The Liberty Insurance Camogie Championship got underway with a bang and a sizeable Galway contingent building up for the Leinster SHC semi-final, was on hand to urge their team on as they attempted to repeat the league final defeat of the Leesiders.
That might have been significant in the end as the westerners finally got their radar right to hit the last four points and snatch the honours.
Niamh McGrath had struggled with the wind but still finished with eight points, including three of that defining flurry. Meanwhile, Niamh Kilkenny put Galway in front on the hour with a superlative over-the-shoulder effort.
“It was heart-in-your-mouth stuff near the end and it was great to get out with the win, just to get off to a good start in the championship. Beating Cork twice in the one year is great but I don’t know, we’re probably going to meet them again in the championship and we’ll really have to find another level.
“In the second half again we switched off and didn’t get enough scores from play. That seems to be a problem against them every day. Hopefully the next day we play them, we’ll get a bit more movement in the forwards.
“They play so defensively and we don’t know how to combat that. We’re gonna have to do something the next day when I’m sure we’ll meet them again.
“I thought I was going to get a talking to, hitting all those wides. The wind was tough but I should have realised that after the second or third one!
“Niamh came up as usual, the leader. She always comes up when you need her to.” Cork were on top for most of the second half although Galway’s wasteful shooting was a contributory factor. But the Rebels’ defensive formation was working well while Ashling Thompson and Rena Buckley ruled supreme around the middle. In the end, though, Cork just didn’t do enough.
Molly Dunne scored a ninth minute goal for Galway and by that stage, Aoife Murray had made a brilliant save from Jessie Gill.
Gradually though, Cork settled and found it easier to score from play. Orla Cronin, Thompson, Briege Corkery and Katriona Mackey raised white flags from open play and with Orla Cotter as reliable as ever from placed balls, Paudie Murray’s charges were level at the break, 0-8 to 1-5.
Cork would have been ahead but for few blinding saves by Susan Earner — one to deny Amy O’Connor what would have been a goal-of-the-season contender — but it looked as if they would prevail as O’Connor, Cotter, Cronin and Thompson edged them ahead. They didn’t score for the last 13 minutes though. McGrath slotted two frees Niamh Kilkenny brought the teams level with her spectacular score.
McGrath converted another free in injury time and time ran out on Cork as they chased a match-winning goal.
N McGrath (0-8, 7 frees, 1 45); M Dunne (1-0); J Gill (0-2); N Kilkenny (0-1)
O Cotter (0-4, frees); O Cronin (0-3); A Thompson (0-2); K Mackey, A O’Connor, B Corkery (0-1 each).
S Earner, T Kenny, S Dervan, H Cooney, S Coen, S Healy, L Ryan, N Kilkenny, E Kilkelly, A Donohue, N McGrath, AM Starr, J Gill, M Dunne, A O’Reilly.
S Cahalan for Kenny (40), C McGrath for Kilkelly (55), C Finnerty for Dunne (56), T Manton for Ryan (60+2)
A Murray, P Mackey, L Treacy, L O’Sullivan, J Hosford, G O’Connor, M Cahalane, R Buckley, A Thompson, O Cotter, O Cronin, H Looney, B Corkery, A O’Connor, K Mackey.
R Kelly (Kildare)