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O'Dwyer's goal proves the difference as Kilkenny pip Cork at the death to take All-Ireland

The Cats claimed their second title in three years.

Kilkenny's Aoife Prendergast celebrates.
Kilkenny's Aoife Prendergast celebrates.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Kilkenny 1-13

Cork 1-12

SOPHIE O’DWYER’S 58TH minute goal powered Kilkenny to their 15th All-Ireland camogie title after a nail-biting finish.

Had Cork scored a last second equaliser through Ashling Thompson, Kilkenny would have been left wondering where the extra minute of stoppage-time came from.

O’Dwyer’s goal left the Cats a point in front and after Katrina Mackey and Denise Gaule swapped scores, Cork desperately chased a leveller. As tension mounted, Kilkenny couldn’t clear their lines after Grace Walsh won a brilliant ball in defence, but Thompson’s effort dropped wide. 

The Cats claimed the O’Duffy Cup for the second time in three years, leaving Cork’s wait for a first title since 2018 go on.

It’s a remarkable achievement for Kilkenny considering they lost stars Davina Tobin and Collette Dormer (retirement), Meighan Farrell (travel), Kellyann and Aoife Doyle (cruciate injuries) this season.

When these counties met in the 2018 and 2019 finals, Cork prevailed by a single point on both occasions. Kilkenny turned the tables here and deservedly so. However, they looked to be heading for defeat until O’Dwyer’s late intervention. 

Trailing by two points, Niamh Deely’s shot was half-blocked and left Amy Lee racing back towards her goals. She batted the ball into the square where O’Dwyer was on hand to hit the game’s decisive score. 

It was a slow-burner of a final in front of 23,426. Cork didn’t score for the opening 20 minutes, but Fiona Keating’s goal changed everything for them. The teams went in level at half-time and the second period turned out to be a rip-roaring contest. 

Mariam Walsh was excellent up front for  the Cats. Denis Gaule and Katie Nolan also shone in attack as did Grace Walsh at the back, while Katie Power had a big impact in the final 10 minutes.

It was a heartbreaking way for Cork to lose their second final in succession. Fiona Keating, Katrina Mackey and Hannah Looney gave immense performances in a team that died with their boots on. 

ciara-osullivan-and-fiona-keating-with-michaela-kenneally-and-katie-power Players battle for possession. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Cork made a late change before throw-in, introducing Ciara O’Sullivan for corner-forward Cliona Healy. She came in at centre-back and allowed Laura Treacy drop off as a sweeper.

Initially, they struggled to contain the Kilkenny attack. The Cats raced into a 0-6 to 0-0 lead inside the opening 15 minutes. Denise Gaule and Mariam Walsh were causing problems in the full-forward line and contributed a brace apiece. 

Kilkenny overpowered Cork all over the field in the opening quarter.

Once the Rebels settled, they started to cause Kilkenny problems with their running game. Katrina Mackey burst through on goal and was denied by a last gasp Grace Walsh challenge. 

It was a case of Deja Vu for Cork, who went the opening 22 minutes of semi-final without a score. It took them 20 minutes to register an effort here. Thankfully for Matthew Twomey’s side, that score was a green flag. 

Fiona Keating carried the ball forward from deep and drilled it low into the net. The goal ignited Cork. Their use of the ball improved drastically and the power of their forwards started to tell. 

Amy O’Connor converted two frees and Keating added a point as they moved with the minimum. 

Kilkenny hadn’t scored in 12 minutes when Gaule shot their sixth wide shortly before the break. Mackey opened her account to send the teams in level at the interval.  

After posting 1-4 in the 12 minutes before half-time, Cork moved in front through an O’Connor free early in the second period. 

davy-fitzgerald-and-matthew-twomey Cork coach Davy Fitzgerald and manager Matthew Twomey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Miriam Walsh roared back into the game by scoring a point and winning a free for another. That put Kilkenny back in front, 0-9 to 1-5, but within two minutes the game swung back in Cork’s favour. Keating and Mackey, their only two scorers from play at this stage, added a score apiece. 

Katie Nolan responded with two, one of them from play, before Saoirse McCarthy won the break from Amy Lee’s puck-out and sent over a bomb from way out. 

O’Connor, who came in with 4-24 in the championship, brought her tally to 0-4 from a free. The battle between free-takers continued as Nolan levels from a placed ball of her own. 

Nolan let Cork off the hook when he sent a scoreable free. Buoyed by that reprieve, Cork broke forward and Hannah Looney sent them one in front.

Kilkenny pushed Katie Power into the full-forward line and worked the ball into her almost immediately, but her effort dropped short.  

From there, O’Dwyer turned out to be Kilkenny’s match-winner.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Katie Nolan 0-5 (0-3f), Denise Gaule (0-1f) and Miriam Walsh 0-3 each, Sophie O’Dwyer 1-0, Michaela Kenneally and Tiffanie Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Fiona Keating 1-2, Amy O’Connor 0-5 (0-5f), Katrina Mackey 0-3 (0-3f), Hannah Looney and Saoirse McCarthy 0-1 each.

Kilkenny

1. Aoife Norris (Piltown)

3. Grace Walsh (Tulloroan), 4. Tiffany Fitzgerald (Young Irelands)

6. Claire Phelan (Lisdowney)

5. Niamh Deely (James Stephens), 8. Steffi Fitzgerald (Young Irelands), 2. Michelle Teehan (James Stephens), 

9. Katie Power (Piltown), 7. Laura Murphy (O’Loughlin Gaels),

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12. Julliane Malone (Mullinavat), 11. Michaela Kenneally (Windgap), 13. Mary O’Connell (Clara)

10. Denise Gaule (Windgap), 14. Miriam Walsh (Tulloroan) 15. Katie Nolan (St Martin’s)

Subs

19. Sophie O’Dwyer (James Stephens) for Kenneally (47)

17. Aoife Prendergast (Dicksboro – captain) for O’Connell (54)

Cork

1. Amy Lee (Na Piarsaigh, captain)

2. Méabh Murphy (Ballinora), 3. Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s), 4. Meabh Cahalane (St Finbarr’s)

6. Laura Treacy (Killeagh)

5. Laura Hayes (St Catherine’s), 18. Ciara O’Sullivan (Newcestown), 7. Saoirse McCarthy (Courcey Rovers)

9. Ashling Thompson (Milford), 11. Fiona Keating (Courcey Rovers)

10. Katrina Mackey (Douglas), 12. Chloe Sigerson (Killeagh), 8. Hannah Looney (Killeagh)

14. Sorcha McCartan (St Finbarr’s), 15. Amy O’Connor (St Vincent’s)

Subs

17. Emma Murphy (Glen Rovers) for McCartan (50)

13. Cliona Healy (Aghabullogue) for Meath Murphy (54)

23. Orlaith Cahalane (St Finbarrs) for Sigerson (62)

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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