Kilkenny have advanced to the Littlewoods Ireland National Camogie League final after a titanic tussle with their neighbours Tipperary at UPMC Nowlan Park on Sunday afternoon.
The opening stages of the game saw both teams match each other point for point as Katie Nolan, Denise Gaule and Aoife Doyle all pointed for the home side, while Cait Devane scored the first three points of the game for Tipp (2 frees).
It was Tipperary who went into the ascendancy after a cagey start as they scored six unanswered points in a sun-drenched UPMC Nowlan Park. Devane, who starred throughout the encounter, added four of those points (2 frees, 2 from play) with the other two scores coming from the impressive Roisin Howard and Nicola Walsh. Tipperary held a substantial 0-03 – 0-09 lead midway through the first half but 2020 Player of the Year Denise Gaule dispatched of a penalty soon after Tipp’s flurry of points to half the deficit.
It was Tipperary who regained control of the game just before half time as Devane and Eimear McGrath added to the Premier County’s tally, leaving them five ahead at the interval, 1-03 – 0-11.
As expected, Kilkenny started the second half with a much higher level of intensity, scoring the opening three points of the half as they looked to be on course to stage a comeback similar to that of last week’s clash with Limerick.
Once again, Tipp responded to Kilkenny’s dominance with a period of pressure of their own, with Grace O’Brien and Sarah Fryday getting on the scoresheet and Eimear McGrath adding another point to move the visitors 1-6 – 0-14 ahead.
Devane and Gaule exchanged two frees each as the All-Ireland champions struggled to get any real foothold against an inspired Tipperary outfit. However, they got the break they so desperately required with a little over ten minutes remaining as a long ball found its way to the net and brought them to within a score of Tipperary.
Cait Devane added her eleventh point of the game to increase the gap to a goal, but Kilkenny equalised almost immediately after Devane’s score as Katie Nolan ruthlessly put the ball past Aine Slaherty to level the game 3-08 – 0-17.
Ereena Fryday restored Tipperary’s lead soon after Nolan’s goal, but it was the Denise Gaule show from then on in as Kilkenny’s ‘go to’ player scored four late points to bring her personal tally to 1-08, sending Kilkenny into Sunday’s league final where they will meet the winner of Cork and Galway in the second semi-final.