THE Cork camogie team take centre-stage this weekend, facing Kilkenny at Croke Park in the All-Ireland semi-final, Sunday, 4pm, live on RTE2.
This Sunday's clash is a repeat of last year’s semi-final pairings with Galway taking on Tipperary in the opening double-header.
Kilkenny emerged with a two-point victory over Cork, 2-10 to 1-11 and Galway defeated Tipperary 1-11 to 0-8. The only player gone from Cork’s lineout that day is the legendary Gemma O’Connor, who grabbed Cork’s only goal.
On the other side, Anne Dalton has retired, albeit she returned at the 11th-hour in last weekend’s quarter-final to stand in as a sub goalkeeper – strange one that. She’s a huge loss to the Cats, so often the player that pulled games out of the fire for them.
It was her goal that gave Kilkenny the lead just before half time last November. It was a game that Cork dominated in the early stages, leading 1-3 to no score after eight minutes, and in the latter stages, holding Kilkenny scoreless for 21 minutes of that second half. Yet they couldn’t find the target when they needed it most. Kilkenny went on to win the All-Ireland and that must have sickened Cork.
Katrina Mackey and Amy O’Connor will thrive if they can get space and fast ball. How to curtail that space is something manager Brian Dowling will be trying to mastermind in advance.
Cork have selection choices to make. Orla Cronin and Fiona Keating are two good centre-forwards, and curtailing centre-back Meighan Farrell must be a key component of their approach, whoever is selected there.
Ciara O’Sullivan is a hard grafter on the wing and as we all know, your off-the-ball work is as important as when on it. Linda Collins and Chloe Sigerson are Cork’s other potential starters at corner- and wing-forward respectively.
How Kilkenny approach their own attack will go a long way to deciding the outcome. If Ellen Murphy starts, will they try and expose a player settling into her first championship season. With Pam Mackey back in the fray, her experience is a must somewhere in that defence.
Aoife Doyle is very experienced at left corner forward and in the opposite corner is Katie Nolan, who’s not afraid to take a pop and possesses very good stick work. Mary O’Connell and Miriam Walsh are very strong physically at 11 and 14.
Katie Power is back from injury this season, but I’m not sure she’s back to her brilliant best yet. She seems to be dragging a little but last weekend’s quarter-final will stand to her and she’s always a threat.