The four remaining fixtures in round two of the Littlewoods Ireland camogie leagues were played this weekend. This was following their postponement at the eleventh hour thanks to heavy rainfall on their original date.
Tipperary vs Offaly
Tipperary hosted Offaly in their second home game of the season and will be delighted to have crossed the line with maximum points on offer in the bag. The Premier women’s efforts in their opening game were nullified thanks to an injury time goal to grasp victory from their hands at the death. Lightning was not let occur twice though, as Tipperary were dominant throughout never relinquishing their lead, having nine points to spare at the final whistle.
This gap could easily have been a significant amount smaller were it not for the reflexes of young Tipperary goalkeeper Caoimhe Bourke who is aiming to nail the number one jersey for the 2018 campaign. Her confidence in saving both a penalty and 20 metre free will most definitely be added to her list of ‘pros’ when it comes to championship team selection.
Offaly were perhaps at somewhat of a disadvantage as this game marked their first competitive outing of the season. They sat out the first round of games with a ‘bye’. They’ve blown the Winter cobwebs off now and will be turning attention to the visit of Wexford to the Faithful county next weekend.
Clare vs Waterford
Clare faced the long trip to Carriganore to meet Waterford having lost home advantage due to the unavailability of pitches in the Banner county thanks to the recent inclement weather. The game, played under lights in the astro turf facility at WIT, ended all square with 2-13 a piece. The Deise girls started the brighter and were dominant throughout the first period, led by the exceptional Beth Carton, who finished the game with 1-8 to her name.
Clare were forced to play catch up to remain in contention and drew on considerable experience to ensure they weren’t leaving with zero points to add to the league table. An opportunistic goal from an intercepted short puck out was ruthlessly dispatched to the net of Waterford keeper Ciara Jackman Gaultier by dual player Niamh O’Dea, giving Clare the lead for the first time in the second half.
The Waterford outfit remained calm and added scores above and below the bar through their main threat Carton and looked to have their noses ahead for a one point victory to grab the two points on offer. The opportunity then fell to Sixmilebridge woman Chloe Morey to attempt an equalising score from 60 metres out to level the playing field – and she did just that.
Limerick vs Meath
Meath hosted their first game of their maiden stint in the senior ranks as they welcomed Limerick to Dunganny for their rescheduled fixture. Limerick will have been disappointed to not have seen out victory against Dublin in their first game and made no hesitation in their ruthless second half dismantling of Meath who were limited to one point in each half of play.
It wasn’t all negative for Meath however, as their defensive formation and game plan did hold up for the first thirty minutes of play; and would most likely have been deemed successful were it not for the concession of a green flag from a long range dead ball Niamh Mulcahy effort. Despite having the wind at their backs in the second half, Meath’s inexperience at this level told as the Treaty women put the foot on the accelerator and made no mistake in claiming their first win of their league campaign. The final scoreline read Limerick 2-10, Meath 0-2.
Cork vs Wexford
The final game of the round was the heavyweight clash of traditional rivals Cork and Wexford. Both sides had won their respective first round games and will surely have approached this game knowing the result would most likely have a significant bearing on which team would eventually top the group. Orla Cotter (Cork) and Linda Bolger (Wexford) had a massive part to play in where the two points on offer would be going, Cotter finishing with 10 points and Bolger just short one, finishing with 9 points from placed balls.
Bolger settled the home side’s nerves well with her accuracy from frees, also assisting the creation of the game’s only goal. A first half free from the middle of the park dropped to the left of Cork’s goalmouth and was collected without fuss by Emma Walsh over the heads of a cluster of players. Her own handpassed attempt to the net failed to convert but wing forward Jackie Quigley was perfectly placed to land a rebound shot of her own, raising the first and last green flag of the game.
Both Orla Cotter and Cronin continuously applied pressure to the Wexford defensive structure, confidence in their own ability to close out the game exemplified by Cotter’s decision to take only one of a possible three points on offer from a penalty in the closing stages of the game. The Rebels eventually had two points to spare at the final whistle – 0-15 to 1-10 – and now sit contently at the top of Group One.
Leaderboard and look ahead
Despite the cancellation of the majority of games last weekend, the camogie league is now back on track and unsurprisingly, Kilkenny and Cork are topping their respective groups. Cork are rested next weekend due to the odd number of teams in their group, giving Tipperary and Wexford a chance to catch up to the league leaders. Group one sees a repeat clash of last year’s All Ireland quarter final between Galway and Tipperary. The Tribeswomen will still be without their impressive Sarsfields contigent – including the McGrath sisters – who they will absolutely need in their panel come business end of the league if Galway hope to threaten for silverware.
Kilkenny will welcome Waterford to the Marble city, the Deise women will jump ahead of the Kilkenny girls should they pull off a win, and given the devastating form of Beth Carton, it’s a result that isn’t impossible. The standout game of group two is Clare v Limerick. Both panels would be considered to be of equal strength so neither side will be content with anything other than a win.
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