REWATCHING the All-Ireland semi-final between Cork and Kilkenny on Sunday afternoon, emphasised it’s a game Cork will truly regret losing.
That’s what will hurt the players most. But on the day the best team won because Kilkenny scored more.
It’s as simple as that. It’s rarely in the latter stages of a championship that you can have so many wides and hope to get over the line.
Ann Dalton played a roaming game. She seemed to have the freedom to play as she wished and it doesn’t look as if any Cork player, in particular, was tasked to mark her. I thought Pam Mackey would have followed but she only went so far.
At times in the first half, you could see Katrina Mackey close to Ann as both players played deep. Ann popped back into centre-forward at times and was on the edge of the square for Denise Gaule’s free which led to that wonder catch and goal despite the attention of Pam Mackey and Laura Treacy.
Owen Elliot made his fixation with steps clear from the throw-in when he penalised Denise Gaule just on the fourth step. While it’s frustrating, if it’s consistent across the board it’s acceptable but I thought the free against Pam Mackey on 12 minutes was wrong. She had tapped the ball to hurley and didn’t over-carry.
He was so picky on the fourth step you could understand if there is irritation around Miriam Walsh’s goal. There was at least six.
He penalised Michelle Teehan harshly minutes later too though while that free looked like one that Orla Cronin would score with her eyes closed it went right of the post.
It was a very soft free on 42 minutes which makes a mockery of the new contact rule and handed Denise Gaule her sixth point and Kilkenny a four-point lead.
But all of the above is not the reason Cork lost.
They more than had their chances to reverse the deficit. Early on Kilkenny were gifted two Cork puck-outs and hit wides.
Denise Gaule struck wide from close distance but more obvious was that she had a free player inside her and had she laid it off it was a golden goal opportunity.
Pam Mackey was clearly struggling after Walsh’s goal. She wasn’t going to contribute much with one shoulder but stayed on the pitch another 10 minutes.
Davina Tobin, Grace Walsh, Michelle Teehan, Colette Dormer, Claire Phelan and Meighan Farrell were extremely strong in defence in that second half. Cork were struggling up front, particularly in the full-forward line and I thought we’d see a change sooner.
Cork went 15 minutes without a score before Katrina Mackey pointed with 45 on the clock. Cork were outnumbering Kilkenny on her run in two to one. On another day Mackey would have gone for the jugular.
Cork got nothing from Chloe Sigerson’s three side-line cuts. Two went wide.
With two points on offer for this in camogie you can’t blame Chloe for taking the chance but when it doesn’t work it’s possession lost.
I wouldn’t be at all worried about Cork’s future. They’re a young side with loads to offer going forward.
Every defeat is difficult to take but it’s a lesson learned for the many younger players that joined the panel this year.