Dalton leads way as Cats power past champions

Kilkenny 4-12 Galway 3-07

Dalton leads way as Cats power past champions

Ann Dalton was magnificent at midfield for the winners, Leann Fennelly and Elaine Aylward were sound in defence, while Shelly Farrell and Denise Gaule hit the crucial scores.

For their part, Galway were carried out on their shields but apart from Orlaith McGrath and substitute Brenda Hanney, their best players were defenders Sarah Dervan and Sinead Cahalan.

They didn’t function sufficiently well enough as an attacking unit to keep the trophy out West.

Niamh McGrath opened the scoring for Galway after five minutes but then Kilkenny took charge with points from Denise Gaule and Elaine Aylward.

Kilkenny were asking a lot of questions of the Galway defence and Mullinavat sharpshooter Michelle Quilty scored a goal after 12 minutes, after an uncharacteristic error from Susan Earner.

The advantage soon stretched to six points but Galway remained composed and points from the McGrath sisters, Niamh and Orlaith, looked to have steadied their ship.

Kilkenny struck another major blow, however, when brilliant midfielder Ann Dalton intercepted a pass and took off on a strong run before rifling a shot beyond Susan Earner with 10 minutes to go in the first half.

Aisling Dunphy added a point to put eight between them but Orlaith McGrath breathed life into Galway with a smart finish for a goal to leave it 2-5 to 1-3 at half-time.

Galway boss Tony Ward had already introduced Aislinn Connolly and Ann Marie Starr in the first half but it was another substitute, Brenda Hanney, who had the biggest impact after coming on at half-time. The former skipper had a goal to her name within five minutes to narrow the gap to two points.

Kilkenny switched Shelly Farrell and Katie Power and the move paid dividends as Farrell responded to Galway’s increased tempo with a goal of her own.

Galway showed their courage with another goal from Hanney, who was proving a real handful for Kilkenny, but the league champions have learned from last year’s experience and displayed huge maturity down the finishing stretch.

The normally reliable Gaule had struggled with her free-taking — as had Niamh McGrath — but the Kilkenny ace began to find the target from play in the final quarter as the Cats squeezed the life out of Galway.

Gaule rounded off a very good final quarter with a goal to put the issue beyond doubt.

Meanwhile, Limerick defeated Carlow (2-8 to 1-6) in the Liberty Insurance junior A camogie final in Moneygall. Elsewhere, Sinead Meagher scored a hat-trick of goals and Grace O’Brien slotted nine points as Tipperary cruised to a 3-13 to 1-7 success in the All-Ireland U16A final against Galway, while Waterford beat Derry in the U16B final at Radley Park by 6-17 to 3-5.

In the U16C decider at Geraldine Park, Laois beat Kildare by 2-8 to 1-4.

Scorers for Kilkenny: D Gaule 1-5 (0-1f); A Dalton 1-3 (0-1f); S Farrell 1-1; M Quilty 1-0; K Power 0-2; E Aylward 0-1.

Scorers for Galway: B Hanney 2-0; N McGrath 0-4 (2fs); O McGrath 1-1; AM Starr, A Connolly 0-1 each.

KILKENNY: E Kavanagh, M Power, K McDonald, J Frisby, C Phelan, L Fennelly, E Aylward, C Dormer, A Dalton, D Gaule, A Dunphy, A Connery, M Quilty, K Power, S Farrell.

Subs: E Keane for Frisby, A Neary for Quilty, G Walsh for Connery.

GALWAY: S Earner, T Manton, S Dervan, H Cooney, S Cahalan, S Healy, L Ryan, M Dunne, N Kilkenny, R Hennelly, N McGrath, E Kilkelly, O McGrath, AM Hayes, A O’Reilly.

Subs: A Connolly for O’Reilly, AM Starr for Kilkelly, B Hanney for Hennelly, E Haverty for Dunne, G Glynn for Healy.

Referee: C Egan (Cork).

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