Tipperary 2-11, Cork 1-11
GLORY for Tipperary in yesterday’s wonderful All-Ireland senior camogie final in Croke Park, and a measure of revenge for their three-goal drubbing last year.
That's four championships now in the last five years, and a recent but long-running argument about the best team in camogie over that period settled.
The protagonists took to Croke Park with two forward lines that bristled with menace - a threat in every corner, danger from every angle.
But this was a day when the defenders came to the fore. Critically however, it was the Tipp defence that won out.
Every ball was hard-contested on both sides of the field, every score hard-earned, referee Aine Derham prudently allowing both sets of defenders a bit of latitude in imposing themselves. That Eimear McDonnell would then manage to score 1-4 from play in such an environment, that Deirdre Hughes would poach 1-1, speaks volumes; that both were in blue-and-gold, and both in the inside line of attack for Tipperary, was ultimately the difference, the principal reason the O'Duffy Cup rests in Cashel tonight.
Cork had built a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 23 minutes.
Three of the Cork points had come from the half-forward line, one each from O'Donoghue, Dillon and O'Leary, the fourth from Orla O'Sullivan. Tipp's replied by way of a super shot from the wing by Hayden, Noelle Kennedy with the second.
That Kennedy point flushed Cork captain Dunlea outfield, and Tipp began to prosper.
First to benefit was McDonnell in the 26th minute. In such a close contest, goals were always going to be crucial. Taking a ramble out wide, on the opposite wing, the Tipp left-corner-forward won possession, beat Joanne O'Callaghan, headed for goal. With Dunlea gone from the sweeper position, the path was clear, and McDonnell drew Cork 'keeper Ger Casey, before booting the ball low to the net.
Nevertheless, by the break Cork had regained the initiative, and thanks to two long-range frees from centre-back Mary O'Connor, led at the break 0-7 to 1-3.
The third quarter was when Tipp really sealed this famous win. Within 40 seconds of the restart, Deirdre Hughes broke free, and sent a searing shot across the faultless Ger Casey into the top corner, putting Tipp back in the driving seat. They would never again release that control.
McDonnell followed that goal with the first of her four second half points and though the hard-working Emer Dillon and Fiona O'Driscoll (superbly marshalled by Suzanne Kelly) briefly raised Cork hopes with a couple of points in reply, slowly but surely the squeeze came on. All over the field Tipp upped their game, and Cork found themselves suffocated.
Captain Una O'Dwyer was totally dominant on the edge of the Tipp square, Kelly and Claire Madden likewise in the corners; outside them Sinead Nealon typified the Tipperary hunger and spirit, while Ciara Gaynor and Therese Brophy bent a little, but never broke. Angie McDermott and Philly Fogarty, while not shining, ensured that highly-rated Cork didn't dominate the middle, and they were assisted in the sector by Joanne Ryan, who had a terrific second half.
The real damage however, was being done inside. All that work outfield would have amounted to nothing but for the brilliance of McDonnell and Hughes. Three times in a golden five-minute spell, from the 44th to 49th minutes, player-of-the-game McDonnell pointed, two of those assists from Hughes, to put Tipperary 2-9 to 0-9 ahead.
For the last ten minutes, Cork introduced the flying Breege Corkery, re-introduced Gemma O'Connor, and they did make a difference. Corkery enlivened proceedings around the middle, though she would be better advised using her pace just to make the opening, then centre the ball rather than running into trouble, while O'Connor was on hand to kick home that consolation goal.
Too little however, all too late, nearly four minutes into injury-time, and though Cork did have one last chance to set up an equalising goal, it would have been totally undeserved, and appropriately, it was that suffocating defence to the rescue once more.
Scorers Tipperary: E. McDonnell 1-4; D. Hughes 1-1; E. Hayden 0-2; N. Kennedy 0-2 (0-1 free); J. Ryan, C. Grogan (free), 0-1 each.
Cork: G. O'Connor 1-0; F. O'Driscoll 0-3 (0-2 frees); J. O'Leary 0-2; E. Dillon 0-2; M. O'Connor 0-2 (frees); U. O'Donoghue, O. O'Sullivan, 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: J. Delaney; S. Kelly, U. O'Dwyer (c), C. Madden; S. Nealon, C. Gaynor, T. Brophy; A. McDermott, P. Fogarty; J. Ryan, E. Hayden, C. Grogan; N. Kennedy, D. Hughes, E. McDonnell.
Subs: T. O'Halloran (Kennedy 56).
CORK: G. Casey; J. O'Callaghan, E. Duggan, S. Dunlea (c); P. O'Connor, M. O'Connor, G. O'Connor; R. Moloney, V. Harris; U. O'Donoghue, E. Dillon, J. O'Leary; O. O'Sullivan, C. Harrington, F. O'Driscoll. Subs: C. Foley (P. O'Connor 30); S. Hayes (G. O'Connor inj. 36); B. Corkery (Harris 47); C. Desmond (Harrington 47); G. O'Connor (O'Sullivan 54).
Referee: A. Derham (Dublin) excellent job.