Kilkenny bowed out of the All-Ireland Championship after defeat to Cork by a single point in Croke Park yesterday
It was a repeat of last years decider, Kilkenny took on Cork in GAA HQ in a do or die Quarter Final clash. There was drama even before a ball was thrown in when the game had to be delayed by fifteen minutes after an accident on the Cork to Thurles train line earlier in the morning and the Cork Team had to get a bus and a garda escort to get to Croke Park.
When the action got underway it was a cracker of a game. It had everything: great skill, commitment, determination and above all passion. Kilkenny took an early lead and within ten minutes 0-4 to 0-1. Kilkenny were first to raise a green flag: a long free was driven down towards Hill 16, Denise Gaule put up her hand to catch the sliotar, the ball went over her hand but found Aoife Prendergast waiting and she dispacthed the ball passed a helpless Amy Lee in the Cork Goal.
Cork responded and got the next two points before a second green flag was raised. Corks captain Amy Lee got possession of a ball before taking on the Kilkenny defence to drill a low ball to the back of the Kilkenny net. She gave Aoife Norris no chance in the Kilkenny goal. The teams were now level. Cork had a purple patch and went three points ahead but a Denise Gaule free right on the stroke of half time only left two between the teams 1-6 to 1-8.
Kilkenny started the second half well and a Denise Gaule ’45 reduced the margin to just one. Not long after a third green flag was raised but it was Cork who got the score, a darting run from Saoirse McCarthy saw her shot saved by Aoife Norris, the ball rebounded to a Cork player who hand passed the ball across to Katrina Mackey who rattled the Kilkenny net, Cork followed that up with a point to go five points ahead. It was looking bleak for the All-Ireland champs but Denise Gaule was keeping her team in it. With three minutes left on the clock and five points between the teams Kilkenny struck, Katie Power and Denise Gaule combined to get Kilkenny’s second goal of the day. She followed it up with a free to leave just one between the teams. Kilkenny were looking for a last minute free to force extra time but it didn’t come and the journey for 2023 came to an end. Cork had beaten the kittens in Croke Park by one point again. Final Score Kilkenny 2-13, Cork 2-14
Speaking to KCLR’s Martin Quilty after the game, Dowling said he was heartbroken “We came up here to win, and to lose by a point, I thought we could have had a free at the end to bring it to extra-time but that’s the way it goes, I’m just so proud of them girls in there, they died with their boots on, every-time I’ve been involved that’s what they do. I think the crowd really got behind us in the last few minutes and we drove it on. It looked like the game was dead and buried with five minutes to go but they somehow found a way and we were the ones pushing on and on we just couldn’t get that decisive score, fair play to Cork they deserved the victory in the end”
“Today we were getting the chances, the last couple of weeks we weren’t getting them, we said it at half time we missed some handy scores straight in front of the goal and that’s been happening all year, I cant put my finger on it the girls have been shooting practice every night before training, look its disappointing we missed them chances but Cork missed chances as well, its bitterly disappointing”
At half-time Dowling told his side to be more clinical in front of the post “We left scores behind us in the first half and we had to start taking them scores which we didn’t do which is disappointing, as I said just so proud of them for the way they stayed fighting and fighting, I think Denise Gaule epitomised this team the character she showed, I don’t know how she got in for that goal she had five Cork players behind her. Shes been a huge leader and shes wore that jersey with pride over the number of years out of all those girls”
“I believe in these girls over and over again, once we got the goal it was there for us, there was dropped balls Steffi had a chance to pass to Claire Phelan she took the extra touch on her hand and stuff like that, there was four minutes of injury time I thought it would have been better for us if it had to go on for another little bit, Cork are a super team, Matthew Towmey is a great manager I have great respect for him. We probably got the lucky breaks last year, we thought the game was going away from us and Sophie got the goal that’s sport its cruel when you loose. I said it in the meetings all week and this morning, just stay fighting for as long as you can and that’s all you can ask”
“I take it one year at a time and reassess things with my family and the backroom team, we’ll have to sit down and take a look. Last couple of years I’ve been thinking of walking away but last year the welcome we got at the home-coming I couldn’t walk away but we’ll have to have a serious think over the next few weeks, look I’m there five years now they’re probably sick of listening to me at this stage, look we’ve had great times, I think its our third championship game since 2020 and we’ve lost them all by a point so it shows the consistency that these girls have shown”
Listen back to the postmatch reaction below