Galway will be looking for a good start against Cork when the two sides meet in the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship semi-final at the LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick (7.15pm ).
A poor first half against Waterford in the quarter-final will have been addressed this week by manager Cathal Murray, knowing a repeat could see Galway fail to qualify for the final. Instead, he will be looking for his players to play to potential, and if they do, a place in the final would be a deserved reward, and the chance to achieve the double this season.
Galway boast a host of experienced players who are match-winners, none more so than freetaker Carrie Dolan, Niamh Kilkenny at midfield, and a fullward line in which Ailish O’Reilly and Noreen Coen have fired the vital shots all season.
They are led by Sarah Dervan from full-back, and the Galway captain believes the Waterford game will stand to the Tribeswomen on Saturday.
“The first-half was a bit non-existent for us,” she said. “In fairness Waterford put us to the pin of our collar, but in the second-half, the girls stood up, each and every one of them.
“They were wonderful. The heart and determination they showed in the second-half was something I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m just delighted we dug it out. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but it is going to improve us.”
As National League winners, Galway had been hot favourites to dispense with their less experienced rivals, but instead found themselves trailing by four points at half-time. And when the Déise started the second-half better, it took superb defence from goalie Sarah Healy to keep Waterford at bay.
Dervan paid special tribute to Healy, who stepped up from minor hurling to succeed Susan Earner when the long-time goalie retired a few years ago, and she is now blossoming into an elite goalkeeper.
“She is a sharp operator and she was on the money. It will do wonders for her confidence. She’s an outstanding goalie,” says Dervan.
Murray is blessed with a team playing with confidence. O’Reilly has scored 5-15 from five games to date, Coen is on 1-11, and Dolan boasts 27 points. Add in Aoife Donohue, Heather Cooney, Tara Kenny and Lorraine Ryan, and Galway are understandably strong contenders to go all the way.
However they will take nothing for granted against Cork who finished with a points difference of +83 in Group 2. That runners-up Tipperary were on +5 is an indication of their total supremacy, and Murray will be aware that Cork are a well drilled and fit side that will not wilt, but keep Galway on their toes for the entire 70 minutes.
With more All Ireland titles than any county, Cork will be intent on bagging a third in succession, helped by a continuous chain of players with success at minors and intermediate levels. Saoirse McCarthy, Clíona Healy, and Laura Hayes, are all members of the 2018 successful minors, complementing the experience of captain Gemma O’Connor, Orla Cotter and the Mackey sisters, Katrina and Pamela. Amy O’Connor continues to be a threat and Linda Collins has benefited from a consistent 2018 to become firmly established in the attack.
Paudie Murray's Cork has not played for four weeks, which could benefit Galway after their work-out with Waterford. Both sides have the firepower and experience, ensuring the winners of this game will be favourites for the title.