THE Kilkenny senior camogie team moved a step closer to securing an automatic semi-final spot in the All-Ireland championship when they brushed aside the challenge of Derry.
Played in Mediterranean-like conditions, Kilkenny were always in control of their clash with the Ulster girls in Ashbourne. They led 3-6 to 1-4 at the interval, before adding another hat-trick of goals in the second half.
Denise Gaule was razor sharp, scoring a hat-trick of goals while taking her individual tally to 3-2.
Shelly Farrell added a brace of goals she accounted for 2-1. Emma Comerford, who was introduced as a substitute, made her mark when she scored her first ever senior inter-county championship goal.
Michelle Quilty scored 0-5 while Grace Walsh (0-2), Katie Power and Aisling Dunphy completed the scoring.
Kilkenny now prepare for their final group game against All-Ireland champions Wexford this weekend, knowing that victory will guarantee a semi-final spot on Saturday, August 17.
The Cats will go into this weekend’s encounter full of confidence following their Leinster final victory on the June Bank Holiday weekend. They have carried that momentum into the championship, scoring three consecutive victories.
Wexford need a win to maintain their championship prospects, having suffered a setback in the 0-10 to 0-8 loss to Galway last weekend.
In a twist for the sport Kilkenny will enter this match as favourites thanks to their recent form and Wexford’s inconsistency.
How they deal with the favourites tag will determine whether Kilkenny can automatically qualify the direct route into the semi-final.
Meanwhile, the intermediate team’s championship prospects are left hanging by a thread following a 0-15 to 1-9 loss to Waterford in Carrick-on-Suir.
That result means their championship prospects are out of their hands with matches against Antrim and Cork to come.
Elsewhere the under-16s brought their All-Ireland campaign on a winning note as they overcame Clare by 0-15 to 1-7 in Feakle, Co Clare.
Their championship prospects fell by the wayside after defeats to Tipperary and Galway, who had already qualified for the semi-finals.