By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Kilkenny and Galway maintained their perfect records in Group 1 of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship, with wins over Waterford and Limerick.
The Noresiders had to work hard to beat Waterford by 1-13 to 0-10 at Walsh Park, despite the home team playing most of the second half with 14 players after the dismissal of goalkeeper Briona Langton.
The Déise girls got off to a confidence-boosting start with points from Annie Fitzgerald and Beth Carton but 2016 All-Ireland-winning captain Michelle Quilty hit a goal in response and Kilkenny were never in arrears again.
Carton equalised but points from Denise Gaule, Miriam Walsh, Claire Phelan, Katie Power and Quilty moved Kilkenny clear by 1-8 to 0-5 at half time.
Anna Farrell stretched the advantage early in the second half before Langton was sent off but Waterford more than held their own, with Carton and Deirdre Fahey pointing.
Grace Walsh, Power and Shelly Farrell responded though and Ann Downey’s charges maintained the upper hand to the end for a good win, although Waterford will get plenty from the game as they look for wins over Limerick and Clare to secure a Quarter-Final spot.
Galway laid the groundwork for their 3-14 to 1-11 win over Limerick in Bruff in the opening period. Niamh Kilkenny, who missed the victory over Waterford with a finger injury had a point after 15 seconds and also finished expertly for a goal as the westerners moved 1-3 to 0-0 ahead.
Laura O’Neill made a stunning save from Ailish O’Reilly but she could do nothing about Niamh Hannify’s strike, after good work from Aoife O’Donohue to make it 2-7 to 0-5 at half-time.
Galway stretched their lead after the break with leading scorer Carrie Dolan among the points and they kept the scoreboard ticking over. Niamh Mulcahy, who scored 10 points to join Tipperary’s Cáit Devane as championship leading scorer on 0-24, maintained Limerick’s interest but Hanniffy goaled late on, though there was still time for Deborah Egan to breach the Galway defences for a consolation goal.