AS THE saying goes, if you’re good enough you’re old enough!
It certainly rang true as the Kilkenny senior camogie team kick-started their All-Ireland championship in winning ways against Dublin on Saturday.
Travelling to Crumlin with a side featuring six newcomers, Kilkenny made a whirlwind start. Inspired by 17-year-old Miriam Walsh, they led 1-6 to 0-0 after just 10 minutes.
They maintained that nine-point lead at the interval as they trooped in 1-9 to 0-3 in front. Despite Dublin’s gallant attempts, the Cats were never in any real danger after that.
Walsh was the star on show, scoring 1-4 from play. The Loreto student was a danger throughout and featured in several of Kilkenny’s scores. Encouragingly, the Kilkenny attack was very sharp and elusive. They had the Dublin defence in all sorts of trouble as they helped themselves to 2-10 from play.
Along with Walsh, Katie Power, Aoife Neary and Michelle Quilty lent their support to a Kilkenny attack which had greater firepower than at any stage during the league. The return of Kate McDonald, who made her first championship start in two years, was another plus. She performed superbly at wing-back.
Kilkenny’s opening goal, which came in the 10th minute, was a result of superb team movement. Championship debutante Eimear Mulhall created the chance when she won possession, setting up Katie Power who combined with Aoife Neary to carve Dublin open.
Once Neary laid the sliotar off to Miriam Walsh, the open goal beckoned. The Tullaroan youngster duly obliged, hand-passing the ball into an empty net.
Having led by nine points at the interval, Walsh stretched Kilkenny’s advantage into double figures (1-10 to 0-3) in the 36th minute. Dublin minor Ciara Berkeley added three pointed frees in quick succession but the winners replied with four unanswered points - two each for Neary and Power - as they took a stranglehold on the game with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Dublin refused to buckle. Berkeley and the impressive Amy Murphy pointed from play before bagging a well-taken goal in the 52nd minute. Fiona Hayes created the score with a long ball forward which was seized by Sarah Ryan. Faced with a clear path to goal, she finished the run with an excellent strike that gave Catriona Ryan no chance (1-15 to 1-8).
Impressive midfielder Louise O’Hara pointed in injury-time to conclude the scoring, but not before Kilkenny added a second goal.
Michelle Quilty, making her first inter-county start of 2012 after missing most of the league through injury, showed great perseverance to force the sliotar over the goal-line after she made the initial run to get into a goalscoring position.
Kilkenny have little time to bask in the glow of victory. Tougher tasks lie head, starting with a home tie against Galway on Saturday.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Miriam Walsh (1-4), Michelle Quilty (1-2), Aoife Neary (0-5, 0-4 frees 0-1 45), Katie Power (0-4). Dublin - Ciara Berkeley (0-6, 0-5 frees), Sarah Ryan (1-0), Louise O’Hara (0-2), Amy Murphy (0-1).
Kilkenny - Catriona Ryan (Tullogher), Caoimhe Shiel (Dicksboro), Catherine Doherty (St Anne’s), Orlaith Walsh (St Martin’s), Kate McDonald (Thomastown), Elaine Aylward (Mullinavat), Jacqui Frisby (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Niamh Byrne (Clara), Grace Walsh (Tullaroan), Aoife Neary (James Stephens), Miriam Walsh (Tullaroan), Eimear Mulhall (Lisdowney), Michelle Quilty (Mullinavat), Katie Power (Piltown), Emma Comerford (Young Irelands). Subs: Edel Maher (St Anne’s) for Comerford, Kelly Hamilton (Rower-Inistioge) for Mulhall.
Dublin - Clodagh Bolger, Emma Whyte, Lizzie McSweeney, Elaine O’Meara, Catriona Power, Grainne Quinn, Fiona Hayes, Louise O’Hara, Alison Maguire, Mairi Moynihan, Sarah Ryan, Muireann O’Gorman, Ciara Berkeley, Amy Murphy, Miriam Twomey. Subs: Aine Fanning for M. Twomey, Laura Twomey for O’Meara, Alison Twomey for O’Gorman.
Referee - John Dolan (Clare).