With goals the order of the campaign to date for both sides over the course of the campaign, it would be the points making the difference as John Scott’s side ran out 0-13 to 0-09 winners to reach their first All-Ireland final in five years.
That 2016 final saw Kilkenny’s intermediates lift the Jack McGrath Cup just over an hour before Kilkenny’s seniors did the same with the O’Duffy Cup. Whether Brian Dowling’s senior side will be joining them in Dublin in two weeks time remains to be seen with a stern test against Cork to be played out on Sunday afternoon.
What we do know is that Antrim will line out against Kilkenny in the intermediate final, the Northerners seeing off Galway on Saturday.
Last year’s beaten finalists came out on the right side of a cracking battle with Galway by 2-13 to 1-13 at St Tiernach’s Park.
Goals from Róisín McCormick and Áine McGill inside the first ten minutes gave Antrim a dream start and proved definitive in the end.
The Maroons maintained their composure and two points by Áine Keane either side of a Mairéad Dillon score halved the deficit to three. The response from Paul McKillen and Jim McKernan’s crew was notable though, McCormick, Maeve Kelly and McGill (twice) raising white flags and it was 2-7 to 0-7 at the change of ends.
The Saffrons’ defensive unit excelled in preventing Galway’s Áine Keane and Mairéad Dillon from exerting a greater threat in the danger zone, led by the commanding Niamh Donnelly.
At the other end, they kept the scoreboard ticking over with points from Nicole O’Neill, the brilliant Magill and McCormick, and though Keane, Dillon and sub Tegan Canning responded, and Cathal Murray’s team did manage to shore up their own defence after that horror start, their inability to beat Catrina Graham until Ava Lynskey’s batted finish in the second minute of injury time inhibited any comeback.
Minor A Final
In a game that capped a superb day for camogie in Kilkenny, the Cats’ minors booked their place in the Tesco Ireland A Championship Final with a 3-21 to 1-25 win over Galway in a fixture that required extra time to settle the scores.
Being on the losing side had to be particularly tough on Katie Gilchrist, who scored 1-14 for Galway, but Kilkenny had a greater overall threat and that proved definitive.
Meanwhile, a goal five minutes after the restart by Annabelle Timothy gave Dublin the lead against Cork but points from Orlaith Cahalane and Rose Murphy edged the Rebels back in front and they managed to stay there despite a fantastic effort from the Dubs.
Kilkenny and Cork will meet at the LIT Gaelic Grounds on Sunday next at 5pm.
Can Kilkenny make it three All-Ireland finals this year? The pressure is on tomorrow and we’ll have you covered however you choose from 4pm on Sunday.