Kilkenny’s pedigree makes a difference as they teach Dublin a hard lesson – The Irish Times

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Kilkenny 2-24 Dublin1-11

Kilkenny’s high-flying pedigree shone as they responded to Dublin’s excellent start in ruthless fashion, coming into half-time leading by nine points after trailing by four, and coming clear for a convincing victory in the quarterfinals of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie in Thurles.

The Cats have lost a lot of elite players this year, but the work-rate that has been at the heart of everything they’ve done well over the past decade, including winning All-Ireland in 2020, was here to see it all. They forced Dublin to make more and more mistakes as the game progressed and are therefore back in the semi-finals, where they will reconnect with current champions Galway.

Dublin fought well in the second half and the potential they possess is evident, especially given the progress already made and the experience operating at this level behind them.

Former All-Star Aisling Maher excelled at set balls, Hannah Hegarty battled through the heart of defense and there were glimpses of the pixie dust that Leaving Cert student Aisling O’Neill possesses, although that unfortunately Dublin could not involve him sufficiently.

But cracks in their attempts to work the ball out of defense appeared as Kilkenny pressed them, such as Katie Nolan and Julieanne Malone among the whirling dervishes causing mayhem.

The former trusted players were there too, Claire Phelan majestic as a defender plus one with her fantastic reading of the game, Katie Power reveling in the freedom of midfield, Denise Gaule striking 1-8 in the first half, even if her radar strayed a bit in the second, and Miriam Walsh at her unleashed best.

And that was more than enough.

It didn’t look like a 14-point game in the first quarter. Gaule converted two early frees, the first after a Hawk-Eye service interference from Willie Barrett, but Maher responded with two of his own.

Walsh and O’Neill traded game points before Niamh Gannon netted an outstanding goal in the 13th minute.

Elyse Jamieson Murphy took possession of the ball in the middle and fed Emma Flanagan, who in turn sent Gannon on his way. Naomh Jude’s centre-forward entered the space left cleverly vacated by O’Neill and provided the definitive finish the move demanded.

Dublin were four points clear and confidence was growing, but Kilkenny extinguished hope without a fuss, scoring one goal and 10 unanswered points.

What was remarkable was that they didn’t go for the rapier strike immediately, going for the kill by a thousand blows, or eight points at a trot to be precise. Gaul took part in five of them, while Malone, Walsh and Mary O’Connell also crossed the posts.

The goal came from a 24th-minute penalty, Gaul repeating their exploits from the All-Ireland final two years ago after a foul on Walsh.

It was 1-16 to 1-5 at the break and although the goal rate slowed down a bit in the second half, as the intensity inevitably waned and both teams emptied their benches, it was Kilkenny who carried always the most threat.

Walsh grabbed her goal in the 40th minute, after crossing oceans of space and being found by a ground pass from Gaul.

Gannon, Maher and O’Neill raised white flags for Dublin, although it was something they never symbolically did. It was just that Kilkenny had too much power and firepower, with O’Connell, Nolan, Gaul and Sophie Dwyer providing a ride to the finish line.

KILKENNY: A Norris; M Teehan, G Walsh, M Bambrick (0-1); T Fitzgerald, C Phelan, L Murphy (0-1); S Fitzgerald, K Power (0-1); J Malone (0-1), M O’Connell (0-2), M Kenneally (0-1); M Walsh (1-3), D Gaule (1-10, 1-0 pen, 10 free), K Nolan (0-3).

Subtitles: N Deely for Teehan (44 min), A Prendergast for Bambrick (47), S Crowley (0-1) for Malone, A McHardy for O’Connell (both 55).

DUBLIN: E Mooney; M Kelleher, C Buchanan, E O’Brien; R Baker, H Hegarty, E O’Brien; A Maher (0-9, eight francs), G Couch; E Flanagan, N Gannon (1-1), J Couch; E Jamieson Murphy, A O’Neill (0-1, free), A Twomey.

Subtitles: K Finnegan for Twomey (37 min), L Butler for Flanagan (42).

Arbitrator: Justin Heffernan (Wexford).

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