The first hour was nothing to write home about but it ended in a whirl of drama with Cork coming from behind to claim a record 27th All-Ireland senior camogie title thanks to an injury-time winner from substitute Julia White, reports Brendan O’Brien from Croke Park.
For the Munster side, this was about more than just securing their place atop the roll of honour ahead of Dublin: it was revenge for defeat to Kilkenny this time 12 months ago when the Cats had stalled their three-in-a-row bid here at Croke Park.
Both sides lined out with an onus on defence but, though everyone anticipated a low-scoring affair, few thought that the number of talking points would be at such a premium until the last seconds of normal time ebbed away.
The chat at the first whistle was the sight of Gemma O’Connor lining out at centre-back for Cork. The St Finbarr’s player had been all but ruled out, publicly at least, after picking up a knee injury against Galway in the semi-final.
O’Connor would play a huge role, firing over a monster equaliser on the brink of 60 minutes and that on the back of a superb display further back the field where, along with Ashling Thompson, she had been a rock on which so many Kilkenny attacks were dashed.
Kilkenny were further hamstrung by the fact that Cork’s Orla Cronin was doing such an effective job on Anne Dalton whose role at the heart of the Leinster side’s defence was so central to preventing opposition attacks and setting up forays of their own.
If the tactical machinations were intriguing then that was about it.
Cork took the half-time break with five points to their credit, Kilkenny with just two. The reigning champions would have been delighted with such a deficit given the way the game had panned out by then and they hit their stride in the third quarter, taking a 0-7 to 0-6 lead after 39 minutes.
Four times the pair drew level between the 38th and 60th minutes but it was White, a former captain who has endured two years of injury torment, who came off the bench to claim the winner with what was effectively her first touch.
A fairytale ending to a grim afternoon.
Not just for her but for Cork captain Rena Buckley who collected her 18th All-Ireland medal between camogie and football and who became the first person, male or female, to captain her county to senior honours in both codes.
A.O'Connor 0-02, O.Cronin 0-03, O.Cotter 0-02, K.Mackey 0-01, G.O'Connor 0-01, J.White 0-01
M.Farrell 0-02, K.Power 0-01, D.Gaule 0-02, S.Farrell 0-01, M.Walsh 0-01, J.A.Malone 0-02
A Murray; R Buckley, L Treacy, L Coppinger; P Mackey, G O’Connor, C Sigerson; E O’Sullivan, A Thompson; A O’Connor, K Mackey, O Cotter; H Looney, O Cronin, N McCarthy. Substitutes: L Homan for Looney (52); J White for Sigerson (62).
E Kavanagh; C Foley, A Dalton, G Walsh; A Dunphy, C Dormer, D Tobin; M Farrell, A Farrell; JA Malone. D Gaule, K Power; D Morrissey, S Farrell, M Walsh. Substitutes: M Quilty for Morrissey (HT); J Reddy for Malone (59).
O Elliott (Antrim).