Cork vs. Tipperary: Semple Stadium, Thurles. Saturday, 18 August 2018
Final Score: Cork 0-21 Tipperary 0-9
The general consensus was that the second Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie semi-final would be a one-sided affair, with All-Ireland champions Cork, taking on a young Tipperary team. The fear was that the free-scoring Cork, who scored an average of 3-20 over the course of 5 Group 2 games, would continue in that vein in this semi-final. However, the Premier County were not willing to subscribe to that narrative and put up a challenge to the holders for much of the match.
Cork had the benefit of the returning Orla Cotter starting, with the added bonus of the experienced dual star Briege Corkery on the bench after having a baby earlier in the year. Sarah Fryday started on the Tipperary team in place of Róisín Cahill.
Cáit Devane opened the scoring with a free for Tipperary after Chloe Sigerson fluffed an earlier chance for Cork. It wasn’t long before Sigerson righted that mistake and the teams were level for the first and last time in the match. Cork went 3 points to 1 ahead through scores from Cotter (1 free and 1 from play), but Tipp kept them in sight with another free from Devane. Cork sought to pull away again through an Amy O’Connor score and another free from Cotter, but again Devane reigned the Rebels in with her third free. Cotter and Devane managed a great point from play, following Ciardha Maher fielding a Tipp puck out which landed straight in front of the full-forward, with the score Cork 6 points to 4 in front. Cork then began to pull away with another point from Sigerson, Katrina Mackey also contributing. Tipperary got the last 2 scores of the half, through a point from Caoimhe Maher which could easily have been a goal if she had managed to hit it slightly lower, and Grace O’Brien’s first score of the match.
Cork went in 3 points up after half time, the score of 9 points to 6, but the play certainly wasn’t going all Corks way. Around the pitch, Tipperary were working hard; the forwards were running and harassing Cork’s backs, not allowing them to run the ball out of defence and causing Gemma O’Connor, Aoife Murray and company to make uncharacteristic errors, one such mistake leading to Tipp’s (and Devane’s) fourth point. Mackey’s point after a probing run through the Tipp defence was a fine example of the threat posed by Cork’s forwards. While the Tipp defence, including Mary Ryan and Karen Kennedy, was managing to repel and pressurise the overlapping runs of Mackey, O’Connor and Sigerson amongst others, it was a sign of things to come.
Tipperary continued with their determined attitude in the early minutes of the first half, maintaining their hard work rate in the forwards. Devane won herself a free directly from a puck out but with the wind picking up in Semple Stadium, her shot dropped just short and was batted out by Murray. Tipp captain Orla O’Dwyer was unlucky not to capitalise on that loose ball. Cork were starting to string a number of passes together, but Karen Kennedy excellently dispossessed Orla Cronin. Again, Tipperary were unlucky not to score after a passage of play where the lost possession and regained it from sheer hard work and determination.
Cork had to wait until the 35th minute for their first score of the second half from Mackey, but that opened the floodgates, and they scored a further 3 in the next 5 minutes, one a remarkable shot from halfway by Sigerson. The Premier County finally registered a score through O’Dwyer after Gemma Grace cut out another Cork attack, and it was 13 points to 7. Cork turned the screw yet again and raised the white flag another 5 times, including 2 points from Linda Collins who came on for Niamh McCarthy. One of those points came when Sigerson shut down a promising Tipperary attack, Cork worked the ball out to Hannah Looney. Looney found corner back Pamela Mackey who had continued her supporting run, and Mackey fired the ball over the bar from about 50m out.
Tipp scored 2 further points from another Devane free and a Sarah Fryday point to bring their tally to 9. However, Cork tacked on 3 more points through Cotter (free), Cronin and sub Lauren Homan to extend their lead in the final moments. The scoreline might not reflect the spirited Tipperary challenge, but Cork certainly dominated the second half in particular and cemented their place in the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final against Kilkenny for the third year in a row.
Photo Credit: Cork Camogie