Sheer perseverance paid off as Kilkenny were crowned Gala All-Ireland intermediate camogie champions for the first time, after a 62nd minute injury-time goal from Collette Dormer ensured victory at McDonagh Park, Nenagh on Sunday.
The cliché that goals win games certainly rang true, as a youthful Kilkenny side, backboned by a host of players who already had All-Ireland medals this year, following minor and under 16 successes – bagged four, first half goals, but had to dig deep in the second half after Cork responded strongly on the restart.
Corner-forward Claire Aylward was in tremendous form, scoring 2-3 in the opening half including the first point of the game inside the opening minute.
Cats' half-back's Sinéad Long of Piltown and Windgap's Ann Marie Phelan performed well throughout this game, making some good blocks; especially in the opening half.
However points from Maria Watson, following a pass from midfielder Marie Corkery; and the first of ten points for Michelle Browne; ensured Cork held a 0-2 to 0-1 lead after eight minutes.
But Kilkenny were certainly in flying form and a minute after Browne's point, Collette Dormer snatched the first of her side’s five goals following a well-struck effort.
The groundwork for Dormer's goal came after some excellent play by Michelle Farrell who cut through the Cork defence and gave a precision pass to Dormer, who rifled the ball past Cork goalkeeper Gillian Harrington.
This effort put Kilkenny into a two-point lead, and with Claire Aylward converting her side's second point soon-after, the Cats had built up a 1-2 to 0-2 advantage in the eleventh minute.
Cork centre-half-forward Niamh Dilworth, then had a scoring opportunity ruled wide by the referee, after the umpires initially had indicated for a score.
However this didn't faze the Inniscarra player, who responded with the next point, to leave two points between the sides as the game entered the second quarter.
But on almost each occasion that Cork cut the deficit in the opening half, it was Aylward who popped up with a score for the Cats; this time the Mullinavat player taking the first of her goals in the 17th minute, after good team-work with Michelle Brennan who providrd the pass.
A brace of wides followed for Kilkenny, before Michelle Browne converted a 45 for Cork, with Browne certainly posing a major threat to the Kilkenny defence.
In the 22nd minute, the full-forward attempted to strike a close-range free to the net, but once again the Cats’ rear-guard proved solid at the back, before Claire Aylward opened up a five point gap, with her third point of the game.
A flourish of goals came within a two-minute spell as the interval approached. Lucinda Gahan and Claire Aylward rifled the ball to the net either side of a Niamh Dilworth goal for Cork, with Kilkenny's defence left exposed for the first time – a rarity for the Cats during this game.
Aylward clinched her second goal with 26 and a half minutes played, to open up a 4-3 to 1-4 advantage as the interval approached.
However Michelle Browne had the final say of the half, with her third point ensuring seven points separated the sides at the interval.
Browne showed great accuracy in the second half, as Cork came out strongly after half-time, to outscore Kilkenny by seven points to one in a 13-minute spell; with Michelle Brennan taking her side’s only score during that period.
Although the gap was now reduced to the minimum, both defences proved resilient and it took a further ten minutes for either side to produce the next score.
Again it was Browne who was on target by taking a 54th minute equalising point, although ‘Player of the Match’ Denise Gaule showed great composure in the closing stages of this game, and calmly slotted over a long-range point in the 55th minute to put this Ann Downey managed Kilkenny side back in front.
Although Browne equalised within a minute for Cork, Kilkenny remained firm and again Gaule was involved – this time in sending a long range dead-ball effort in towards the edge of the square, which Dormer capitalised upon to dispatch to the back of the net to clinch the match-winning score.
Kilkenny: Ann Marie Lennon; Lisa Phelan, Elaine O'Shea, Áine Fahey; Sinéad Long, Leann Fennelly, Ann Marie Phelan; Lucinda Gahan (1-0), Jenny Reddy; Claire Ryan, Denise Gaule (0-1, 1f), Michelle Farrell; Michelle Brennan (0-1), Collette Dormer (2-0), Claire Aylward (2-3, 0-2f, 1 45). Subs: Laura Kavanagh for Long (41); Sinéad Kelly for Gahan (46); Hannah Maher for Aylward (52).
Cork: Gillian Harrington; Ann Marie Fleming, Siobhán Gleeson, Christine O'Neill; Maria Walsh, Lucy Hawkes, Regina Curtin; Jennifer Lynch, Marie Corkery; Julia White (0-1), Niamh Dilworth (1-1), Maria Watson (0-1); Charlotte Kearney (0-1), Michelle Browne (0-10, 8f, 2 45), Marion Jagoe. Subs: Katriona Mackey for Dilworth (47); Leah Weste for Lynch (52).
Referee: Alan Lagrue, (Kildare).