Cats slam door on Dublin



Kilkenny’s top-flight pedigree shone through as they responded to Dublin’s excellent start in ruthless fashion, going in at half-time leading by nine points having trailed by four and streaking clear for a convincing Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie quarter-final victory.

Former All-Star Aisling Maher excelled from placed balls, Hannah Hegarty battled hard in the heart of defense and there were glimpses of the fairy dust Leaving Cert student Aisling O’Neill possesses – though Dublin couldn’t get her involved enough.But cracks were evident in their attempts to work the ball out of defense as Kilkenny put a squeeze on them, the likes of Katie Nolan and Julieanne Malone among the whirling dervishes causing mayhem.

Dublin, who started with Rivervalley native and former Dublin intermediate captain Ciara Buchannan in midfield, had ratted Kilkenny with a 13th-minute goal through Niamh Gannon, but the Metropolitans weren’t able to capitalise as Kilkenny took control.

Denise Gaule’s 24th-minute penalty, coupled with a splendid goal from Miriam Walsh nine minutes after the break, saw Kilkenny romp home as they set up a semi-final clash against Galway next Sunday.

For defeated Dublin manager Adrian O’Sullivan, it was a disappointing end to a game that had promised so much early on.

“It’s a disappointing result for the group,” he said.

“We got the start we wanted. Tactically we were spot-on, we were winning a lot of breaks, we got a great goal from Niamh Gannon and Aisling O’Neill was flying inside.

“But Kilkenny made a few changes on the line and in that second quarter we were struggling to contain Claire Phelan. They got a run on us and that’s what Kilkenny do and we couldn’t really stop it.”

Nonetheless the Limerick native believes that there is much to build on for next year.

“We finished with five of last year’s minor team, so it’s a work in progress. Unfortunately we came up against a top-class team and we just weren’t good enough on the day. But look, we’ve developed a lot. This time last year we were up in Newry in a relegation play-off for the league and we escaped by the skin of our teeth, so we’ve come a long way as a group.”

It didn’t look like a 14-point game in the opening quarter. Gaule converted two early frees, the first after an intervention from Willie Barrett on HawkEye duty, but Maher replied with two of her own.

Walsh and O’Neill swapped points from play before Niamh Gannon lashed home an outstanding goal in the 13th minute.

Elyse Jamieson Murphy took up possession around the middle and fed Emma Flanagan, who in turn sent Gannon on her way. The Naomh Jude center-forward cruised into the space vacated cleverly by O’Neill and provided the definitive finish the move demanded.

Dublin were four points clear and belief was growing, but Kilkenny extinguished the hope without fuss, scoring a goal and 10 points without reply.

What was notable was that they didn’t go looking for the rapier thrust immediately, going for death by a thousand cuts – or eight points on the trot to be precise. Gaule chipped in with five of those, while Malone, Walsh and Mary O’Connell slotted through the posts as well.

The goal arrived from a 24th-minute penalty, Gaule repeating her heroics from the All-Ireland final two years ago after Walsh was fouled.

It was 1-16 to 1-5 at the break, and though the scoring rate slowed a little in the second half as the intensity inevitably dropped and both sides emptied their benches, it was Kilkenny who always carried the greater threat.

Walsh grabbed her goal in the 40th minute, after ghosting into oceans of space and being found by a ground pass from Gaule.

Gannon, Maher and O’Neill raised white flags for Dublin, though it was something they never did symbolically. It was just Kilkenny had too much power and firepower, with O’Connell, Nolan, Gaule and Sophie Dwyer ensuring a saunter to the finish line.

Scorers: Kilkenny – Denise Gaule 1-10 (0-10f, 1-0), Miriam Walsh 1-3, Katie Nolan 0-3, Mary O’Connell 0-2, Julianne Malone, Katie Power, Miriam Bambrick, Laura Murphy , Michaela Kenneally, Sophie Dwyer 0-1 each; Dublin: A Maher 0-9 (0-8f), Niamh Gannon 1-1, Aisling O’Neill 0-1 (f).

Kilkenny: A Norris, M Teehan, G Walsh, M Bambrick, T Fitzgerald, C Phelan, L Murphy, S Fitzgerald, K Power, M Walsh, D Gaule, K Nolan, J Malone, M O’Connell, M Kenneally. Subs: N Deely, for Teehan (44), A Prendergast for Bambrick (47), S Crowley for Malone (55), A McHard for O’Connell (55).

DUBLIN: E Mooney, M Kelleher, C Buchanan, E O’Brien, R Baker, H Hegarty, E O’Brien, A Maher, G Couch, E Flanagan, N Gannon, J Couch, E Jamieson Murphy, A O’Neill , A Twomey. Subs: K Finnegan for Twomey (37), L Butler for Flanagan (42).

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