Tipperary 2-11 Cork 0-9
By Jim O’Sullivan
THERE was a certain predictability about Tipperary’s victory in yesterday’s disappointing Foras na Gaeilge All-Ireland senior camogie final in Croke Park.
After what was to prove a vital goal from Deirdre Hughes in the 19th minute, the champions always seemed to be on course for a fifth title in six years as star player Una O’Dwyer maintained her absolute control at the heart of their defence.
And, as brave and committed as Cork were, they were heading for certain defeat after the second goal from team captain Joanne Ryan at the three-quarters stage.
In essence, John Considine’s team could have no excuses for their failure on a day of special celebrations by the Camogie Association marking their centenary.
The contest was defined by Hughes’ opportunist goal and the game never changed direction after it.
The game had been vigorously contested in the opening quarter, during which scores were level three times.
Tipperary were denied a goal when Emer McDonnell’s ninth minute penalty was stopped by Cork ’keeper Aoife Murray and they were grateful for Claire Grogan’s accuracy from frees.
It was noteworthy that in close-in play Cork captain Stephanie Dunlea was coping well with the challenge from Hughes, but the Toomevara girl availed of a mix-up in the Cork defence to score into an empty net 11 minutes before the break.
Quickly followed by two pointed frees from Grogan, it gave Tipp an important psychological boost and, more significantly, valuable breathing space on the scoreboard.
In contrast, Cork were regularly frustrated in their bid to get the ball in the net, despite the best efforts of Emer Dillon at centre-forward and Emer Watson inside.
Dillon faced another mighty challenge from the vastly experienced Ciara Gaynor, who was very influential all through - and probably the strongest challenger for the player-of-the-match award behind Una O’Dwyer. Yet, she still made some good breaks at different stages.
Cork were to benefit strongly from the determined play of Gemma O’Connor at midfield (before Vivienne Harris found her best form later) and both Rena Buckley and Paula O’Connor were prominent at left-half for a while.
But, for all the determined work of the forwards - and the free-taking ability of Jennifer O’Leary in particular - it was a huge struggle to get on top. Half-time came with Tipp 1-6 to 0-4 in front and nothing had changed.
Nor was the course of the game to be altered appreciably over the course of the second half, even though Cork made a promising start with two quick points from O’Leary on the resumption.
When Joanne Ryan’s persistent efforts were rewarded with a goal in the 43rd minute, Tipperary gained even more in confidence.
Effectively, it ensured their victory because while Cork fought bravely all the way to the finish, it was an uphill battle way because of their inability to penetrate in around the square.
They needed at least one goal to resurrect their challenge, but despite making several changes at full-forward - some strong runs by Emer Dillon and the efforts of Una O’Donoghue - they never looked like succeeding. And when Rachel Moloney failed to find the net from a 21 yards free, their fate was sealed.
Tipp proved themselves worthy champions. Ciara Gaynor was outstanding, while Suzanne Kelly at right corner-back was another to shine. In truth, there wasn’t a weak link in the team.
Referee Una Kearney was a bit too fussy at times and gave a couple of poor decisions, but overall handled the game well.
Scorers: Tipperary - C. Grogan 0-9 (0-7 frees); D. Hughes and J. Ryan 1-0 each; E. McDonnell 0-2. Cork: J. O’Leary 0-5 (0-3 frees, 0-1 45); G. O’Connor 0-2 (0-1 free); E. Dillon and U. O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: J. Delaney; S. Kelly, U. O’Dwyer, J. Kirwan; S. Nealon, C. Gaynor, T. Brophy; A. McDermott, P. Fogarty; N. Kennedy, J. Ryan (capt.), C. Grogan; E. McDonnell, D. Hughes, J. Horan.
Subs: P. Bulfin for Fogarty (55th minute); E. Hayden for Hughes and G. Kinane for Horan (61st).
CORK: A. Murray; J. O’Callaghan, S. Dunlea (capt.), R. Holland; P. O’Connor, M. O’Connor, R. Buckley; V. Harris, G. O’Connor; R. Moloney, E. Dillon, J. O’Leary; U. O’Donoghue, E. Watson, C. Desmond.
Subs: E. Burke for Holland (36th minute); A. Geary for Desmond (41st).
Referee: U. Kearney (Armagh).