WOW! What a pulsating, epic and whirlwind contest! This All-Ireland senior camogie semi-final will live long in the memory as the Cats roared.
Victory earned Kilkenny a place in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park on Sunday, September 15 against Galway. They out-scored Cork by 1-3 to 0-3 during the closing 10 minutes to secure a famous victory.
Opening backed by the breeze, Kilkenny trailed to early goals from Katriona Mackey and Julia White. They responded with Katie Power in mesmerising form as she accounted for 1-3 of the first half total to lead by 1-7 to 2-3 at the interval.
Kilkenny began strongly in the new half with points from Aisling Dunphy and Denise Gaule, but Cork responded with Julia White and Orla Cotter very prominent as they led 2-8 to 1-9 entering the closing 10 minutes.
However, Kilkenny kept plugging away. They got their just rewards when a long range free by Ann Dalton was brilliantly flicked overhead off the stick of Denise Gaule, 2-9 to 2-8.
Orla Cotter replied immediately to level before Katie Power added a superb point to restore Kilkenny’s lead, 2-10 to 2-9. Team captain and substitute Michelle Quilty added an excellent point to double the lead inside the closing five minutes, but Cork were not finished.
Angela Walsh blazed a golden chance inches over the crossbar to narrow the gap before another substitute, Kelly Hamilton fired over a glorious point to restore Kilkenny’s lead, 2-12 to 2-10.
Cork kept battling to the end. Aisling Thompson added a point in the second minute of injury-time, and they chased a late equaliser with all their might.
Determined Kilkenny held out for a deserved victory. From the championship disaster of 2012 when they lost to Dublin in the quarter-final play-offstage, the Cats are now All-Ireland finalists.
The management team deserve huge praise, along with the players for the magnificence of the combined effort. Saturday’s effort in Thurles wasn’t Kilkenny’s most effective display, and a number of players can improve, but the will to battle, to go through the pain barrier for the cause was simply magnificent.
Edwina Keane at centre-back was wonderful during the second-half when she commanded. Keane showed the heart of a lion as she constantly stopped Cork’s attacks. She was inspiring.
Mairead Power, after an uncertain opening, thundered into the game. She turned in a hugely determined display to curb the threat of the dangerous Katriona Mackey. Kate McDonald showed best during the second-half, while the experienced Elaine Aylward was mighty during the closing quarter.
The forwards, despite not always enjoying the best of luck, never stopped working. Aisling Dunphy was magnificent, the best player over the hour. Her work-rate was superb. The St Brigid’s, Ballycallan player won a number of frees that proved vital in the end.
Katie Power scored 1-4 from play, 1-3 in the first-half when Kilkenny were under pressure. Also significant was the contribution of the subs.
Michelle Quilty and Kelly Hamilton added a point each during that closing stages, while the introduction of Collette Dormer in the closing12 minutes brought a steadying presence around midfield.
Cork were great too, with Aoife Murray, Pamela Mackey and Maria Walsh very good along with Aisling Thompson Orla Cotter, Julia White, Angela Walsh and Katriona Mackey were prominent too.
Player of the Match: Aisling Dunphy (Kilkenny).
Aisling Dunphy was the heartbeat of the team. She worked relentlessly throughout, She provided stability in tracking back to help midfield during the second-half.
Scorers: Kilkenny – Katie Power (1-4); Denise Gaule (1-1); Aoife Neary (0-3, one free, one penalty); Grace Walsh, Aisling Dunphy, Michelle Quilty and Kelly Hamilton (0-1 each). Cork – Julia White (1-2); Pamela Mackey (1-1); Orla Cotter (0-3); Angela Walsh (0-2); Briege Corkery, Jenny O’Leary, Aisling Thompson (0-1 each).
Kilkenny – Emma Kavanagh (Rower-Inistioge), Mairead Power(Carrickshock), Kate McDonald(Thomastown), Jacqui Frisby(Ballyhale Shamrocks), Leann Fennelly(Mullinavat), Edwina Keane(St. Martins, Muckalee), Elaine Aylward(Mullinavat), Claire Phelan(Lisdowney), Ann Dalton(St. Lachtains, Freshford), Katie Power(Piltown), Aisling Dunphy(St. Brigids, Ballycallan), Grace Walsh(Tullaroan), Shelley Farrell(Thomastown), Denise Gaule(Windgap), Aoife Neary(James Stephens) Subs - Michelle Quilty(Mullinavat) (captain) for Walsh half-time, Collette Dormer(Paulstown) for Phelan, 48 minutes, Kelly Hamilton(Rower-Inistioge) for Gaule 52 minutes,
Cork – A. Murray, P. Mackey, M. Walsh, J. O’Callaghan, D. Cronin, R. Buckley, A. Geary (capt), O. Cotter, B. Corkery, A. Thompson, J. O’Leary, E. O’Sullivan, A. Walsh, J. White, K. Mackey. Subs - S. Burns for O’Sullivan; G. O’Connor for Cotter; F. Neville for Corkery
Referee: Owen Elliott (Antrim).