Galway claim league crown with win over Cork

The Galway team celebrate at the conclusion of the 2023 VERY Camogie Leagues Division 1A Final at Croke Park

The Galway team celebrate at the conclusion of the 2023 VERY Camogie Leagues Division 1A Final at Croke Park

Galway Senior Camogie delivered a 2-13 to 1-12 victory over Cork to claim the 2023 Very Camogie division 1A league crown for a second successive year.

In a sun-drenched Croke Park on Sunday, and a repeat of the 2022 final, Galway displayed grit and determination throughout the contest, and once again their ability to close out a close encounter under pressure was admirable.

The win brings Galway’s tally of National League titles to seven - three in the last five years under Cathal Murray’s management reign.

Orla Cahalane had delivered a dream start for Cork when she found the back of the next after three minutes. Her initial shot was hooked by Dervla Higgins but her powerful ground strike flew past Fiona Ryan into the net.

Galway, with a mix of youth and experience, did not panic with Dolan replying a minute later with a well taken score from play. Cahalane, however, looked dangerous each time she was on the ball, causing a few headaches for the Galway defence with her strong runs. She added to her tally with the second score in the seventh minute before Dolan, through a free, and Saoirse McCarthy exchanged scores in the 10th minute.

Dolan, with another free, and Sabina Rabbitte, with a long-range point, reduced the deficit to one midway through the half, before Fiona Keating added another point to Cork’s tally.

However in the 17th minute, Niamh McPeake took on the Cork defence, and although her initial shot on goal was well defended by Amy Lee in the Cork net, the deflection fell into the path of Dolan who made no mistake as she pulled on the ball and it trickled over the line and into the Cork net, giving Galway the lead for the first time.

Aoife Donohue followed up with a point from play to extend Galway’s lead before Amy O’Connor scored a free - Cork’s first score in seven minutes. Although Donohue replied from the reset, Cork finished the half with four unanswered points through Laura Hayes, a Sorcha McCartan free and two O’Connor frees, to go ahead by 1-8 to 1-6.

Galway, needing a big second-half performance, opened through a Dolan free before Chloe Sigerson replied, but another two Dolan frees brought the sides level with 20 minutes remaining.

With it all to play for, O’Connor bagged her fourth free, but five minutes later Galway delivered a crucial score. Ailish O’Reilly provided the perfect pass to Rabbitte, who, in front of her marker, took the pass well and lobbed the ball over the advancing Amy Lee and into the back of the Cork net.

Behind by two-points with 15 minutes of normal time remaining, McCartan tried to settle the ship for Cork, but Dolan, through a free, and Donohue from play extended Galway’s lead to three with 10 minutes left.

O’Connor and Dolan swapped frees on the 52nd and 54th minutes, and with a goal between the sides, Cork put serious pressure on Galway’s backs, who defended well in the final few minutes, while also winning some all-important frees.

O’Connor did break through in the 59th minute, but her pass to McCartan hung in the air, allowing time for Galway's defence to swarm, and her shot was eventually blocked and cleared from the Galway line. Áine Keane scored the all-important insurance point for Galway in the 61st minute to seal the victory for the Tribeswomen.

From defence to attack, Galway upped their performance once again for this league final. While their campaign had not started well, Galway learned the lessons from that defeat to Tipperary. In defence, Shauna Healy, Roisín Black, Fiona Ryan and Rachel Hanniffy were some of Galway’s top performers, while up front player of the game Aoife Donohue, Galway’s top scorer in the league Carrie Dolan, and Sabina Rabbitte performed very well.

The team's focus now switches to the championship which starts in seven weeks when Galway welcome the same opponents for this opening game of the championship.

Galway: F Ryan, S Healy, R Black, D Higgins, S Gardiner, E Helebert, R Hanniffy, N Hanniffy, C Hickey, S Rabbitte (1-1 ), C Dolan (1-8, 0-7f ), A Keane (0-1 ), N McPeake, A Donohue (0-3 ), A O’Reilly. Subs: S Corcoran for McPeake (41 ), K A Porter for O’Reilly (62 ), J Hughes for Rabbitte (63 )

Cork: A Lee, M Murphy, L Coppinger, M Cahalane, P Mackey, L Treacy, I O’Regan, S McCarthy (0-1 ), L Hayes (0-1 ), C Sigerson, F Keating, C Healy, A O'Connor (0-5f ), O Cahalane (1-1 ), S McCartan (0-2f ). Subs: E Murphy for Sigerson (44 ), O Cronin for Healy (46 ), A Healy for O’Regan (48 ), L Hayes 0-1 for Cahalane (50 )

Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford )


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