SHIRLEY MOLONEY REPORTS
GEMMA O’Connor feels Cork’s successful defence of the Munster senior camogie title is the ideal stepping stone towards the All-Ireland series.
Level at half time with Tipperary on Saturday evening in Cashel, reigning All-Ireland and Munster champions Cork blew the Premier County away in the second half.
Cork found another level midway through the second period when they scored 1-5 without reply in a ten-minute spell to secure back-to-back Munster senior titles.
With the All-Ireland series starting later this month – Cork are in Group 2 alongside Clare, Dublin, Meath, Tipperary and Waterford – this was the ideal preparation.
‘The Munster championship is a separate competition and doesn’t have a direct effect on the All-Ireland series – but it’s important because it gives us quality games at this time of the year and let’s us see where we are ahead of the championship,’ Cork captain Gemma O’Connor said.
‘It’s not as serious as the All-Ireland but it’s a competition that we always want to win. It gives you a boost going into the championship. It’s a stepping stone.
‘And it’s silverware too. There are only a few trophies on offer every season so it’s one that we want to win.’
The experienced O’Connor at centre back, as always, was rock solid in the Cork defence on Saturday. Laura Treacy at full back and Libby Coppinger were another two to shine in defence.
The first half was an open and free-flowing game with little separating the sides. Megan Ryan got Tipp up and running with an early point before Orla Cotter, unerring on placed balls, fired over her first of five a to level proceedings.
Two Nicole Walsh frees in quick succession had Tipperary two clear after five minutes. But an unanswered Cork brace from Amy O’Connor and a fine Chloe Sigerson long-range effort soon levelled the game.
After 13 minutes Tipp struck for the first goal of the final. When an Eibhlis McDonnell placed ball came back off the upright, Miriam Campion blasted to the net past Cork goalkeeper Amy Lee.
A brace from player-of-the-match Linda Collins and a fine point off the stick of Katrina Mackey on the run had the sides all square again, ten minutes from the break.
Tipp were giving as good as they got. Three points in a row saw them lead ahead of half time – but Amy O’Connor’s goal, after a surging run down the right wing, levelled the match for the fourth time. Walsh and Katrina Mackey swapped scores and the teams were level at the break, 1-7 apiece.
In the second half Cork outscored Tipp by 2-10 to 1-3. Linda Collins of Courceys led the way. But Cork conceded a second goal early in the half that pushed Tipperary 2-7 to 0-7 ahead after Miriam Campion got the the final touch on a goal-bound shot.
‘Linda Collins played well, she’d a great performance. Amy O’Connor had a great game too and the forwards played well,’ Gemma O’Connor says.
‘It was good to see too that so many players got on the scoreboard and that we were not over reliant on one or two players all the time.
‘We scored 3-12 from play and we weren’t over reliant either on frees. It was a good performance against a good team and it’s just the test that we needed now – but we still have a lot to work on ahead of the championship.’
After Tipp’s early second-half goal Collins struck for Cork. She was a handful in the Cork attack and blasted to the net to level before pushing Cork ahead one minute later with a super long-range effort.
A further four points without reply courtesy of Lauren Homan, two Cotter frees and a fine Mackey effort had Cork five clear after 48 minutes.
A Grace O’Brien 45-metre free pulled one back for Tipp, but when substitute Niamh McCarthy was on the end of a Collins pass, she made no mistake to hit the back of the net and push Cork seven clear. That goal extinguished any Tipperary hopes.
A superb Gemma O’Connor point from distance was cancelled out by Karen Kennedy before two Cotter frees either side of a Julia White point saw Cork take an impressive victory.
Next up is the All-Ireland series in a few weeks.
Cork: L Collins 1-3, O Cotter 0-5 (5f), A O’Connor 1-1, N McCarthy 1-0, K Mackey 0-3, L Homan, L Coppinger, C Sigerson, G O’Connor, J White 0-1 each.
Tipperary: M Campion 2-0, N Walsh 0-5 (3f, 2 45), G O’Brien 0-2 (2f), O Dwyer, Megan Ryan, K Kennedy 0-1 each.
Cork: Amy Lee (Na Piarsaigh); Leanne O’Sullivan (Glen Rovers), Laura Treacy (Killeagh), Niamh O’Callaghan (Sarsfields); Pamela Mackey (Douglas), Gemma O’Connor (St Finbarr’s), Chloe Sigerson (Killeagh); Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s), Orla Cotter (St Catherines); Amy O’Connor (St Vincents), Orla Cronin (Enniskeane), Katrina Mackey (Douglas); Lauren Homan (St Vincent’s), Linda Collins (Courcey Rovers), L Hayes (St Catherines).
Subs: Niamh McCarthy (Inniscarra) for L Homan (50), Julia White (Douglas) for K Mackey (55), Ciara McCarthy (Aghabullogue) for L Collins (57), Cliona Healy (Aghabullogue) for N O’Callaghan (60).
Tipperary: C Burke; J Burke, G Grace, E Loughman; C Quirke, K Kennedy, A McGrath; M Ryan, Mary Ryan; O Dwyer, E McDonnell, E Fryday; N Walsh, N Treacy, M Campion.
Subs: G O’Brien for N Walsh (45), C McKeogh for M Campion (49), L Loughnane for Mary Ryan (51).
Referee: Kevin O’Brien (Limerick).