There was never much between holders Galway and Clare in their much-anticipated clash. Tony Ward’s crew took the lead early thanks to Niamh McGrath but it was nip and tuck and a brace of pointed frees by Claire McMahon soon pushed the League runners-up ahead.
That lead didn’t last long though and Emma Kilkelly pounced for a 15th minute goal to edge Galway ahead again. McGrath and McMahon exchanged a couple of scores and it was 1-6 to 0-6 at half-time.
A rainstorm forced referee Mike O’Kelly to halt proceedings for a period in the second-half with a goal still between them. When they resumed, it was Clare who increased the tempo and points from a Chloe Morey penalty and McMahon left just the one between them, before McMahon brought the game to extra-time.
Aislinn Connolly fired a critical goal for Galway two minutes into the third period and though Clare did manage to reduce the deficit to a point approaching the 80th minute, a pointed free by McGrath saw the westerners through 2-10 to 0-14.
Cork advanced as expected from the other quarter-final but there was no surprise either that Offaly made them work all the way to the final before prevailing 2-21 to 1-15 after a fantastic game.
The crucial score was an early goal from Denise Cronin when her miss-hit shot somehow beat everyone while player of the match, Orla Cotter slotted some vital points. Offaly were giving as good as they got though and Siobhán Flannery and Elaine Dermody had eight points between them to keep their side in contention, trailing by just 1-13 to 0-9.
Flannery was magnificent for Aidan Franks’ team and got a goal on her way to a fine individual tally of 1-7, but Cork had too much all-round firepower to go with the 11 points provided by the outstanding Cotter. Amy O’Connor scored an injury time goal to put a more flattering gloss on the final scoreline.
— All-Ireland semi-finals (August 23): Galway v Kilkenny; Cork v Wexford.