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Form favours Kilkenny but Cork bring heft of history to the table for All-Ireland decider – The Irish Times


Glen Dimplex All-Ireland camogie senior championship final: Cork v Kilkenny, Croke Park, Sunday 4.15pm – Live on RTÉ2

It is presumably on the basis that they haven’t lost a game all season that Kilkenny approach the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland camogie final as slight favourites.

Recent history certainly favours Brian Dowling’s side, who only missed out on a league final spot on scoring difference, won the subsequent Leinster championship and have since claimed six wins and a draw in the group and All-Ireland series stages.

There is an argument, too, that with both sides much changed from 2018, when they last encountered each other in an All-Ireland final, Kilkenny are a little further down the track in terms of transition.

Dowling has lost several players even since last season’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Cork – Davina Tobin and Collette Dormer have retired, Meighan Farrell is unavailable and the Doyle sisters are both out injured – but has clearly found reliable alternatives.

Steffi Fitzgerald and Michaela Kenneally were unused substitutes for their last All-Ireland win, just 20 months ago in the December 2020 final, but along with Steffi’s sister, defender Tiffany, are both important figures now. Laura Murphy didn’t start that final either but her 1-1 against Galway last time out was decisive.

Broader historical trends favour Cork though. There is last year’s semi-final win for starters. There’s the one-point wins over Kilkenny in the 2017 and 2018 finals, and they beat Kilkenny in three other finals too since 2009.

They have regrouped well from the loss of key players as well, new manager Matthew Twomey coaxing reigning All Star Hannah Looney back into the mix mid-season after a spell working away, and securing the services of ex-Down player Sorcha McCartan.

Getting Looney back when it appeared that she would be out for the season was a significant coup.

“To lose Pamela Mackey, Linda Collins, Orla Cronin, and then if you’re to lose Hannah too, it would have been insurmountable at some stages I think,” said Twomey.

Paudie Murray has been the man on the Cork sideline for most of the last decade so it will be strange to see Twomey wearing the bainisteoir bib on All-Ireland day. Even stranger will be the sight of Davy Fitzgerald next to him. Not quite an odd couple but an unlikely pairing to be steering Cork within touching distance of a record 29th title.

Like Kilkenny boss Dowling, Twomey stepped up from a previous role in the backroom and has got a sweet tune from his team so far this season.

The only two blots on Cork’s copybook are the National League final loss to Galway back in April and the more recent group loss in the championship to Tipperary.

Cork still topped their group to advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals so the Tipp loss in itself didn’t hurt, though the red card dished out at the end of that game to Ashling Thompson did.

The four-time All-Ireland winner’s drawn out appeal was eventually successful but not until the morning of the Waterford game so may have been partly to blame for the team’s slow start.

Both semi-final winners, as it happens, were forced to come from behind to mine out character-laden wins, Cork four down against the Déise at the interval and Kilkenny two behind Galway.

The suspicion is that Kilkenny’s ruthless efficiency and miserable defence – against Galway, goalkeeper Aoife Norris rejected more approaches than a Temple Bar bouncer – might just stifle the Cork attack. The team’s intensity was off the charts that day.

Presuming they whip up another storm, it will be up to referee Ray Kelly to apply his own interpretation of what is and isn’t a foul. Last year’s final was expertly handled by Liz Dempsey and given how Kelly handled the Cork-Waterford semi-final, he looks like a sensible choice.

The sides drew when they met in the league, Cork nabbing a late leveller. Kilkenny to edge it this time.

CORK: A Lee; M Murphy, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; L Hayes, L Treacy, S McCarthy; H Looney, A Thompson; K Mackey, F Keating, C Sigerson; C Healy, S McCartan, A O’Connor.

Subs: M Lynch, E Murphy, C O’Sullivan, O McAllen, K Wall, K O’Mahony, I O’Regan, O Cahalane, A Egan, M Ring, A Hurley, A Smith, E Flanagan, A O’Neill, H O’Leary

KILKENNY: A Norris; M Teehan, G Walsh, T Fitzgerald; N Deely, C Phelan, L Murphy; S Fitzgerald, K Power; D Gaule, M Kenneally, J Malone; M O’Connell, M Walsh, K Nolan.

Subs: E Kavanagh, A Prendergast, M Bambrick, S Dwyer, C Phelan, A McHardy, S Crowley, L Fennelly, S O’Keeffe, A Curtis, R Breen, C O’Keeffe, L Norris, C Comerford, M Corcoran.

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

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