Cork 4-10 Kilkenny 1-10: A majestic display by champions Cork sees them back in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie final next month.
Wonderful score-taking, particularly in the second-half, saw them ease past Kilkenny - a Black and Amber side that came into the tie as favourites and started so well, racing seven points clear midway through the opening half.
But, in a remarkable turnaround and against the backdrop of having lost a number of key players from last year, Cork regained the initiative and ran out convincing winners.
Three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes from Katrina Mackey, Orla Cotter (her second) and Amy O’Connor sealed the deal.
“We pride ourselves on a couple of things, one is we are mentally very strong,” said jubilant manager Paudie Murray. “And I think we showed that again today. We pride ourselves on our second-half performance and we also showed that again today and the last day (against Tipp in the quarter-final). We are delighted to be in the final.
“We have lost 13 players from last year’s panel. The new players have settled in. We are coming the whole time and I think they are getting better with each game which is great. It took us a while to get organised and once we did, we won midfield and we were always going to win when the goals started to go in.”
Kilkenny got off to a flying start, racing into a 1-6 to 0-2 lead, the goal after just three minutes from Michelle Quilty. Points from Denise Gaule (3), Katie Power (2) and Claire Phelan put them in the ascendancy. However, once Cork gained a foothold around the middle, they hit 1-5 without reply to give them a slender interval advantage of 1-7 to 1-6. Cotter raised the green flag from a free after a mix-up in the Kilkenny goal.
However, Kilkenny responded after the break and moved clear once more with points from Gaule and Miriam Walsh. Wayward shooting from both sides left it 1-9 to 1-8 in the Cats’ favour approaching the end of the third quarter.
But, what a finish from Cork as Katrina Mackey produced an amazing goal after being set up by Briege Corkery. And what a weekend it was for successful footballers Corkery, Rena Buckley and Meabh Cahalane, who 24 hours earlier played a part in the defeat of Galway.
As the floodgates opened Cotter, who had switched into the full-forward line, and Amy O’Connor finished to the net with ruthless efficiency, leaving Kilkenny – who were defeated in the last two All-Ireland finals – bewildered on what was a very disappointing day for Fintan Deegan’s players. They were going so well all season but had no answer to Cork’s incredible scoring burst.
Slow starters Cork may be, and that will be a concern for Murray, but he has plenty of material to work with. Powerful goalkeeper Aoife Murray was well supported by Laura Treacy, Pamela Mackey and Gemma O’Connor. Up front, the speed and fluency of Corkery, Cotter and Katrina Mackey was a joy to watch as they crafted and finished some splendid scores. Cork are heading to Croke Park in search of back-to-back All-Ireland titles in a repeat of this year’s league final which Galway edged by three points.
Scorers for Cork:
O Cotter (2-3, 1-2 frees, 0-1 45m), A O’Connor (1-2), K Mackey (1-1), B Corkery and J White (0-2 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny:
D Gaule (0-5 frees), M Quilty (1-0), K Power (0-2), C Phelan, A Dalton and M Walsh (0-1 each).
A Murray; L O’Sullivan, L Treacy, R Buckley; P Mackey, G O’Connor, M Cahalane; J White, A Thompson; O Cotter, O Cronin, K Mackey; H Looney, B Corkery, A O’Connor.
E O’Sullivan for H Looney (43), H Looney for O Cronin (55).
E Kavanagh; E Keane, S Quirke, C Foley; C Dormer, A Connery, D Tobin; C Phelan, A Gannon; M Quilty, A Farrell, D Gaule; A Dalton, M Walsh, K Power.
S Farrell for A Farrell, A Dunphy for A Gannon (both half-time), J Frisby for C Foley (50 inj), A Neary for M Quilty (57).
Ray Kelly (Kildare).
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