CAMOGIE: Galway vs Kilkenny (Saturday, 5.30pm Semple Stadium) 

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Galway vs Kilkenny camogie
REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Round 4, Nowlan Park, Co. Kilkenny 22/7/2018 Kilkenny vs Galway Kilkenny's Davina Tobin with Niamh Kilkenny of Galway Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Galway’s senior camogie team reach their defining 2018 moment when they face Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final in their biggest game since the 2013 All-Ireland triumph.  They’ve only visited Croke Park once since (2015) and have lost their last two outings at the penultimate stage. 

Kilkenny and Cork have contested the last four national finals and the country has already built up another September showdown.  The general consensus is that Galway are ranked number three but Saturday presents an opportunity to prove they are a ‘Top Three’ rather than outsiders looking in.

Their recent performance against Kilkenny four weeks ago hardly inspires confidence as despite strong starts to both halves, Galway tamely fell in the final quarter in Nowlan Park as the hosts ran out comfortable 1-17 to 0-13 winners.

Galway did attack from the whistle and white made Kilkenny uncomfortable in spells.  That being said, Galway responded in the All-Ireland quarter-final with a professional 0-20 to 0-4 victory over Dublin with full backs Shauna Healy, Sarah Dervan and Tara Kenny delivering a quality display.

Sarah Healy and Heather Cooney are key players either side of the full back line.  Emma Helebert, Lorraine Ryan and Ann Marie Starr will protect the defence allowing Aoife Donohue, Niamh McGrath, Niamh Kilkenny, Rebecca Hennelly, Carrie Dolan, Ailish O’Reilly and Noreen Coen freedom in attack.

The key battle will be Ann Dalton verses Caitriona Cormican and it’s important Galway go for the jugular.  That being said, Ann Downey’s charges have plenty of other options and in attack Katie Power, Denise Gaule, Michelle Quilty and Shelly Farrell are a handful any day.

Niamh Hanniffy remains absent due to her ligament injury but Hennelly is back having missed the quarter-final.  There is no questioning Galway’s ability to cause a surprise but they haven’t got one over Cork or Kilkenny in a knock out match since the 2015 league final.

Galway stormed back into the championship picture in 2008 but after a decade, one can’t escape thinking the end of an era is nigh.  Anyone writing them off should do so with caution.  But Galway will need their best performance in years to ensure a title match in Croke Park on September 9th. 

Verdict: Kilkenny