Kilkenny 1-18; Galway 1-15
Kilkenny stormed back from another poor first-half performance, rocking Galway with a goal and five points straight after half-time to win the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 title.
The game was a humdinger that and it was Kilkenny that found another gear when the chips were down.
Even in the dying minutes, after Galway had recovered from the shock of that third quarter shellacking to draw level in the first minute of injury time, their rivals responded immediately through a super Steffi Fitzgerald score.
Further points from a Denise Gaule free and Mary O’Connell left the Cats three ahead at the final whistle.
Galway started with Aoife Donohue in the full-forward line and the Westerners were keen to run at a Kilkenny defence that had been troubled by Limerick and Tipperary in quarter- and semi-finals.
Galway had the better of the opening exchanges as Carrie Dolan shot the first of her seven first-half points early on.
Katie Nolan and Grace Walsh, following a pass from Miriam Walsh edged Brian Dowling’s Kilkenny in front.
CAUSING CONCERN WITH DIRECT RUNNING
Donohue levelled after a Niamh Kilkenny run but two more Dolan scores, including one from play, either side of Nolan’s second point had Galway in front 0-4 to 0-3 at the first water break.
Sarah Spellman and Catherine Finnerty were exerting a greater influence in the Galway attack and while Siobhán McGrath wasn’t on the score sheet, she was causing concern with her direct running.
A number of Galway frees came from such forays and Dolan put the majority of them over.
MEIGHAN FARRELL GOT BRILLIANT HOOK ON DOLAN
Denise Gaule brought the sides back to parity but it was Galway on top for the last 10 minutes of the half, Niamh McGrath raising a white flag and Dolan adding to her tally with three points to put four between the teams.
It could have been even better for Cathal Murray’s girls but Meighan Farrell got a brilliant hook on Dolan to force a mis-hit shot that was deflected away by Kilkenny goalkeeper Aoife Norris, four minutes from the break.
Aoife Doyle pointed from a nigh impossible angle for Kilkenny to leave it 0-9 to 0-6 at the break.
Not for the first time, they resumed in blistering fashion, and while they were aided by a strengthening wind, there was a considerable step up in application and intent.
Kilkenny turned that three-point deficit into a five-point advantage. O’Connell shot her first point but it was Aoife Doyle’s sensational score that provided the real lift as she picked the sliotar up on the ‘40 and drove forward with before blasting an unstoppable shot to the net.
GOOD WORK BY MIRIAM WALSH
She scored a point soon after, after good work by Miriam Walsh; Gaule added another from outside the ‘65 and when Michaela Kenneally and O’Connell did the business, it was 1-11 to 0-9.
Galway refused to quit and Niamh Kilkenny led the resistance, her brilliant 40th minute goal ensuring an exciting finale.
The Tribeswomen kept chipping away at the deficit and it was Donohue who brought the teams level.
Kilkenny won the next ball however, Fitzgerald fetched and drove over brilliantly and the Cats built on that to claim silverware.
Kilkenny scorers: D Gaule 0-6 (5fs); A Doyle 1-2; K Nolan, M O’Connell 0-3; G Walsh, N Deely, M Kenneally, S Fitzgerald 0-1 each
Galway scorers: C Dolan 0-10 (8fs); N Kilkenny 1-1; A Donohue 0-2; N McGrath, S McGrath 0-1 each
Galway: Sarah Healy, T Kenny, S Dervan, Shauna Healy, S Gardiner, E Helebert, R Black, N McGrath, N Kilkenny, C Dolan, C Finnerty, S Spellman, A O’Reilly, A Donohoe, S McGrath.
Subs: D Higgins for Kenny (37), C Cormican for Helebert (42), A M Starr for Finnerty (46), N Hanniffy for O’Reilly (54)
Kilkenny: A Norris, C Dormer, D Tobin, M Teehan, K Doyle, M Farrell, G Walsh, A Prendergast, N Deely, D Gaule, M Kenneally, M O’Connell, A Doyle, M Walsh, K Nolan.
Subs: L Murphy for Prendergast (37), S Fitzgerald for M Walsh (48), K Power for Kenneally (51), M Bambrick for K Doyle (59)
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford)