IT CAME with a lucky escape, but Easter Sunday ended well for the Kilkenny senior team as they ended their trip to Dublin with a place in the semi-finals of the National Camogie League.
The combination of their one-point victory in Dublin and Tipperary’s one-point defeat to Clare means Kilkenny have qualified for the final four games, which will be played on the weekend of April 28/29.
Kilkenny made the trip to O’Toole Park Crumlin for the high-noon throw-in. The early start did faze them; they appeared to be coasting along to an easy victory as goals from Siobhan Holland and Katie Power gave the Cats a commanding 10-point advantage (2-5 to 0-1) by the 24th minute.
Those goals were Kilkenny’s first three-pointers of the league campaign. They had failed to register a green flag score prior to that.
However, Dublin fought back. An Amy Murphy goal just before half-time left the Metropolitans trailing by 2-5 to 1-4 at the interval.
Kilkenny maintained that four-point advantage throughout the third quarter with Aoife Neary on target from frees, but they suffered a shock to their system when Dublin added a second goal from Louise O’Hara.
With a grandstand finish from the hosts in store, Kilkenny had to pull out all the stops. They added late points from a Neary free and Collette Dormer to strengthen their cause, and had to rely on strong defending from Catherine Doherty, Nicola Butler and substitute Grace Walsh to repel the Dublin challenge.
In a nervous finish Kilkenny held out, their hopes helped as Dublin proved wasteful in front of the posts, shooting 13 wides.
There was disappointment however for the county’s intermediates as their Division 2 hopes ended on the road.
Despite goals from Orla Hanrick and Miriam Walsh, Kilkenny were defeated 2-12 to 2-2 by Meath.
Kilkenny will conclude their league campaign when they have home advantage against Down on Sunday. After that their attentions will turn to the championship in late June.