GALWAY manager Cathal Murray was delighted to defeat Cork by 0-15 to 0-12 and secure a semi-final berth in the All-Ireland senior championship.
But had plenty of praise for his opponents. It was a good performance by Cork who have introduced a number of debutants for the 2020 season.
The champions recovered from a slow start that saw them fall two points behind but established a five-point interval lead and keep their noses in front in a low-scoring but intense second half.
“Cork started really well, got the penalty and Sarah made a great save,” Murray noted.
“Up to the water break we were struggling, they were 3-1 up, but the second quarter we played really well and that’s the reason we won today.”
Given the margin, the four points accumulated by Rebecca Hennelly from two converted side-line pucks in that second quarter were hugely significant.
“It’s a serious skill, and from both sides of the field as well,” Murray acknowledged.
“They were four points we really needed. She’s able to take them. She scored a goal in the county final as well from a line ball.
“It was all about today. We needed to get to a semi-final. It would be a long journey down to Cork if we lost, only a six-day turnaround.
“So, it was really important, to get straight through to the semi-final and avoid Kilkenny.
“Cork aren’t gone. We know they have players to come back in. They’re a serious team and gave a massive performance out there.
“It could have gone either way to be straight about it and they could be meeting us later in the year, you’d never know.
“It’s nice to top the group but in 2015, I think, we beat Cork in the group and they went on to beat us in the All-Ireland final.
“In ’16, we beat Kilkenny and they went on and won the All-Ireland. Last year, we went in the backdoor (quarter-final) and won the All-Ireland.
“Teams can come and get momentum through the quarter-final and be an awful lot more dangerous later on in the Championship so we’re taking nothing for granted.
“We’re in a semi-final, simple as that. It could be Cork in three weeks’ time, or Tipp, Waterford or Clare. “They’re serious teams and that will be a big challenge for us.”
It was a good Cork performance.
Amy Lee in goal has come on leaps and bounds.
She advanced quickly for two Galway goal chances and her puck outs are strong.
She is admirably filling the boots of the great Aoife Murray while still developing.
Cork’s play was sharper with some good deliveries. Galway’s defence are very good and we were dispossessed many times due to excellent marksmanship.
Cork scored just five points from play and when coming up against such good defenders need to be picking off scores from further out.
I’d like to see Ashling Thompson and Chloe Sigerson do this as they have the range. Although I feel that Chloe is best placed in Cork’s half-back line.
Orla Cronin is another capable of scoring from Cork’s half-forward line, even if playing deep. Equally, Galway scored four points from play indicating a good defensive display by Cork.
Cork will beat Clare today and Cathal feels that Kilkenny are seeded on the other side so Cork could well end up playing Galway again in two weeks.
They won’t be overawed by that considering the three-point defeat. Cork missed a penalty and Galway took four points from two side-line cuts.
Of course, that could happen again, a team is almost sure to get a side-line cut around the opposition 45. Previously, giving away a side-line wasn’t seen as a real threat.
It will be from now on if the game has players the calibre of Rebecca Hennelly. Chloe Sigerson is another who takes a strong side-line and she came close to scoring one last Sunday but it edged narrowly wide.
After Hennelly’s display, you can see this art becoming more of a focal point for teams. It’s an art that’s poor in club camogie, rarely practised.
While the two points has been in for a few years now it seems to have only dawned with players that this is a huge advantage if you get it right.
I’ve seen many penalties in both club and intercounty camogie this year with a very small return. Most are poorly struck. Not stepping over the 20-metre line has helped the goalkeeper.
Players are standing over the free rather than striding up to it with momentum and they need momentum for strength in the delivery.
A penalty miss is a big blow to a team and a huge boost for the opposition, particularly in big games.
The second quarter-final will involve Waterford and Tipperary after Beth Carton scored 1-14 in Waterford’s 2-17 to 0-10 victory over Westmeath at Cusack Park to secure the vital runner-up spot in group 2 behind Kilkenny, who accounted for Limerick by 2-16 to 0-8 at Nowlan Park.
Tipperary were the first team to qualify after topping group 3 on October 25th.
There was nothing at stake in terms of extending their season beyond last weekend but Wexford and Offaly served up a treat in their championship group 1 tie at Bellefield in Enniscorthy before the Model county prevailed by 1-15 to 1-13.