(after extra time)
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
A goal direct from a sideline cut by Anne Dalton six minutes into the first half of extra time proved the difference as Kilkenny just edged past Galway on a dramafilled day of camogie at Semple Stadium.
Just like the first game of a mouth-watering triple header that also included the All-Ireland hurling semi-final replay involving Waterford and Kilkenny, this needed a supplementary period of 20 minutes for a winner to emerge. Kilkenny supporters will probably feel that they got their just desserts, as they were denied the victory in regulation time by a 73rd minute goal from Ailish O’Reilly.
Galway had been much improved in the second half but it was notable that Kilkenny responded to every body blow positively, and having held the upper hand for the majority of proceedings, will go into the All-Ireland final on September 11 against three-in-a-row chasing Cork at Croke Park with plenty of confidence.
O’Reilly opened the scoring for Galway after just 49 seconds but just 37 seconds later, Shelly Farrell was hand-passing beyond Susan Earner at the other end, after a good run and pass from older sister Anna. Aoife Donohue slotted a couple of points to steady Galway down but Kilkenny kept their noses in front thanks to scores from captain Michelle Quilty and Anna Farrell.
Kilkenny were looking dangerous though and it took the heroics of Susan Earner to deny them a second goal, the netminder stopping a rasper from Shelly Farrell after another Anna Farrell run before somehow getting her hurley out to stop Quilty’s hand pass.
Quilty made no mistake with her next opportunity just a few minutes later, as Anna Farrell and Katie Power combined to send her away. Deadening the sliotar with her hurley, she struck as it bounced back up and the diagonal shot flew to the roof of the net, giving Earner absolutely no chance. That propelled Kilkenny into a 2-7 to 0-9 interval lead but Ollie Bergin clearly revved his charges up during the break as they displayed a much improved intensity after the restart.
Two points from Niamh Mc- Grath and others from Niamh Kilkenny and Molly Dunne brought them to within one but as they would throughout, Ann Downey’s team replied with a brace of points from Denise Gaule and another from Meighan Farrell to stretch the margin to four with a minute left. Galway were resolute however, and they had O’Reilly.
The full-forward pointed to leave a goal between the sides, before pouncing on a breaking ball and smashing a low shot beyond Emma Kavanagh to make it 2-13 to 1-16 and sent us to extra time once more.
Niamh McGrath slotted her seventh point to move Galway ahead but then came the definitive goal, as Dalton’s sideline hopped and squirmed past the previously flawless Earner to nestle in the Galway net.
Gaule punished a couple of Galway indiscretions in the final period and that was enough to get them over the line.