It was a disappointing day for Kilkenny camogie with the senior and intermediate teams losing their respective All-Ireland finals.
A late rally by Kilkenny in the senior game made for an exciting finish but that was all in vain when Cork went on to score a second goal. Kilkenny played well in the opening half when aided by the breeze. Cork opted to play with seven defenders and at times it could have been eight.
An early Katie Power point gave Kilkenny the best possible start and for much of the half the play focused on the Cork goal. Kilkenny’s problem was that too many long deliveries ended up being cleared. The Noresiders were dominating and their scoring rate should have been greater.
An alert Michelle Quilty gave Kilkenny a great boost midway through the half when she goaled following a save by Cork goalie Aoife Murray. The Mullinavat player also had another effort on goal which was saved.
Although Kilkenny followed Quilty’s goal with a couple of points from Denise Gaule, Cork was making good use of limited possession at the other end. A five point margin was not a big lead heading into the second half. Immediately on the restart Cork reverted to a standard formation.
More importantly, they played to a much higher tempo. They slowly eroded the Kilkenny lead and when Jenny O’Leary scored their first goal the pressure was on.
The Noresiders struggled to respond with their defence under constant pressure. In contrast, every Cork defender started to dominate her immediate opponent. The result was that Kilkenny got few opportunities for scores.
With two minutes remaining three points separated the teams. Cork was on top. Kilkenny battled bravely for a goal that would draw the game. They almost got one but were penalised and a free out resulted.
Kilkenny could legitimately argue that it should have been a free in as Aoife Neary was fouled as she attempted to palm the ball to the net. Losing the senior final two years in-a-row is a big disappointment but the talent is definitely there to win the O’Duffy Cup.
Kilkenny needs to learn from both defeats. The side is generally small in stature so there is little point playing high balls into the attack. It worked only occasionally on Sunday.
It was noticeable in the second half that Cork adopted a running game to great effect. Their ability to quickly switch play from one side of the field to the other made it testing for the opposition. Miriam Walsh made a big impression when introduced and I was surprised she was not brought on earlier.
Kilkenny also looked far more threatening when Katie Power and Denise Gaule switched positions in the second half. In hindsight that move might have been made earlier.
Experience is a huge asset in an All-Ireland final. When questions were asked of Cork in the second half it was principally the players with many Celtic Crosses who came up trumps. Next year may seem a long way away for the Kilkenny players but the 2015 League and championship will arrive quickly. The future should be viewed positively by all the players.
Kilkenny also came out second best in the second game against Limerick in the Iitermediate All-Ireland. This was Limerick’s first team and they were looking to avenge a narrow two-point loss to Galway last year.
There was little between the sides in the opening half with Limerick holding a narrow 1-5 to 0-6 interval lead. The closeness of the play continued but all changed when the Shannonsiders took control.
The star was centre-forward Niamh Mulcahy. The Ahane player scored some wonderful points from play and frees. Mulcahy, whose grand-uncle was the legendary Mick Mackey, was the Player of the Match award, an honour she also secured the last time Limerick won this final in 2007.