A STRONG second-half display saw Cork defeat Kerry to secure their place in the knockout stages of the Division 2 national camogie league at Church Road last Saturday.
Mark McCarthy’s Cork team struggled at times playing into a strong wind during the opening half but managed to build a four-point lead thanks, in part, to Ali Smith’s accuracy. The second period was a different story as a much-improved Cork held Kerry scoreless for 22 minutes while Smith and Finola Neville added goals to see off the Kingdom.
Cork are away to Galway in their final Division 2 fixture this Saturday. Avoiding defeat would cement a home draw for an improving Cork in the knockout phase.
There were plenty of changes to the host’s starting line-up following the previous weekend’s victory away to Tipperary. Ennisekeane’s Danielle Carroll began at full-back with Ballinascarthy’s Claire Kingston added to the half-back line. Both players acquitted themselves well. Kilbrittain/Timoleague’s Hannah Sexton and Kate Wall were sprung from the bench with the latter getting her name on the scoresheet.
A determined Cork start reaped immediate dividends with Ali Smith twice splitting the posts. In between, Aoife Hurley fired wide of the net after an initial shot rebounded off a post.
Kerry utilised an extra player in defence but were unable to prevent Clodagh Finn from stretching Cork’s lead to three points after six minutes. Playing with the aid of a strengthening wind, Kerry enjoyed a purple patch with the excellent Patrice Diggin firing over two quick-fire points, including one free.
A scrappy spell preceded the first water-break in which Ballyhea’s Rachel Harty pucked over her team’s first score in ten minutes.
The home team were quickly into their stride on the resumption however, with Kate Kilcommins and Ali Smith scores making it 0-6 to 0-2 on 21 minutes. A free-flowing end to the first period saw each team add two points, as Cork led 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval.
Cork completely dominated the second half with Lauren Callanan and Rachel Harty controlling midfield and Aoife O’Callaghan and Kate Kilcommins giving nothing away at the back. Superb Finola Neville and Aoife Hurley efforts extended Cork’s advantage to six points and the game was over as a contest once the hosts found the net after 38 minutes. Finola Neville gained possession and squeezed her shot past goalkeeper Aoife Fitzgerald to make it 1-10 to 0-4.
Despite a gallant effort, Kerry were being beaten in every sector of the pitch and an Ali Smith free preceded a 49th minute goal from the stylish Aghada player.
Mark McCarthy emptied his bench as Jackie Horgan floated over Kerry’s only point of the second half.
The closing stages saw Cork add three additional scores as Katie Walsh, Kate Wall and Hayley Ryan (free) found their range to copper fasten a 2-14 to 0-6 win.
Scorers - Cork: A Smith 1-4 (2f); F Neville 1-1; R Harty, A Hurley 0-2 each; K Kilcommins, C Finn, K Wall, H Ryan (1f), K Walsh 0-1 each. Kerry: P Diggin 0-3 (2f); J Horgan 0-2.
Cork: S Beausang; C Daly, D Carroll, G Hannon; A Moloney (captain), A O’Callaghan, C Kingston; K Kilcommins, L Callanan; K O'Keefe, A Smith, R Harty; C Finn, F Neville, A Hurley. Subs: H Ryan for C Kingston (37), K Walsh for C Finn (41), K Wall for F Neville (44), C O’Leary for L Callanan (inj, 49), A Nic A Bhaird for R Harty (54), H Sexton for A Moloney (56), M Murphy for A Smith (57).
Kerry: A Fitzgerald; E Ryall, S Murphy, M Costello; A O'Connor, N Leen, A Behan; P Diggin, K Lynch; R McCarthy, J Horgan, L Collins; AM Leen, J Fitzell, C Spillane. Subs: E Slattery for S Murphy (inj, 39), A Whelan for A M Leen (47), B Horan for J Fitzell (50), S Walsh for C Spillane (56), S Lawlor for K Lynch (58), A O’Sullivan for N Leen (inj, 63).
Referee: K O’Brien (Limerick).