Cork prove too strong for underperforming Galway

Heartbreak for Galway players after losing Sunday’s All Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final to Cork.  INPHO/Tommy Grealy

Heartbreak for Galway players after losing Sunday’s All Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final to Cork. INPHO/Tommy Grealy

Cork fully merited their 1-13 to 0-9 victory over Galway in Sunday's  All-Ireland Senior Camogie final at Croke Park.

The Cork women won the county's 26th title, pushing them level with Dublin on the honours list last weekend; Galway are still on the search for what would be a third title at this grade - those two successes coming in 1996 and 2013.

While Cork were full value for their seven-point win, Galway will be irritated they failed to perform to capability.

Only three or four of the team really played up to par over the hour, with Sarsfield's Niamh McGrath the only Galway forward to make a decisive impression on the scoreboard with eight points. And while seven of those points came from frees, some of them were terrific efforts, and her point from play was one of the scores of the day.

A lot of credit for Galway's underwhelming performance from a scoring perspective must go to Cork's power, fitness, huge work-rate and defensive set-up. 

Galway only scored 0-2 from play

That said, Tony Ward and his management team of Liam Hodgins and Orla Watson will be disappointed that only two of their forwards were able to get on the score sheet, and that they could only muster two points from play over the full hour.

No team can expect to win an All-Ireland title with that sort of return, and that was a major problem for the side last weekend.

Despite being well beaten in many sectors in the first half, Galway were only behind by four points at half time, (0-8 to 0-4 ), when it could have been a lot worse.

To their credit Galway did pull it back to 0-8 to 0-7 early in the second half and they looked to have some momentum at that stage with Niamh McGrath hitting a few superb frees.

However, two extremely harsh frees were given against them by referee Ray Kelly (Kildare ) at that juncture (in the 42nd and 46th minute ) and both resulted in Cork points. At 0-10 to 0-7, Cork never looked like being caught. 

Once Briege Corkery hit a decisive goal on 54 four minutes following a defensive mistake by Galway, the game was over as a contest and Cork won in the end, pulling up. 

A major problem for Galway was the amount of ball eight-times All-Star Gemma O'Connor hoovered up in the centre-back position. Her reading of the game and distribution was excellent, but it seemed strange  Galway had no one able to nullify her. 

The 2014 and 2015 champions will be hard to beat next year too as they have blooded some fine young players following a raft of retirements last season.

Two other Cork players who have been on the go for more than a decade are Corkery and wing-back Rena Buckley, both of whom brought their individual tallies of All-Ireland senior medals to 15, six of which have come in camogie. 

Both will be aiming for All-Ireland medal number 16 on Sunday week in the All-Ireland football final against Dublin which would be a remarkable achievement and testament to their commitment to both codes, and their talent and durablility.

Galway team manager Tony Ward, who was the senior manager on the only two occasions that Galway have lifted the O'Duffy Cup, was forthright in his assessment of the game.

"For 10 minutes in the second half we had them on the rails, but our time didn't last long enough. When their goal came, it put paid to our chances really. We weren't getting a spread of scores. Cork were very defensive and closed us out all day long. It just didn't happen on the day and it wasn't our day. We didn't open them up like we have been doing all year and that can happen."

Best for Galway on the day were Niamh McGrath, Lorraine Ryan, who was valiant to the end, Siobhán Coen, Sarah Dervan, Heather Cooney, and team captain Niamh Kilkenny, who made a few surging runs in the first half that won a few scorable frees.

Galway: Susan Earner (Eyrecourt ), Therese Manton (Mullagh ), Sarah Dervan (Mullagh ), Heather Cooney (St Thomas ), Siobhán Coen (Ballinderreen ), Shauna Healy (Ardrahan ), Lorraine Ryan (Kiltullagh/Killimordaly ), Niamh Kilkenny (cpt ) (Pearses ), Clodagh McGrath (Sarsfields ), A Donohue 0-1 (Mullagh ), Niamh McGrath 0-8 (7fs ) (Sarsfields ), Finola Keeley (St Thomas ), Catherine Finnerty (Mountbellew/Moylough ), Molly Dunne (Eyrecourt ), Ailish O’Reilly (Oranmore/Maree ). Subs used: Jessica Gill (Athenry ), Sinéad Cahalan (Mullagh ), Rebecca Hennelly (Ardrahan ).

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