Report by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Kilkenny and Cork will meet in a mouth-watering quarter-final rematch of last year’s Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie final as part of a double-header with the All-Ireland hurling semi-final involving Kilkenny and Clare next Sunday.
The other quarter-final will be between Tipperary and Antrim and will take place ahead of the hurling semi-final between Limerick and Galway on Saturday.
Waiting for them in the semi-finals will be League champions Galway and last year’s semi-finalists and current Division 1B League champions Waterford.
Meanwhile, Wexford, Down and Offaly will battle to avoid relegation to the intermediate ranks.
The Cats fought out a barnstorming draw 2-8 to 1-11 draw with Tipperary at UPMC Nowlan Park, a result that sent them through as runners-up to their neighbours.
Tipp lost goalkeeper Caoimhe Bourke and joint-skipper Clodagh Quirke to injury in the first half but were able to call on former All-Star netminder Áine Slattery, while Mairéad Eviston had a big effect in helping to reduce the impact of Denise Gaule.
The visitors got off to a great start, an uncharacteristic mistake from Kilkenny captain Aoife Norris punished by Róisín Howard for a goal.
Kilkenny responded in style with a fantastic goal by Denise Gaule and then another major from Aoife Prendergast to move four points ahead but with Eimear McGrath accurate from placed balls, Tipp shot five of the next six scores, including a brace of points by Casey Hennessy, to go in level at half-time, 2-4 to 1-7.
The dominated much of the second half but were very wasteful and though chiselling out a three-point lead and holding Kilkenny scoreless for 17 second-half minutes, Asha McHardy, Katie Nolan and Gaule, with a huge effort, suddenly restored parity and they could not be separated.
In the other Group 2 outing, Wexford needed to defeat Dublin well and for Kilkenny to lose heavily to have a chance of qualification but in the end, a first victory of the season in national competition for Dublin consigned the Yellowbellies to the relegation play-offs on a 0-16 to 1-10 scoreline.
Aisling Maher and Aisling O’Neill scored ten points between them for Gerry McQuaid’s side and though Ciara O’Connor hit 1-7 for Wexford, it wasn’t enough to deny the Metropolitans.
Two first-half goals gave Cork the freedom to open up in the second half and record the 3-19 to 0-8 victory over Clare at Cusack Park that cemented their quarter-final qualification.
The Rebels have stuttered to date but those majors from Sorcha McCartan, after Amy O’Connor blocked an attempted clearance, and a trademark Fiona Keating effort sent them in at the break leading by 2-6 to 0-6, with O’Connor and Lorna McNamara slotting five points each.
Matthew Twomey was without the services of Hannah Looney and fit-again Orlaith Cahalane, who were on football duty, but would have been delighted to be able to call upon vastly experienced defender Pamela Mackey after injury.
The Leesiders were able to play with more freedom after the resumption, though McNamara’s departure through injury early on was a sickening blow to the hosts. O’Connor raised a third green flag on her way to registering a tally of 1-9 and eight different players getting on the scoresheet.
Galway confirmed their spot on top of Group 1 with a third straight triumph, this time proving too strong for Down at Páirc Esler to the tune of 1-18 to 0-10.
Cathal Murray’s side had the damage done in the first half and were ahead 1-10 to 0-4 at the interval. Carrie Dolan put seven points onto Niamh Hanniffy’s goal, while Niamh Mallon hit all the Down scores and it was a cruise to the finish line, though the home team battled all the way.
Waterford delivered a real statement of intent when sailing to a 5-16 to 0-10 victory over Antrim in a clash between two already qualified teams at the top of Group 3 at the SETU Arena.
The visitors just could not cope with Waterford’s scoring artillery and Seán Power’s squad were ruthless in scoring four goals in nine minutes in the first half to put the tie to bed.
Beth Carton began the goal rush and Mairead O’Brien struck twice before Niamh Rockett registered her customary major. Carton lobbed Caitriona Graham for her second goal early in the second half and finished with 2-10 to seal top spot.
In the group’s other game, Limerick ensured their senior status for next year by waltzing to a 5-14 to 0-5 success, goals from Sarah O’Brien, Áine Reynolds, Claire Keating, Laura Fennelly and Lizanna Boylan making it a day to forget for Offaly, who were only 1-5 to 0-5 behind at the break but failed to score in the second half.