Experience is a key ingredient in any championship and so it proved at sun splashed O’Garney Park in Sixmilebridge this Saturday afternoon where reigning champions Kilkenny got their All-Ireland senior camogie championship campaign off to a winning start.
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge
For much of this tie Clare matched their hotly fancied opponents but the experience Kilkenny have gained in both league and championship in recent years kicked in at crucial stages of the tie.
The sides traded points twice n the opening minutes before the visitors landed five in a row, four from their top scorer Denise Gaule, to open a lead they would hold throughout..
Those five points put them 0-7 to 0-2 clear at the first water break and that lead could have been greater but Clare goalkeeper Doineann Murphy had made an impressive save from Michaela Kenneally in the sixth minute when a goal looked the likely outcome.
It was 0-12 to 0-8 in the winner’s favour at the half time break, Clare having benefited from the switch of Chloe Morey outfield from full forward in the closing minutes of the half.
Orlaith Duggan had excelled for Clare at midfield in that opening half but shortly before the break she picked up a knock to the leg which limited her mobility in the second period,
Each side added three points in the opening ten minutes of the second half but Kilkenny then hit three in a row and they led 0-18 to 0-11 at the second water break.
When play resumed they landed two more points but from here to the finish the home side held the edge and outscored their opponents 0-5 to 0-2.
They could well have closed the gap further but Kilkenny goalkeeper Emma Kavanagh made two outstanding saves in the closing period to deny Clare goals.
The switch of Niamh O’Dea to the attack for the closing period put a lot of pressure on the title holders as the dual star caused huge problems for them when she raced through the middle on a couple of occasions.
Kilkenny played the closing ten minutes with fourteen players after full back Claire Phelan was dismissed on a second yellow card. Meaghan Farrell, Emma Kavanagh, Katie Nolan, Katie Power and the outstanding Denise Gaule were prominent throughout for the winners.
Claire Hehir, Niamh O’Dea, Orlaith Duggan and the game’s top scorer Chloe Morey impressed for Clare who travel to play Galway in round 2 next week
Scorers Kilkenny: Denise Gaul (0-10, 7 frees); Katie Nolan (0-4), Katie Power, Miriam Walsh (0-2) each; Laura Murphy, Mary O’Connell, Steffi Fitzgerald, Aoife Prendergast (0-1) each.
Scorers Clare: Chloe Morey (0-11, 7 frees, 2 ‘45’s) Orlaith Duggan (0-2), Niamh O’Dea, Rebecca Foley Aine O’Loughlin (0-1) each
16: Emma Kavanagh (Rower Instioge)
2: Michelle Teehan (James Stephens)
3: Claire Phelan (Lisdowney)
4: Davina Tobin (Emeralds)
17: Laura Murphy (O’Loughlin Gaels)
6: Meaghan Farrell (Thomastown) (Capt)
7: Mirian Bambrick (Barrow Rangers)
8: Niamh Deely (James Stephens)
9: Grace Walsh (Tullaroan)
10: Denise Gaule (Windgap)
11: Mary O’Connell (Clara)
12: Michaela Kenneally (Windgap)
13: Katie Nolan (St Martin’s)
14: Miriam Walsh (Tullaroan)
18: Steffi Fitzgerald (Young Irelands)
19: Katie Power (Piltown) for Kenneally (38)
5: Kellyann Doyle (Piltown) for Murphy (49)
22: Laura Norris (Piltown) for Fitzgerald (58)
1: Doireann Murphy (Clarecastle)
2: Susan Daly (Scariff/Ogonnelloe),
3: Clare Hehir (Inagh-Kilnamona) Captain,
4: Ciara Grogan (Clooney-Quin)
5: Alannah Ryan (Kilkishen),
6: Niamh O’Dea (Kilmaley),
7: Sinead Conlon (Tulla);
8: Orlaith Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
9: Zi Yan Sillane (Feakle/Killanena)
10: Aoife Keane (Inagh-Kilnamona)
11: Aine O’Loughlin (Truagh/Clonlara)
12: Rebecca Foley (Truagh/Clonlara)
13: Eimear Kelly (Truagh/Clonlara)
14: Chloe Morey (Sixmiebridge)
15: Robyn Conway (Feakle/Killanena)
17: Laura McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Conlon (24)
18: Maire McGrath (Sixmilebridge) for O’Loughlin (38)
26: Siofra Nc Chonnail (St. Josephs Doora/Barefield) for Spillane (41)
23: Bridin Dinan (Tulla) for Conway (49)
19: Roisin McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Daly51)
Referee; Andrew Larkin (Cork);