SUNDAY: Liberty Insurance All-Ireland camogie championship: Galway v Cork, Pearse Stadium, 2pm
GALWAY top group 1 of the Liberty Insurance All Ireland senior championship on points difference over Cork and it is the meeting between the group’s top two that will determine who advances straight to the semi-final or goes via the quarter-final route.
Either way both sides are through to the knockout stages. This game is more to do with laying down a marker for the possibility that could arise for both teams meeting in the latter part of the championship. Galway will go into the game as favourites.
They retain the panel which saw them take the county’s third All Ireland senior title last September whereas Cork have six players last weekend either making their debut or having just a little senior championship experience under their belt.
Galway outscored Offaly last weekend by 3-13 to 0-3. I wouldn’t be getting too excited over that. Offaly are weak and if anything, I’d have expected more points scored by the champions.
It brought a smile to those listening to Amy O’Connor’s interview after their Wexford victory as she informed us that it was 237 days since Cork’s last competitive outing. Cork did look rusty.
Wexford played a very defensive style, in the opening 20 minutes in particular, and you wouldn’t blame Cork for trying to work the ball between the lines so as not to launch it into a defence packed with purple and gold.
But at the same time when space was there the delivery wasn’t quick enough as Cork continued to try and work the ball up the field even when space had opened up for them. Cork have two midfielders in Ashling Thompson and Chloe Sigerson who can drive the ball 70 yards comfortably, yet they too choose to deliver a short ball in instead of driving the ball over the bar when they had time to do so.
Uncharacteristically Sigerson also passed a free laterally when she had the range to attempt a point. There was complacency in striking as players got hooked unnecessarily.
So those are the cobwebs that needed dusting down after 237 days in competition isolation. I’d expect to see a livelier Cork on Sunday with a game now behind them.
Ellen Murphy, Izzy O’Regan and Fiona Keating all made their championship debuts. Add in Amy Lee, Cliona Healy and Saoirse McCarthy who haven’t seen a huge amount of action either and it’s clear Cork are in rebuilding phase. Healy and McCarthy both made an immediate impact when introduced and we’ll see if they get a start on Sunday or are held as impact subs again.
Galway have strong players throughout the field; Shauna Healy, Niamh Kilkenny, Rebecca Hennelly, Niamh Hannify, Aoife Donoghue, the McGrath sisters; Niamh, Orlaith and Siobhan, Ailish O’Reilly, Carrie Dolan and Catriona Cormican.
Galway struck 5-17 against Wexford, Cork 3-12 last week. Galway however conceded three goals to the Slaneysiders which gives the indication of vulnerabilities defensively and Cork need to capitalise. Galway won’t go defensive like Wexford did, elements permitting.
If there is a gale on the day they could deploy a sweeper and most teams would but if the weather is reasonable Galway will play 15 on 15 and let every player go out to win their spot. They’ll attack the game full on and therefore it will be a good test for Cork. You would expect Cork to play more direct against this opposition.
Full credit to Galway for offering to switch this game from Saturday to Sunday in order to accommodate Cork’s dual players who line out tomorrow against Kerry in their All-Ireland championship group game. You’re always the wrong side of it when your team play second to the dual player.
Hannah Looney, Fiona Keating, Libby Coppinger, Meabh Cahalane and Ciara McCarthy will be affected having mentally and physically taken part in such an important game for the footballers and then to have to travel to Galway on Sunday for the camogie game is going to take its toll. That’s where Cork’s panel will be required.