It took 20 minutes of extra time to separate Kilkenny and Galway in the Tesco All-Ireland Minor camogie semi-final on Saturday afternoon in Abbottstown.
When these sides met at under-16 level two years ago the Westerners enjoyed a healthy double-digit success over the Noresiders. While both teams showed changes from their 2019 encounter, during the opening quarter it did look as if Galway were shaping up for a repeat, such was their dominance.
After nine minutes Galway led 1-3 to no score. The superb Katie Gilchrist at full-forward had the ball in the Kilkenny net after a minute and with Sabina Rabbitte dominant at centre half forward, the task facing the young Kilkenny kittens looked daunting.
Emma Manogue got Kilkenny off the mark with a point on nine minutes but Galway continued to press on, flying wing forward Niamh McInerney getting the first of her six points after a fine run.
From an early stage the scoring threat of Thomastown’s Sarah Barcoe appeared to be Kilkenny’s best chance of scores and she brought the margin back to four points with a brace of white flags. Another Galway point from Laura Kelly saw Galway lead 1-5 to 0-3 at the first water-break.
Kilkenny were far more competitive during the second quarter, scoring three points through Amy Clifford and another from Asha McHardy, but likes scores from the mercurial Katie Gilchrist and Niamh McInerney saw Galway lead at the interval by 1-9 to 0-7.
The excitement and tempo grew considerably in the second half as Kilkenny upped their work rate considerably. A Kilkenny goal from sub Claire Doheny after four minutes left three points between the teams, the winners beginning to play with greater confidence.
Galway were heavily dependent on Katie Gilchrist and Niamh McInerney for their scores and as the game ebbed to a third quarter conclusion, they still held a healthy six-point lead. Right on the whistle for that water-break Sarah Barcoe came to Kilkenny’s rescue with a superb goal, before a brace of points from Amy Clifford left the minimum between the sides two minutes into the fourth quarter.
A brace of points from the superb Asha McHardy, who was now playing at midfield, left a point between the sides, but when Katie Gilchrist and Sabina Rabbitte pointed for Galway their place in the All-Ireland final seemed assured.
But the battling Kilkenny players refused to yield. When the lively Sarah Barcoe gained possession and rounded her marker there was no stopping her blistering shot. The game was now level and extra-time would be needed to separate two great teams.
An Amy Clifford free two minutes into extra time saw Kilkenny lead for the first time, but it didn’t last for long as Katie Gilchrist and Niamh McInerney continued to tap over the points for Galway.
The Westerners led 1-23 to 3-16 at half time in extra time, but Kilkenny were the dominant side in the second period, scoring 0-5 to Galway’s 0-2.
Penalties loomed until substitute Sarah O’Donnell and the outstanding Sarah Barcoe slotted over two late points for Kilkenny.
Nothing epitomised the Kilkenny effort better than the last score when sub Ellen Gunner and Sarah Barcoe dispossessed two Galway defenders, the young Thomastown player pointing to send Kilkenny into the All-Ireland final this weekend against Cork in Limerick.
Kilkenny had many stars in this memorable victory, including Laoise Nolan, Asha McHardy, Amy Clifford and Sarah Barcoe.
Kilkenny - Ellie O’Neill; Laoise Nolan; Niamh Phelan; Rachel Brennan; Áine Kirwan; Mairead Corcoran; Sontae Jackson; Enna Manogue (0-2); Anna Doheny; Emma Mulhall; Asha McHardy (0-4); Katie Byrne; Sarah Barcoe (2-5); Emma Shortall (0-1); Amy Clifford (0-8, 0-5 frees).
Subs: Sarah O’Donnell (0-1); Claire Doheny (1-0); Rachel Whelan; Grainne Glynn; Ellen Gunner.
Galway - Laura Feeney; Tara Maher, Sarah Lyons, Anna Larkin; Caoimhe Starr, Ciara Hickey, Katie-Ann Porter; Laura Kelly (0-1), Ally Hesnan; Niamh McInerney (0-6), Sabina Rabbitte (0-3), Megan Gannon; Olwen Rabbitte, Katie Gilchrist (1-14, 0-8 frees), Orla Mullins.
Subs: Ciara Grealish, Chloe Farragher (0-1), Emma Madden, Jessica Dolan, Laoise Kirwan.
Referee – Gavin Donegan.
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