With the elite contestants in the senior camogie ranks now clearly defined, Galway will look to reach their third decider in a row as the same four counties prepare for Sunday’s All -Ireland semi-finals for the fourth successive year.
Galway will take on Tipperary for the second year in a row, Cathal Murray’s side emerging 1-11 to 0-8 victors back in November when the sides clashed in Páirc Ui Chaoimh.
Croke Park will be the venue on this occasion for a 2pm throw-in as Tipperary look to bridge a 15-year gap since they last reached the final.
Galway have had four weeks to prepare, since their dramatic away win over Kilkenny on July 31 propelled them to the top of their group, with the resulting draw giving them a bye into the semi-finals.
They showed plenty of character in that win over the All-Ireland champions, having played three-quarters of the game with only 14 players after the dismissal of Catherine Finnerty.
Siobhan McGrath’s crucial goal paved the way for a gritty one-point win after the Tribeswomen had previously defeated Clare and Westmeath.
Galway’s title credentials are in little doubt, with Ailish O’Reilly an assured free-taker, while Sarah Dervan, Shauna Healy and Laura Glynn are key cogs of the defensive unit. Niamh Kilkenny and Aoife Donohue have been in flying form further forward, while Murray has also plenty of options from which to choose off the bench if required.
The question for Tipperary is whether they can now take that step out of the shadow of Cork, Kilkenny, and Galway and pull off a semi-final victory. They needed late goals to see off Wexford in their final group game by 4-11 to 1-11 to qualify for the knockout stages, having previously recorded comfortable wins over Offaly and Limerick. Last weekend saw Bill Mullaney’s side get the better of Waterford on a 1-18 to 1-11 scoreline, having led by one despite playing against the wind in the first half.
Tipp’s spread of scorers was impressive as they pulled clear in the third quarter, with Emer McGrath and Clodagh McIntyre both hitting multiple points. With Cáit Devane firing over seven frees, the Premier County were never in danger as they cruised into the last four.
However, there will a considerable step up in the challenge facing them on Sunday as they try to halt Galway’s quest for just a fourth ever O’Duffy Cup win.