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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 18 February, 2019

5 talking points as Cork break Kilkenny hearts and move to the top of camogie's roll of honour

Gemma O’Connor’s recovery from injury and Julia White’s fairytale winner feature.

1. Cork secure bragging rights in latest grudge match

THERE’S BEEN A simmering tension between these two teams in recent seasons, but Cork are back on top after the latest edition of this rivalry.

Hannah Looney with Colette Dormer Hannah Looney is tackled by Colette Dormer Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

A year ago the push between Hannah Looney and Collette Dormer during the pre-game formalities sent social media into a tailspin. After Kilkenny’s league final win over the Rebelettes in April, Cork received criticism for a perceived lack of respect when they started warming down during the acceptance speech.

In the lead-up to this game, Cork boss Paudie Maher said in an interview that Kilkenny played quite defensive, often dropping 10 players behind the ball. As a result, Ann Downey called into a local radio station to defend her team.

Now it’s Cork who claim the bragging rights once again, courtesy of a stoppage-time winner. Roll on 2018.

Gemma O'Connor with Julie Ann Malone Gemma O'Connor powers past Shelly Farrell Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

2. Gemma O’Connor starts against the odds

Cork looked set to be without nine-time All-Star Gemma O’Connor, when they released a statement on Thursday night declaring she would miss out with a knee injury.

Then manager Paudie Murray ruled out the possibility of her starting to RTÉ’s John Kenny prior to the game.

“Gemma will tog out but we’ll see how things go,” he told Kenny. “You never know, we might be up three goals up at the end and she might get her run out. We’ll just see how the warm up goes.”

But O’Connor started at centre-back despite her injury worries and held Kilkenny sharpshooter Denise Gaule to just one point from play. O’Connor saved her greatest intervention to the 61st minute when she rifled over a huge effort from 65m to draw Cork level for a fourth time.

Five minutes later her team-mate Julia White hit the winner. O’Connor now has eight All-Ireland medals and is well placed to pick up her 10th All-Star later this year.

3. Julia White puts injury worries behind her

You couldn’t have written a better script for White today. The 2012 Cork captain has badly struggled with injury over the last 18 months, suffering a ruptured achilles tendon last season before she fractured her foot in April.

The 26-year-old only returned to training in August and only managed about 15 minutes of action this summer.

Some of the pre-game chattered centred around the potential impact white might have off the bench – and so it transpired.

She slotted over her score not far from where Joe Canning landed the winner in Galway’s semi-final against Tipperary, and it was every bit as dramatic.

4. Kilkenny pay for poor opening half

Ann Downey’s side deserve enormous credit for the way they turned around this game after a desperately poor first-half.

Kilkenny went in trailing by 0-5 to 0-2 after playing with the breeze and their attack look devoid of ideas with Shelly Farrell isolated inside.

But Kilkenny hit five of the first six scores after the restart to motor into a two-point lead by the 40th minute. Shelly Farrell and her sister Meighan took control of the game and were involved in all five scores as the Cats put their opening half woes behind them.

Perhaps it was fatigue that caught up with Downey’s players down the home straight, but Cork finished stronger as Kilkenny failed to register a score in the final 13 minutes.

Ashling Thompson lifts the O'Duffy cup Ashling Thompson lifts the O'Duffy Cup Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

5. Cork now the top dogs in camogie

Today’s victory takes Cork past Dublin and to the top of the camogie roll of honour with 27 titles in total.

Dublin dominated the competition from the 1930s-60s, but haven’t won a title since 1984.

With eight All-Ireland wins since 2002, the Rebelettes can finally consider themselves the most successful county in the sport.

A word too on Rena Buckley, who stands alone on top of Gaelic Games with an incredible 18 All-Irelands between Ladies football and camogie. And she’s still only 30. You’d imagine she’ll add to that tally before she calls it a day.

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Rena Buckley makes GAA history with an incredible 18 All-Ireland medals

Cork snatch All-Ireland camogie title as last gasp Julia White point secures dramatic victory

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Kevin O'Brien

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