Focus already switches to All-Ireland camogie after Galway league success

Galway 2-14 Liege 1-13

Not for the first time in Littlewoods Ireland’s National Camogie League Division One campaign this year, Galway proved they had the resilience and character to salvage a result from a tight spot on Saturday night, when came back from six points to beat Cork by four. points in the Division One Final at Croke Park.

Scoring 1-4 off the bench, Carrie Dolan completely transformed the contest and it’s a measure of how hard it is to beat Galway at the moment that even though Dolan scoffed at the decision to drop her from the starting 15, the women of the tribe were marching towards a new national trophy.

“We try to pick the fit team, the starting squad was the one we thought the players were fit for at the time,” manager Cathal Murray said. “Carrie was outstanding. She really pushed us and that’s what we wanted her to do, to be honest with you.”

Dolan’s 1-4, a well-scored goal from Catherine Finnerty and a late insurance point from Sabina Rabbitte saw the Galway bench contribute 2-5 in the second half. Meanwhile, the Cork side as a whole added just three points from the 31st minute – a single point from impressive wing-back Saoirse McCarthy and two free stoppages from Katrina Mackey.

Matthew Twomey admitted that “we didn’t have an answer for them, which is a shame”.

“It was similar last year in the All-Ireland final, we scored a goal and they came back to us. Our pace went down a bit and they excelled, and they scored two vital goals”.

Twomey, who hopes to welcome Hannah Looney and Orla Cronin back to the Cork panel in the next two to three weeks, said this year’s league has been hugely beneficial for his group, although he was disappointed Cork had lost in another close match. match against Galway, their fifth consecutive loss against the Westerners.

“Ten players made their league debut, seven played at Croke Park for the first time in this game,” he said.

“It was bonus territory and we put ourselves in a great position early in the second half. It’s disappointing we didn’t kick off, but we’re learning all the time. We learn about the players and even about ourselves, we also have to look at ourselves from a tactical point of view,” he added, referring to the performance of his own management team.

There were certainly a lot of positives for the Rebels. Aishling Thompson, Saoirse McCarthy and Laura Hayes were excellent in the first half, netting six points between them before half-time while dominating the midfield and half-back.

Laura Treacy covered the heart of the defense very well, while Fiona Keating shrugged off a hand injury to score two excellent points.

However, it was a different story after half-time. Amy O’Connor rattled the net with the first score after the restart to make it 1-10 at 0-7, but Galway quickly lost the lead, and goals from Finnerty and Dolan after 44 and 50 minutes gave them a steer they wouldn’t give up.

“We have been in difficult situations at different times over the past two years; in Callan last year, the All-Ireland final against Cork last year and again today, and against Tipperary a few weeks ago in Ballinasloe,” Murray said.

“We were very lucky to get out of it, but it’s a good sign of the team.

“But we’re not going to get carried away either. The same was said of Kilkenny last year when they won the league after winning All-Ireland.

“Cork are going to learn a huge amount from this, Kilkenny and Tipperary and all those teams looking are going to learn a huge amount. We are halfway through a year, but as players and managers we are going to be judged on our performance in the All-Ireland series. Ultimately Cork will take the league loss if they win All-Ireland at the end of the year,” he warned.

Galway: S Healy; Hanniffy R, Dervan S, Shauna Healy; R Black, E Helebert, D Higgins; A Donohue (0-1), N Kilkenny (0-1); N Hanniffy, A O’Reilly (0-5, 2 free), Á Keane (0-1); O McGrath (0-1), R Hennelly, S McGrath.

Replacements: C Finnerty (1-0) for Keane (38 minutes), C Dolan (1-4, 3 free), for S McGrath (38 minutes), S Rabbitte (0-1) for O’Reilly (59 minutes) , S Spellman for Hanniffy (60+2 min), T Kenny for Black (60+2 min).

Cork: A Lee; L Coppinger, L Treacy, M Cahalane; S McCarthy (0-3), M Murphy, L Hayes (0-1); K O’Mahoney, A Thompson (0-3); K Mackey (0-3, 2 free), C Sigerson (0-1, free), I O’Regan; C Healy, F Keating (0-2), A O’Connor (1-0).

Replacements: E Murphy for Healy (30 mins), M Ring for Sigerson (52 mins), A Smith for Keating (60+2 mins).