Stylish sportswoman Lauren Guilfoyle caught us up to speed on yesterday’s Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League matches. Five games took place on Sunday afternoon, and the league table is starting to take shape.
Kilkenny vs Waterford
Kilkenny are sitting firmly on top of Group 2 with five points separating Ann Downey’s side from the chasing pack. The Cats recorded their third win of the campaign over near neighbours Waterford on a scoreline of 1-14 to 0-8. The girls in black and amber got off to a sprinting start and Grace O’Donnell had the games’ only green flag raised by the eleventh minute. The Kilkenny point total was kept ticking over as Miriam Walsh, Katie Power and Anne Dalton were on form.
In contrast, Beth Carton contributed all of the Deise’s first half scores – three of her four coming from placed balls. The second period can be summarised as a shootout between Kilkenny’s Miriam Walsh and Denise Gaule against the ever-dominant Carton, but her efforts weren’t enough as they headed home with a nine point defeat to mull over. Kilkenny are on cruise control heading into their nearly assured semi-final spot, as Waterford need to get maximum points against Limerick and Dublin to see their spot in the final four.
Clare vs Limerick
Clare and Limerick set up the second local derby of the weekend’s fixtures with Clare requiring a win to keep themselves in contention with two games to play. Orla Devitt and Chloe Morey opened up Clare’s account early on but a lead wasn’t allowed develop as Mulcahy’s accuracy from both play and frees kept Limerick’s hopes up. Feakle’s Regan Conway eventually widened the gap just before the stroke of half time.
She made use of her quick hands upon plucking the dropping ball from an Eimear Kelly free from the Clare half of the field, and then delivering to the back of the Limerick net. The goal would prove a significant factor in the final result. Cliona Lane assisted Mulcahy in their attempt to catch up in the second period, but Chloe Morey’s unerring accuracy from both short and long range frees sealed Clare’s first win of the campaign in Rathkeale – 1-8 to 0-9.
Dublin vs Meath
Dublin also recorded their first win of their league campaign, following a draw with Limerick in round one, and defeat to Kilkenny in round two. Meath, while still struggling to find their feet at senior level, brought a huge amount of intensity and physicality to the Dubs. However, they couldn’t reap the rewards on the scoreboard enough to see them claim maximum points.
Naomh Fionnbarra player Siobhan Kehoe hit a total of 0-8 for the girls in blue, while Meath’s performance was their most fruitful to date, having only scored a combined 8 points in their previous two games, Aoife Maguire and Amy Gaffney hitting five from play between them.
Wexford vs Offaly
Group one leaders Cork were without a game this weekend, such is the nature of the odd number of teams in their group. This allowed Wexford to catch up in the leaderboard with a win over Offaly. A game originally mooted as a double header with the Faithful’s men against Limerick in the hurling equivalent, the game was then rescheduled to St Rynaghs. Una Leacy and Joanne Dillon were in goalscoring form as the girls from the sunny southeast had too much for Offaly who continue to seek their first points of the campaign. The game finished 0-8 to 2-11.
Galway vs Tipperary
Their respective county champions, Burgess Duharra and Sarsfields, faced each other in the All-Ireland club semi final last weekend, and the same pairing of Galway and Tipperary had the same victorious result for the girls from the west. From a development point of view, Tipperary would have approached this game as a way to settle the score after defeat to the same opposition in their home turf in late Summer, but alas, Galway had six to spare at the finish – 2-14 to 0-10.
It was 0-6 a piece at half time, but the second period stepped up a notch and some classy camogie was on display. Aoife Donoghue had her part to play in both Galway goals. One was finished by herself from a stunning 40 metre run, the the other was a free dropped into the square to the waiting Nora Hannify who converted for three herself. Despite both sitting out a couple of seasons between them through cruciate ligament injuries, Rebecca Hennelly (Galway) and Cait Devane (Tipperary) are truly back to their best free taking form as they got six and eight points on the score sheet respectively. Grace O’Brien snuck in for a green flag herself to aid the Tipperary points difference, but the Premier girls will have to wait until Summer time to avenge that Championship defeat.
A look forward
Kilkenny look set to take top spot in group two, but it’s all to fight for to get the second spot and a semi-final place. Cork and Wexford are top of group one, but Wexford have a game in hand and their first round defeat to the Rebels will most likely be the deciding factor for top spot.
Cork, with two weekends off since their last encounter, will have ramped up the intensity at training and gotten stuck into the dirty work of training to regain their All-Ireland title so I’m expecting a huge statement of intent from them in their last two games. First up is a home game versus Tipperary and then Offaly away, two counties that will absolutely need to win to keep themselves in contention.
The Littlewoods Ireland Camogie leagues take a break for this coming weekend but the vast majority of players will be on action with their respective colleges in the Ashbourne and Purcell competitions. UL and UCC have a huge number of intercounty girls in their lineups, so senior team managements will be keeping a close eye on form and fitness, until the girls regroup with their counties to see out the final two rounds of the league.