The in-form Kilkenny senior camogie team, fresh from their comprehensive National League win, eased their way into the Leinster final by defeating Offaly on Sunday, writes T.J. Mills.
Aoife Neary opened the scoring for the victors with a point. Elaine Dermody equalised for Offaly from a free. Denise Gaule edged Kilkenny ahead again in the 10th minute with an excellent taken point from 45 metres.
Marie Dargan got Kilkenny’s first goal in the 11th minute. She gained possession on the 21 metre line and cut through the Faithful County defence to tap home from close range. Offaly shot two points per Jean Brady and Siobhan Flannery to make it a 1-2 to 0-3 game after 13 minutes.
The winners then scored 1-4 without reply. Michelle Quilty goaled in the 14th minute after poor defending. Aoife Neary pointed within seconds. Ann Dalton extended Kilkenny’s advantage with a point.
Aisling Dunphy punished poor Offaly defending when she pointed in the 22nd minute. Gaule pushed Kilkenny’s lead out to nine points when converting a free after Aoife Neary was fouled.
Offaly stopped the rot. They hit back for three points before half time, the first from Tina Hannon. Flannery then popped over a free. Arlene Watkins continued the comeback with a point just before half time to make it 2-6 to 0-6 in favour of the visitors.
Michelle Quilty opened the second half scoring with a point. Marie Dargan pushed Kilkenny eight clear with a well taken point. Offaly scored three, the first from Aoife Kelly; then Flannery and then Watkins. Marie Dargan made it 2-6 to 0-9 when she scored a point in the 43rd minute.
Aine Connery extended the divide before Marie Dargan got Kilkenny’s third goal. She blasted home from 21 metres. Aisling Dunphy extended Kilkenny’s lead further with a point in the 48th minute. When Leann Fennelly goaled from close range in the 49th minute, there was absolutely no hope for the home side.
Siobhan Flannery scored 1-1 for the losers in the space of a minute, but it was a damage limiting exercise for the home team by this stage.
Kilkenny scored 3-3 without reply. Aisling Dunphy pointed in the 53rd minute; Aoife Neary goaled in the 54th minute; Aisling Dunphy goaled from 50 metres in the 55th minute; Leann Fennelly goaled in the 57th minute; Aoife Neary pointed in the 59th minute and Denise Gaule pointed a free in the 61st minute to secure a final berth against Wexford on June 8 in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise (4pm).
Scorers: Kilkenny – Marie Dargan (2-2); Leann Fennelly (2-0); Aoife Neary (1-3); Aisling Dunphy (1-3); Michelle Quilty (1-1); Denise Gaule (0-3, two frees); Ann Dalton, Aine Connery (0-1 each). Offaly - Siobhan Flannery (1-4, 1-2 frees); Arlene Watkins (0-2); Elaine Dermody, Jean Brady, Tina Hannon, Aoife Kelly (0-1).
Kilkenny - Emma Kavanagh, Mairead Power, Kate McDonald, Jacqui Frisby, Colette Dormer, Edwina Keane, Claire Phelan, Aisling Dunphy, Ann Dalton, Denise Gaule, Marie Dargan, Aine Connery, Michelle Quilty, Leann Fennelly (capt), Aoife Neary.
Subs - Ann-Marie Lennon, Elaine Aylward, Stacey Quirke, Miriam Walsh, Claire Aylward, Aine Kinsella, Aine Fahey, Lydia Fitzpatrick, Megan Farrell, Sarah Crowley, Shelly Farrell, Grace Walsh,
Offaly - Eleanor Clendennen; Fiona Stephens, Linda Sullivan, Marian Crean, Sheila Sullivan; Michaela Morkan, Debbie Flynn, Aoife Kelly, Jean Brady, Elaine Dermody (capt), Siobhan Flannery, Natalie McCabe, Mairead Jennings, Arlene Watkins, Tina Hannon.
Subs – Shauna Carroll, Kate Aherne, Mary Wyer, Ann Marie Guinan, Christine Cleary, Lauren Keenaghan, Kelly Sammon, Helen Dolan.
Referee - Michael Ward.