Cork v Galway: Experience could be a key factor in intermediate final

Mary Newman previews today's All-Ireland final at Croke Park
Cork v Galway: Experience could be a key factor in intermediate final

Cork’s Grainne Hannon keeps her eyes on the sliotar. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

SUNDAY: Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate final: Cork v Galway, Croke Park, 2pm.

IT’S Cork and Galway battling for the Glen Dimplex Intermediate crown; they meet in the second game of a triple-header in Croke Park on Sunday.

It comes as no surprise that these are the last two standing, though when they met in the Littlewoods League quarter-final Cork ran out 1-13 to 0-10 winners.

That will count for little with the big prize up for grabs on Sunday.

Cork last took the title in 2018 and survivors from that glorious day when it was a Rebel double include Lauren Callanan, Siobhan Hutchinson, Roisin Killeen, and Kaitlin Hickey while captain Finola Neville, who is unable to line out due to a knee injury, was also a key figure then.

The victory four years ago ended heartbreak for Cork who had suffered back-to-back final defeats in 2016 and 2017.

Galway last tasted success at intermediate level in 2013 on a day when they also won the double as their senior overcame Kilkenny. They have been back on the big stage since then, surprisingly losing out in the 2019 final to Westmeath.

With Cathal Murray at the helm of both the senior and intermediate teams since 2019, camogie in the county has enjoyed a huge profile.

The foundations were laid with the All-Ireland minor successes in 2012 and 2017 and four in a row of U16 wins from 2015 to 2018.

Add in the quality of club teams such as Sarsfields and Killamore and it’s not hard to see the desire and passion they have for camogie.

Underage stars like Teegan Canning, Katie Gilchrist, current minor player Ally Heslin, who lined out at midfield in their semi-final clash with Meath, and Olwen Rabbitte, who played at corner-forward and scored a vital goal, will all be ones to watch.

They were the dominant force of the group stages as they racked up big scorers while in defence they have been rock solid all through. They got off the mark with a 0-20 to 0-12 win over Laois before hitting 5-22 against a Carlow side that they held to just seven points.

Westmeath provided a strong challenge, but they showed plenty of character to run out on -15 to 0-11 winners, they racked up an impressive 3-23 against Dublin before hitting Kerry with 2-17 as they confidently topped the group and booked their semi-final spot.

They got more than they bargained for against Meath and it took substitute Laura Kelly’s late goal to finally seal it.

Cork have had a nice steady path to the final, only losing one game in the group series to Derry. They overcame Wexford, Meath, and Kilkenny to top their group and secure a semi-final spot where they once again came face to face with Derry who had recorded a quarter-final win over Dublin.

Cork's Kate Kilcommins and Derry's Aine McAllister on the move in the All-Ireland semi-final. Picture: Patrick Browne
Cork's Kate Kilcommins and Derry's Aine McAllister on the move in the All-Ireland semi-final. Picture: Patrick Browne

It was a tough encounter that went right down to the wire and Cork had to dig deep to make it to the final. It took a pointed free three minutes into added time from scorer-in-chief Joanne Casey to secure the win.

Cork know they got out of jail in a game that Derry dominated for long periods.

If Cork allow Galway get to grips early ion the game, as it happened against Derry, they will be in trouble.

Against Derry, Cork went short on several occasions and didn’t pump ball into their inside line, particularly in the second half when they played with the aid of a strong wind.

They also sat back and didn’t attack and it wasn’t until the last 10 minutes when they pushed forward that they really troubled Derry, outscoring them 0-8 to 0-3.

Cork have a lot of experience.

Leanne O’Sullivan is the holder of four senior All-Ireland medals and has huge experience playing in Croke Park, Joanne Casey and Lauren Homan are both senior medal holders; Casey coming on as a sub in 2014 with Homan introduced in the 2017 and 2018 wins.

Experience at this level will be vital with a lot of players on both sides lining out in Croke Park for the first time it could be the key factor in tipping the balance.

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