Kilkenny captain Shelly Farrell was barely able to speak after her side ground out a three-point victory over Galway in a titanic Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie semi-final at Semple Stadium on Saturday night.
“It was a serious battle” said the Thomastown attacker. “Unreal. We knew from the start that it would be. Ourselves and Galway have had some battles over the last few years. It was unbelievable out there, you didn’t get a minute. Both teams gave everything.”
Space was at a premium as both teams set up to give the other’s dangerous forward division as little oxygen as possible. That made for plenty of scrappy passages of play and some tremendous physicality.
“Everyone had their tactics done brilliantly. Everyone was marked wherever they went. We know each other inside out.”
Denise Gaule hit three frees as Kilkenny led 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time but Galway thundered into the fray in the second half, with Niamh Kilkenny and Ailish O’Reilly particularly prominent along with freetaker Carrie Dolan. Those scores moved Galway in front, though Julianne Malone quickly equalised.
The game turned on Katie Power’s 48th minute goal, the result of a slick passing move that illustrated the potential of the Noreside offensive unit. They added three points as Galway were forced to press forward, Gaule finding the target with two frees and Farrell’s younger sister Meighan landing a wonderful score. The eldest Farrell sibling Anna was named player of the match.
Though Rebecca Hennelly drilled a 65th-minute penalty to the net, time ran out on Cathal Murray’s team.
“I don’t know was it nerves or what at the start, we just weren’t in it in the first 10 or 15 minutes but we showed the heart to come back” said Farrell.
“It was great to see that spirit. It’s brilliant to be back in the final again and we’re looking forward to it.”
D Gaule 0-6(fs); K Power 1-1; J Malone 0-1; M Quilty, M Farrell 0-1 each.
C Dolan 0-5(fs); R Hennelly 1-0 (pen); N Kilkenny, A O’Reilly 0-1 each
E Kavanagh, C Dormer, C Foley, E Keane, C Phelan, A Dalton, D Tobin, D Gaule, M Farrell, S Farrell, K Power, J Malone, E Keane, A Farrell, M Quilty.
M Walsh for Quilty (50).
Sarah Healy, Shauna Healy, S Dervan, T Kenny, R Black, H Cooney, L Ryan, A M Starr, N Kilkenny, A Donohue, C Cormican, N McGrath, C Dolan, A O’Reilly, N Coen.
S McGrath for Coen (42), R Hennelly for Starr (49), N Hanniffy for Dolan (51), O McGrath for Black (60), C Walsh for Shauna Healy (60).
R Kelly (Kildare).