Cork Make it Back to Back Munster Junior Titles With Victory Over Kingdom
Cork successfully retained the Munster Camogie Junior title when they overcame a tough and spirited Kerry outfit at Cashel GAA on Saturday evening last May 25th. But, not before they were pushed all the way by a Kerry side that appeared in their first All-Ireland last September where they were defeated by Dublin in the Premier Junior Final.
Kerry last claimed the Munster title in 2017 when it took extra time for them to see off Cork by a point. Fast forward a year and it was Cork who took the title with a strong finish and seven points to spare.
A solitary point between the sides with 20 minutes remaining was a reflection of the tenacious battle between two teams who were meeting once again at this juncture of the Munster Camogie Junior Championship.
It was Kerry who got off to a flying start when Julieanne O’Keffee caught a long Jackie Horgan delivery at the edge of the square to blast past Molly Lynch and put her side three clear after just four minutes.
Cork were quick to respond with a brace courtesy of Lucy Wallace and a Christine O’Neill placed ball from the 40 metre line. However, Patrice Diggan pivotal at centre back, pushed her side two clear when she pointed a placed ball against the wind from the middle of the pitch to see Kerry lead 1-01 to 0-02 after 10 minutes.
Sara Murphy restored the three point lead two minutes later when she pointed a 20 metre free, however, Wallace quickly cancelled it out when she fired over from close range to cut the deficit to two.
The Cork rear guard spear headed by Danielle Carroll, Laura Doyle and Aoife O’Neill proved diligent and hardworking and when Lynch was called upon in the Cork goal to pull off a save from a tricky Jessica Fitzell shot on 20 they expertly cleared their lines.
Five minutes lapsed before the next score was registered and it came from Emma Murphy when she fired over to cut the Cork deficit to the slimmest. On 23 captain and Player of the Match Nicole Crean pointed a free to level proceedings and see the score Cork 0-05, Kerry 1-02 which held to half time.
Upon the resumption Fitzell fired over a great point to push Kerry one clear and it took Cork nine minutes to respond when Crean pointed under pressure to level.
An excellent point from Ciara O’Sullivan who was proving lively on the wing all afternoon had Cork ahead for the first time on the 40 mark. With both defences proving hard to permeate it took a Crean 20 metre free which deceived Aoife Fitzgerald in the Kerry goal when it took a deflection into the back of her net to see Cork open up a four point margin 13 from time.
Undeterred, Kerry rallied and when Diggan fired over a close range free the Cork lead was cut to three. However, Kerry were dealt a hammer blow when Crean blasted to the net after a surging run to see the defending champions take a six point lead three minutes from time.
Two Diggan frees in quick succession were drilled goal wards however, the Cork rear guard held firm and cleared their lines before a Crean brace deep in injury time quenched Kerry hopes of pulling a result out of the fire. Cork retained their title on a score line of Cork 2-09, Kerry 1-04.
Cork: M. Lynch Sarsfields, J. Murphy Blarney, D. Carroll Enniskeane (VC), A. O’Neill St. Finbarrs, L. Doyle Charleville, C. O’Neill Courcey Rovers, C. Murphy Carrigaline, C. O’Keeffe St. Vincents, S. Hurley Enniskeane, C. O’Sullivan Newcestown, E. Murphy Glen Rovers, L. Wallace St. Catherines, N. Crean St. Vincents (capt.), L. Coffey St. Vincents, E. Cooney Carrigaline.
Subs: M. Browne Glen Rovers for L. Coffey (25), C. Sexton Barryroe for E. Cooney (33), F. Nelligan Charleville for C. O’Neill (61).
Kerry: A. Fitzgerald, Á. O’Connor, L. Houlihan, M. Costello, R. McCarthy, P. Diggan, A. Behan, L. Collins, E. Ryall, A. Whelan, S. Murphy, B. Horan, J. O’Keeffe, J. Horgan, J. Fitzell.
Subs: C. Walsh for J. O’Keeffe (36), AM. Leen for A. Whelan (44), M. Weir for A. Behan (52), E. Lawlor
for B. Horan (62).
Cork: N. Crean 2-04 (1-02f), L. Wallace 0-02, C. O’Neill 0-01 (0-01f), C. O’Sullivan 0-01, E. Murphy 0-01
Kerry: J. O’Keeffe 1-00, P. Diggan 0-02 (0-02f), S. Murphy 0-01 (0-01f), J. Fitzell 0-01.
Referee: John Lillis, Tipperary.
Picture Credit: Trevor Patchett