J Ryan, E McDonnell 0-1 each.

CORK - A Murray; J O'Callaghan (Capt), C Foley, A O'Regan; R Buckley, M O'Connor, A Geary; G O'Connor, B Corkery; R Moloney, A Walsh, J O'Leary; E Dillon, U O'Donoghue, E Burke. Subs: S O'Donovan for Burke (36 mins), O Cotter for Walsh (49).

TIPPERARY - J Delaney; S Kelly, U O'Dwyer, J Kirwan; M Shortt, P Fogarty (Capt), S Nealon; C Grogan, J Ryan; J Horan, E Hayden, C Hennessy; E McDonnell, L Young, G Kinnane. Subs: L Bourke for Young (half-time), T O'Halloran for Hennessy (45), M Ryan for Horan (48).

REF - F MacNamara (Clare).

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