Cork camogie aces are off to a flier in the All-Ireland series

Cork camogie aces are off to a flier in the All-Ireland series

Clare’s Ciara Grogan tackles Cork’s Julia White. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Cork 3-19 Clare 0-9 

A 2-3 injury-time blitz fleshed out the final margin as Cork commenced their bid for a three-in-a-row of All-Ireland senior crowns in commanding fashion in O'Garney Park, Sixmilebridge on Saturday evening.

In truth, it was far from a flawless opening performance but in what was essentially a blowing off the cobwebs exercise, the holders were never in any danger as they led from start to finish to record their 14th successive All-Ireland Championship victory.

Captain Gemma O'Connor led by example throughout to inspire her side while Orla Cotter, Orla Cronin, Katrina Mackey and unmarkable Vice-Captain Amy O'Connor provided a potent attacking threat that punished their inexperienced hosts with a heady cocktail of superior movement and pace.

Indeed, with nine different scorers, all but one point of the Rebels' 3-19 tally impressively stemmed from play whereas as Clare, without the spine of their team in former All-Stars Chloe Morey and Maire McGrath and nominees Aoife Keane and Orlaith Duggan, relied heavily on the free-taking of Mairead Scanlan to keep in touch.

That said, injury-time goals through substitute Linda Collins and Katrina Mackey did rather flatter the visitors as having carved out a four-point interval advantage with the wind to come, the holders only led by ten as the game drifted over the hour mark, only to end up almost doubling that cushion in a late four-minute rally.

Mackey also provided the crucial opening goal in the 18th minute when put through by Julia White, a score that finally put clear daylight between the sides at 1-3 to 0-1.

Niamh McCarthy strikes clear of Clare’s Roisin Begley. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
Niamh McCarthy strikes clear of Clare’s Roisin Begley. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Consecutive points from Orla Cronin, Orla Cotter and Mackey did extend that margin to seven by the 25th minute. However, in their best period of the game, Clare finished the half with the greater momentum after captain Laura McMahon initiated a three-point rally to ensure that Cork would only take a 1-6 to 0-5 advantage into the dressing rooms.

That would be the extent of the Banner backlash though as Orla Cotter (3) and Amy O'Connor (2) largely quelled the home challenge to soar 1-13 to 0-06 clear by the turn of the final quarter.

There were several opportunities to go for the jugular if required but Cork invariably opted to pick off points as they increasingly opened up a flagging Clare rearguard.

That mindset altered in additional time however as following the score of the game through Amy O'Connor in the right corner, Orla Cronin's subsequent incisive run attracted Clare's last line before passing inside to the unmarked Linda Collins to billow the net.

Further points from O'Connor and Cronin also sandwiched a third goal in the 63rd minute when Collins turned provider for Mackey to handpass past advancing goalkeeper Sarah Loughnane and double her goal bounty.

That final flourish puts Cork firmly in the driving seat in Group 2 ahead of a first real evaluation against main rivals Tipperary whose opening tie against Waterford has to be refixed for a later date after the match was abandoned in the 57th due to a serious injury for the Premier's Nicole Walsh.

Scorers for Cork: K Mackey 2-2, A O'Connor 0-6, O Cotter 0-4 (0-1f), L Collins 1-1, O Cronin 0-2, J White, B Corkery, L Coppinger, C McCarthy 0-1 each.

Clare: M Scanlan 0-6 (0-6f), A O'Keeffe, L McMahon, F Lafferty 0-1 each.

CORK: A Murray; P Mackey, L Treacy, N O'Callaghan; H Looney, G O'Connor, C Sigerson; L Coppinger, B Corkery; K Mackey, O Cronin, O Cotter; A O'Connor, N McCarthy, J White.

Subs: C McCarthy for N McCarthy (42), L Collins for White (42), K Hickey for Coppinger (52), L O'Sullivan for Looney (57).

CLARE: S Loughnane; C Grogan, C Hehir, C Doyle; L McMahon, A Ryan, M Caulfield; A Barrett, R Begley; S Conlon, A O'Keeffe, T O'Keeffe; F Lafferty, M Scanlan, E Kelly.

Subs: N Corry for Barrett (46), S Fahy for McMahon (51), A Keating for Conlon (58).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)

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