THERE was major disappointment for the Kilkenny intermediates as their All-Ireland championship started with a crushing defeat to Galway.
Sharper in attack, the Tribeswomen put in an impressive second half performance as they blitzed their cautious hosts at Nowlan Park on Saturday.
It had looked so promising for Kilkenny by the midway stage. Playing against a strong first-half breeze, they trailed by just three points (2-4 to 1-4) at the interval.
Galway dominated possession in the opening half and should have been much further ahead by the break, but their tally of 10 wides prevented them from building a greater lead.
Kilkenny were certainly more economical in possession over the opening half hour, taking the chances that fell their way. Lisa Hanrick had the pick of the bunch, bagging a well-taken goal in the 28th minute after soloing through the Galway defence.
Hanrick also pointed from play along with Lisa Phelan, while Eilish Cantwell pointed two frees. The entire half-forward line accounted for Kilkenny’s first half scoring total.
The always-dangerous Ailish O’Reilly scored Galway’s opening goal in the 19th minute when she slotted home a ground strike. O’Reilly also played her part in the second big strike six minutes later, when she found herself clean through on goal. Her shot was brilliantly saved by Laura Walker, but Maria Breheny was on hand to snap up the rebound.
As mentioned, Kilkenny were in a strong position at half-time, but throughout the second half they played in a defensive mode, their forward line quite often operating a longways from goal.
That tactic played into Galway’s hand. By the 51st minute they had built up a solid lead (2-10 to 1-5), with Maria Breheny, Ailish O’Reilly and Rachel Monaghan doing the scoring.
Kilkenny’s misery increased when Galway’s centre-forward Catriona Cormican ghosted through for another goal, before substitute Molly Dunne finished with ease after being set up by Ailish O’Reilly.
It was a miserable afternoon for Kilkenny, who now face a must-win game against Tipperary this weekend if they are to maintain their championship prospects.
Lisa Hanrick was Kilkenny’s best player. Laura Walker, who pulled off two spectacular first saves, along with the hard trying duo of Claire Aylward and Sally Teehan also fared well on an afternoon to forget.
SCORERS: Galway - Catriona Cormican (1-3); Ailish O’Reilly (1-2); Rachel Monaghan (0-5, 0-4 frees), Maria Breheny (1-1); Molly Dunne (1-0); Deirdre Burke, Rebecca Hennelly (0-1 each). Kilkenny - Lisa Hanrick (1-2); Eilish Cantwell (0-2, frees); Lisa Phelan, Rebecca Cleere (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - L. Walker, J. Cullen, E. O’Shea, C. Aylward, S. Quirke, S. Fennelly, S. Teehan, R. Cleere, A. Lyng, L. Hanrick, L. Phelan, E. Cantwell, M. Doheny, A. Butler, C. Foley. Subs: S. Corcoran, A.M. Lennon, A. Bryan, L. Millea.
Galway - R. Callanan, T. Kenny, S. Keane, C. Gill, P. Kenne, S. Noone, L. Farrell, D. Burke, C. McGrath, A. O’Reilly, C. Cormican, E. Kilkenny, E. O’Sullivan, R. Monaghan, M. Breheny. Subs: A. Kenny, A. Spellman, M. Dunne, R. Hennelly.
Referee: Donal Ryan.