Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final
Sunday, 9 August 2018
Croke Park @ 4.15pm
Kilkenny vs Cork
For the third year in a row, and fourth time in five seasons, Cork and Kilkenny will fight it out in Croke Park on Sunday, 9 August, to determine this year’s All-Ireland Senior Camogie Champions. ‘Round three’ in this remarkable rivalry is sure to be the most exciting, with one win apiece for each team in the last two finals.
Kilkenny won the first installment back in 2016, and in doing so denied Cork the three-in-a-row. It was the first All-Ireland win for the Cats in 22 years, made all the more special by the fact that manager Ann Downey, was the captain of the last Kilkenny team to win in 1994. The 2016 Champions were lauded for their first-rate teamwork during the entire campaign. This was exemplified by a memorable goal started on their own 45m line and finished by this year’s captain, Shelley Farrell.
The following year, Cork got their revenge and regained the O’Duffy Cup with the legendary Rena Buckley captaining the side. In a tense, low-scoring affair there was little to separate the teams, with 9 points each going into injury time. However, Cork had substitute Julia White to thank for scoring the winning point in the 66th minute to take the title of Champions back to the Rebel County.
This season, the pair once again renewed hostilities when they faced each-other in the National League Final in April. It was Kilkenny who emerged the victors in what was a tight encounter. The Cats winning by the lowest of margins, 15 points to 1-11.
On the road to the final, Cork came through the group stages undefeated, registering an impressive tally of 15-100 over 5 matches. Both Tipperary and Dublin managed to remain in touching distance of the Rebels through the opening exchanges of their respective matches. Cork however, always upped the ante and pulled away from all opponents, a testament to the scoring ability and strength of the team. This was proven again as Cork faced Tipperary for the second time in the semi-final. Tipperary made things very difficult in the first half through honest hard-work. The Rebels however, once again showed their big-match temperament and took over after the break, eventually winning that battle in convincing fashion.
Kilkenny powered through their group matches similarly unscathed and may be the happier of the teams going into the Championship decider. The Cats were made to work hard early in the group stages against a determined Waterford side. While Kilkenny ran out 7 point winners against Galway in the last group game, the early stages indicated a more evenly matched pair. In fact this was borne out in the semi-final, where the Cats faced a more determined and more organised Galway side. Of course, Kilkenny ultimately came through that test winning by 6 points after scoring a crucial goal in the 48th minute.
Despite this, Kilkenny defender Colette Dormer is not concerned with such analysis,. She said “Each match was a battle all the way through. We’ve had tough battles against Waterford, Limerick and Clare as well. So we’ve taken a bit of confidence from each of the games and moved on.”
With such a statement, it’s clear the Cats have their attention focused on one thing and one thing only. Dormer added, “The girls are just looking at the match as a whole and trying to get the best performance on the day. That’s the main thing; we’ve been trying to improve each game we’ve played this year, so hopefully we’ll have a huge performance out of everyone.”
That said, there is no doubt that an experienced side such as Cork will also be as fixated on the final. With the experience of stalwarts such as Ashling Thompson, Orla Cotter and Aoife Murray to name a few, the Rebels will know that past encounters will count for nothing. The winner on Sunday will have to be at their best to bring home the title.
The upcoming third chapter of this pairing promises to be just as intriguing as the previous versions. This really is a rivalry for the history books.