(Photo – Littlewoods Ireland)
Galway get another test of their championship credentials when they meet Kilkenny in the National League semi-final. Following an opening day defeat to Cork, Tony O’Donovan’s side have bounced back with wins over Tipperary and Offaly before emerging 2-16 to 4-8 winners over Wexford.
The latter result was achieved thanks to two Ailish O’Reilly goals and 11 points from Rebecca Hennelly. But most importantly, it secured March competitive action as defeat would have left Galway inactive for four months before they entertain Clare in the O’Duffy Cup race.
Kilkenny have prevailed in their last three encounters. You have to go back to the 2015 league semi-final in Tullamore for the last time Galway won in knock out action. Kilkenny were 1-14 to 0-11 winners at this stage last year and they maintained their form in July beating the hosts in Athenry 2-10 to 1-8.
Over the last two years, Cork and Kilkenny have been the dominant forces. Victory will give Galway a massive lift but they must leave this semi-final with a strong performance to convince supporters that they are genuine All-Ireland challengers in the summer.
They showed character against Wexford but they did concede four goals and a similar scenario will see them fall short again. And they are still without their Sarsfields and Athenry contingents. Kilkenny, on the other hand, have no club-tied players and will bring a full deck.
Attackers Katie Power and Denise Gaule plus the versatile Ann Dalton are among the game’s best and they will present a stern test. However, Galway’s team has been very settled and O’Donovan will hope Niamh Kilkenny will be available again after injury.
Sarah Dervan, Heather Cooney and Lorraine Ryan provide experience in defence. Hennelly has top scored in attack with 0-25 in four games; Oranmore/Maree pair O’Reilly (4-3) and Niamh Hanniffy (3-1) are the goal getters with Caitriona Cormican and Aoife Donohue being key contributors.
Kilkenny suffered a shock 1-14 to 1-9 loss to Limerick but they won’t suffer any complacency issues. Slow starts have been Galway’s downfall and that’s something that mustn’t happen Sunday. If they go down but deliver a good performance, they will reaffirm their position as championship challengers.
The venues for Sunday's @LittlewoodsIRL Camogie Leagues Division 1 Semi-Finals are now confirmed. Galway will face Kilkenny in Banagher GAA @ 2pm and Cork will play Limerick in CIT @ 2pm #StyleOfPlay pic.twitter.com/bLevUMcUbY
— Camogie Association (@OfficialCamogie) March 7, 2018