Kilkenny will challenge Galway's hopes of second successive camogie crown

Niamh Kilkenny of Galway in action against Collette Dormer of Kilkenny during last year;s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras  Mcdheach/Sportsfile

Niamh Kilkenny of Galway in action against Collette Dormer of Kilkenny during last year;s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Mcdheach/Sportsfile

Galway camogie players defend their All Ireland title on Saturday night (7pm ) when they once again come up against Kilkenny in Croke Park.

Galway won their third crown last season, but they will face a Kilkenny outfit determined to break a hat-trick of final defeats since 2016 and avenge last year's 0-17 to 3-14 defeat.

Although this season's championship has been restructured due to Covid-19, it has not altered the commitment and intent both sides will bring on Saturday evening.

Both counties were group winners to go straight into the semi-finals, with Galway overcoming Tipperary 1-11 to 0-8, while Kilkenny showed their pedigree in their 2-10 to 1-11 victory over Cork.

Galway, having lost to Kilkenny in the 2018 semi-final, turned the tables last year, but manager Cathal Murray knows how good opponents Kilkenny are, saying "it's going to take a massive performance to beat them".

In last year's final Galway prevailed by 3-14 to 0-17 over Kilkenny, but Murray insists the 17 points Kilkenny scored were enough to win a handful of the last All Ireland finals.

Now he is preparing his ladies for an expected Kilkenny ambush, determined not to allow Galway get the better of them for a second time.

As always he will look to Carrie Dolan, whose goal against Tipperary was the deciding factor, but Galway is blessed with socroers, the McGrath sisters Siobhan and Orlaith, Niamh Kilkenny, four-times All Star Ailish O'Reilly who is a real leader up front, and Niamh Hanniffy. All Stars Shauna Healy and captain Sarah Dervan, and Heather Cooney have been solid in defence, and once again will be need to be at their best against Kilkenny.

Path to the final

Galway enjoyed a strong start in defence of their All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship crown on October 18 when they powered their way to a 5-17 to 3-9 victory over Wexford in their opening group one tie.

Catherine Finnerty gave Galway the perfect start, while Galway added a second goal in the 10th minute when Aoife Donohoe provided Ailish O’Reilly, who rounded her marker and finished to the net for her first major. Niamh Hanniffy bagged the fourth goal before Donohue secured the fifth.

Next up was Offaly on November 1, and it was an unsurprising 3-13 to 0-3 victory at Pearse Stadium before producing a 0-15 to 0-12 victory over Cork. It was a day when Galway needed to showed their pedigree and Dolan, Aoife Donohue and Ailish O’Reilly did just that, putting their side into a lead that Cork could not catch.

"We needed to get to a semi-final," Murray said. "It would have been a long journey down to Cork if we had lost, with only a six-day turnaround. So it was really important, to get straight through to the semi-final and avoid Kilkenny."

That win ensured a semi-final with Tipperary who had come through before prevailing in the quarter-final over Waterford.

It was a tough battle in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Carrie Dolan’s 15th minute goal in the first half proved crucial as they eventually saw off Tipp by 1-11 to 0-8.

It was a game Murray said his team needed in preparation for this weekend's decider. One lesson was Galway's need to pass the ball more into the forwards, but the workrate throughout the team was pivotal in that victory.

Kilkenny, he says, are a quality side.

"They didn’t get half enough credit they deserved last year in the All-Ireland final. They scored 17 points against us. That would have won most of the last five, six or seven All-Irelands," Murray says.

“We know how good Kilkenny are. Everyone praises Galway for that All-Ireland, but there was two points in it at a really crucial stage with five or six minutes to go. We know how good they are and it’s going to take a massive performance to beat them in the final.”

The Galway team that played Tipperary in the semi-final was: Sarah Healy, Shauna Healy, S Dervan, H Cooney, E Helebert, S Gardiner, T Kenny, N Kilkenny, A Donohue, C Dolan, C Cormican, R Hennelly, A O’Reilly, N Hanniffy, O McGrath. Subs: S McGrath for Hennelly (45 ), S Spellman for Dolan (51 ), N Coen for Donohue (60 ).

 

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