Cork v Galway: Rebels target first league title since 2013 at Croke Park

Great rivals square off in another decider on Saturday night, live on RTE
Cork v Galway: Rebels target first league title since 2013 at Croke Park

Siobhán McGrath of Galway in action against Libby Coppinger of Cork during the 2021 All-Ireland Camogie final at Croke Park. Picture: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

WE are back for another Croke Park clash as Cork and Galway meet in the Littlewoods National league final tomorrow night.

Just over six months after they served up a thrilling All-Ireland final when a late Galway rally saw them edge past Cork, the sides meet at headquarters again.

While we have got the pairing that was predicted, it hasn’t all been plain sailing as both sides had to really dig deep and earn their place in the decider.

It took a pointed free by Rebecca Hennelly in the eighth minute of injury-time to give Galway a 1-11 to 0-13 triumph over spirited Tipperary who were devastated to lose in controversial circumstances.

The free was hugely contentious and was disputed by the Tipp management after Claire Hogan was adjudged to have charged into Sarah Dervan.

Hennelly had to hold her nerve to convert from just outsides the 45 close to the side- line to nail the score that gave Galway a place in the final.

In that game, Cathal Murray introduced the Sarsfields duo Orlaith and Siobhan McGrath on 47 minutes and it helped turn the game in his side’s favour.

Both had been absent due to their All-Ireland Club Championship duties, but when the need was greatest Murray sprung them from the bench.

In last year’s final it was Siobhan McGrath who was the thorn in Cork’s side as she contributed 1-2 of Galway’s tally with her goal with four minutes remaining the difference at the full-time whistle.

Cork have earned their spot the hard way also.

In their semi-final against Kilkenny, played in horrific weather conditions, a late Chloe Sigerson free secured their place in the decider but only by virtue of better scoring difference and after recording victories over Clare and Limerick.

Galway came through undefeated with wins over Dublin, Down, Tipperary, and Offaly. It hard to believe it has been 2013 since Cork won the league.

Galway won in 2019 and lost to last year’s final to Kilkenny, a goal separating the sides at full-time.

This year, under new management, Cork have put in a good campaign where they have been minus Pamela Mackey, Hannah Looney, Orla Cronin, Linda Collins, and Fiona Keating from the side who lined out in last year’s final.

New manager Matthew Twomey has introduced new faces to the side.

Maebh Murphy has featured in defence with Katie O’Mahony, Izzie O’Regan, Cliona Healy, and Down native Sorcha McCartan, who transferred to St Finbarr’s last year, declared for Cork, and is now lining out in attack.

Katriona Mackey, Maebh Cahalane, Laura Hayes, Libby Coppinger, Amy O’Connor Aisling Thompson, and Laura Treacy continue to backbone the side captained by keeper Amy Lee, while Chloe Sigerson’s introduction against Kilkenny proved vital as she nailed the vital long range free that was enough to secured Cork a place in the final.

Cork's Amy O'Connor celebrates her first goal against Limerick in February. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork's Amy O'Connor celebrates her first goal against Limerick in February. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Twomey has also introduced and given some game time to younger players, among them Maebh Ring, Isobel Sheehan, Ciara O’Sullivan, Aoife Hurley, Kate Wall, Cliona Dooley, Emma Murphy, Emma Flanagan, and Olivia McAllen.

Julia White has been named amongst the substitutes through the campaign but has yet to feature.

Cork have been working hard and new coach Davy Fitzgerald has slotted in well and he will no doubt relish a meeting against the All-Ireland champions.

Heather Cooney made a return to the Galway defence for their last league game against Offaly having missed last season because of a cruciate injury and she will be a welcome boost to a strong side that will feature Sarah Dervan, Shauna Healy, Ailish O’Reilly, and Niamh Kilkenny.

With the championship due to begin in May both camps will be anxious to set down a marker, having lost out narrowly the last time the sides met, Cork will relish the opportunity for another crack at the All-Ireland champions.

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