Catch 22 for Cork as Tipperary fade away
Camogie All-Ireland Final/ Cork 0-12 Tipperary 0-4: On the surface, an inexperienced Tipp forward line underperformed against a truly intimidating Cork defence at Croke Park yesterday. And something similar happened up the other end of the field, as Tipperary's Philly Fogarty and Una O'Dwyer held the middle with an impressive rigidity.
The difference? In camogie, just like modern hurling, attaining an All Ireland title comes down to the effectiveness of one's half back line.
Tipperary gathered five titles in six attempts between 1999 and 2004 by building a team around Sinéad Nealon, Therese Brophy and Ciara Gaynor. Brophy and Gaynor joined Deirdre Hughes, Noelle Kennedy and Angie McDermott in retirement last winter.
Cork's trio of Rena Buckley, Mary O'Connor and Anna Geary were immense yesterday in front of the 20,685 in attendance. "Anna, Rena and Mary's controlled aggression just ripples throughout the whole team," explained Cork goalkeeper Aoife Murray.
They hit hard. Tipperary waited until a desperate last fling before bypassing this near invincible line with high, speculative balls.
The scoring prowess of Cork forwards Jennifer O'Leary and Una O'Dwyer also made a decisive impact. while the midfield pairing of Gemma O'Connor and Briege Corkery eclipsed their opposite numbers.
The breaks also went their way.
Few fell for Tipperary.
Corkery is a superb player. When Tipp were forced to seek a goal as the clock wound down, she picked off the loose passes, and there were plenty, before setting off on a penetrative run. The female version of Tom Kenny.
Unlike so many other players on the field, she never took too much out of the ball. Draw the cover then offload.
Simple, yet devastating.
Tipperary almost made a contest of it. With 10 minutes remaining and the score 0-9 to 0-3, midfielder Joanne Ryan looped the sliotar into the full forward line.
After some calamity inside, the break fell perfectly for sub Trish O'Halloran but a decent strike cruelly ricocheted off team-mate Geraldine Kinane. The ball scuttled into the path of Emily Hayden but her equally decent shot was blocked by a diving Catriona Foley.
Then, when the 65 dropped in, Hayden fired yet another goal-bound shot that was expertly deflected to safety by Murray. Cork cleared downfield for Una O'Donoghue, and then O'Connor, to tack on the game's deciding scores.
"I don't like to lay blame on anyone," said Tipperary goalkeeper Jovita Delaney. "We win as a team; we go down as a team. People are going to have good days; people are going to have off days, but I suppose our forward line weren't strong enough. Cork's backs were too strong. It tells its own story when you only score four points.
"I can't say the appetite wasn't there to come out and win another AllIreland because it was. Losing five players is crucial to any team, but in fairness to the young players they stepped up and those places were filled."
The contest started with sparks when O'Connor splintered her hurley at the throw-in. Unfortunately, the game settled into a lethargic tempo with just four points in the opening 15 minutes - one of which looked a foot wide. In the sixth minute, Cork's Emer Dillon hit a shot that appeared to drift outside the left upright. The white flag went up - the umpires perhaps fortunate the final was not a closer contest.
O'Leary then relaxed any Cork nerves with a second point, which would have ended up in the net if not for the reflexes of Delaney.
A splatter of quality scores followed from Hayden, Corkery, O'Leary, O'Connor and finally Eimear McDonnell, who ensured just three points separated the sides at half-time.
Tipp bombarded Murray's goal in an attempt to expose the aerial uncertainty of the Cork number one - she conceded a goal from an unforced error in last year's final - but Murray has been not been idle in the last 12 months and she refused to flinch, making some impressive catches.
We braced ourselves for a classic second half, but it never came with Cork easing clear through scores from Rachel Moloney, O'Donoghue and Dillon. Tipperary threatened a revival, although not an ounce of luck bounced their way. Cork made their own to pocket title number 22.
CORK: A Murray; J O'Callaghan (capt), C Foley, A O'Regan; R Buckley, M O'Connor, A Geary; G O'Connor (0-2), B Corkery (0-1); R Moloney (0-1), A Walsh, J O'Leary (0-4, one free); E Dillon (0-2), U O'Donoghue (0-2), E Burke. Subs: S O'Donovan for E Burke (36 mins), O Cotter for A Walsh (48 mins).
TIPPERARY: J Delaney; S Kelly, U O'Dwyer, J Kirwan; M Shortt, P Fogarty, S Nealon; C Grogan, J Ryan (0-1); J Horan, E Hayden (0-2), C Hennessy; E McDonnell (0-1), L Young, G Kinane. Subs: L Bourke for L Young (half-time), T O'Halloran for C Hennessey (44 mins), M Ryan for J Horan (47 mins).
Referee: F McNamara (Clare).