Old camogie rivals return to Croke Park for league final

Galway and Kilkenny will meet once again when they vie for the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League division one crown in Croke Park on Sunday (7.30pm ).

The occasion will be all the more special as this final will be another test event for the safe return of spectators to sport.

These two sides know each other well, and are primed to meet again after Sunday, having been drawn in the same All Ireland championship group this week.

Great rivals, Galway were winners over the Noresiders when the League decider was last played two years ago, while they also enjoyed similar success in that year's All Ireland final. Kilkenny, however, exacted revenge in last year's All Ireland decider.

No shadow boxing, says Galway manager Cathal Murray of Sunday's decider.

"You get to a league final, you want to win it. You get to Croke Park, you want to win any game you play there, and Kilkenny will be the same way.

“It’s a huge test for us and it’s going to be a huge challenge against Kilkenny. They dug it out the last two games and that’s a serious sign of a team.

"The main thing for us is recovery and getting the bodies right. We’ll need to be at our best, but certainly we’ll be going up there to win," he says.

Ruled out is Orlaith McGrath with a shoulder injury, while Murray will be waiting on a "few knocks to clear up" ahead of Sunday's first major trophy of the season.

They will certainly be heartened after last weekend's victory over Cork in which Galway showed immense character to stave off their opponents by 1-19 to 1-17 after extra time.

“Once it goes to extra time, it’s about character and work rate," Murray says. "We showed a huge amount of character.

“We probably felt we were in a really good position at half-time. We were really happy. We felt we had the chances in the second half to win it in normal time, but Cork are a huge team and they showed great character. If they got the penalty, it would have been a hard way back for us." Somewhat scrappy with many missed frees and a lack of accuracy, the game was certainly a useful work-out for Galway ahead of Sunday's final.

Carrie Dolan (0-12, 8fs, 1 45, 1 pen ) and Aoife Donohue (0-4 ) will be expected to play a key role up front, while Siobhán McGrath is another well capable of finding the target, having shot an early goal for Galway against Cork.

However, Galway displayed huge tenacity as Cork, similarly fought like tigers, and a late point from Clíona Healy brought the game to extra time. In the end, however, Galway outscored their opponents by four points to one in the first period of extra time to give them some breathing space. They needed it when Dolan was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 74th minute, and Cork's O’Connor and Healy left just the minimum between the sides. However, when Rebecca Hennelly slotted her second point after coming on at the start of extra time, she ensured Cathal Murray’s squad now have a real chance of early season silverware.

GALWAY: Sarah Healy, S Dervan, Shauna Healy, T Kenny, R Black, E Helebert, S Gardiner, N Kilkenny, N McGrath, C Dolan, S Spellman, A Donohue, S McGrath, A O’Reilly, O McGrath. Subs: C Finnerty for O McGrath inj (12 ), AM Starr for S McGrath (47 ), D Higgins for O’Reilly (55 ), R Hennelly for N McGrath (ft ), S McGrath for Gardiner (ft ), N McGrath for Spellman (68 ), O’Reilly for S McGrath (80+2 )

CORK: A Lee, M Cahalane, L Coppinger, E Murphy, H Looney, L Treacy, L Hayes, K Mackey, A Thompson, C Sigerson, O Cronin, C O’Sullivan, F Keating, A O’Connor, L Collins Subs: C Healy for Collins (47 ), I O’Regan for O’Sullivan (51 ), S McCarthy for Looney (52 ), I Sheehan for Mackey inj (ht et )

REFEREE: Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny )


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