A GOOD START proved to be half the battle as Kilkenny made a winning start to their national camogie league Division One campaign on Sunday.
A keen eye for the posts proved vital as the Cats got the better of last year’s All-Ireland intermediate champions Derry on a cold but sunny day in Bray.
Kilkenny got on the score board early with a well taken point from midfielder Aisling Dunphy. They doubled their lead within a matter of minutes, captain Michelle Quilty racing through the Derry defence to put the sliotar over the bar after a long clearance from centre-back Elaine Aylward.
Derry, who were playing in their first ever senior league game, would not go down lightly. By the 10th minute the Ulster side were on level terms thanks to two points from their corner-forward Karen Kielt.
At that stage the game seemed delicately balanced, but a quickfire Colette Dormer point and a well-worked goal from Aoife Neary soon had the Kilkenny girls back in front.
Four more points from Neary, a brace from Ann Dalton and further scores from Michelle Quilty and Colette Dormer, saw the Cats increase their lead coming up to the half hour mark. Derry looked to be in trouble, but gained a little consolation when Sinead Cassidy sniped two points just before the break (1-11 to 0-4).
All guns blazing
Despite the 10-point gap Derry came out with all guns blazing in the second half. They quickly raised a white flag through Karen Kielt and continued to look for paths through the Kilkenny defence but solid displays from a full-back line that comprised Mairead Power, Kate McDonald and Jacqui Frisby and a half-back line of Grace Walsh, Elaine Aylward and Claire Phelan ensured Derry got little reward for their efforts.
Having soaked up a considerable amount of pressure, Kilkenny hit back with a move that all but guarantee their win in the 48th minute. Victory was all but complete when Aoife Neary gathered a crossfield ball, jinked past her marker and blasted an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net.
Derry did pull a goal back thanks to their captain Grainne McGoldrick but it was too little too late. They tried to bag another three-pointer but Kilkenny netminder Emma Kavanagh, who will line out for the Rower-Inistioge their All-Ireland intermediate club final this Saturday, made a fantastic save near the end to dent the Ulster girls’ hopes.
Further scores from Ann Dalton and Aoife Neary put the game beyond reach, as Kilkenny ran out convincing winners. It was a solid opening day performance from the team, who must now turn their attention to Offaly in a fortnight’s time.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Aoife Neary (2-7, 0-4 frees, 0-1 45); Michelle Quilty (0-3); Ann Dalton (0-3, 0-1 free); Colette Dormer (0-2); Aisling Dunphy (0-1). Derry - Karen Kielt (0-5, 0-4 frees); Grainne McGoldrick (1-0); Sinead Cassidy (0-2).
Kilkenny - Emma Kavanagh, Mairead Power, Kate McDonald, Jacqui Frisby, Grace Walsh, Elaine Aylward, Claire Phelan, Colette Dormer, Aisling Dunphy, Ann Dalton, Edwina Keane, Denise Gaule, Aoife Neary, Aine Fahey, Michelle Quilty. Subs: Leanne Fennelly for Fahey, Shelly Farrell for Keane, Maeve Mansfield for Gaule, Caoimhe Shiels for Power, Claire Aylward for Walsh, Aine Kinsella for Quilty, Keeva Fennelly for McDonald.
Derry - Niamh McQuillian, Grainne Ni Chathain, Bronagh McGillion, Aoife Ni Chaiside, Eimear Mullan, Meabh McGoldrick, Maria Mooney, Aileen McCusker, Grainne McGoldrick, Aine Kelly, Siobhan McKeaguie, Denise McGuigan, Sinead Cassidy, Grainne McNicholl, Karen Kielt.