“They don’t just hand it out to you, you have to go out and earn it."
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
For the second year in a row, Kilkenny, Galway, Cork and Tipp are the last four camogie teams standing.
Tipperary manager Bill Mullaney was understandably enthusiastic about the grit illustrated by his team to secure a deserved victory against Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday, and set up a Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final with champions Galway back on Leeside on November 28.
Cáit Devane shot seven points of Tipperary's points overall and Nicole Walsh, airlifted off the field when the teams met last year, struck two crucial scores into the wind in the second half, as the winners always put their noses in front.
Karen Kennedy’s 42nd minute goal was undoubtedly the moment of the game though, as Waterford never looked like threatening a major in the second half, until deep in injury time, when Beth Carton’s shot was splendidly stopped by Áine Slattery.
Crucial injury-time save by Tipp Goalie Aine Slattery from Watergord All Star Beth Carton. pic.twitter.com/JokPOR1YxZ
— Tipperary Camogie (@camogietipp) November 15, 2020
“We always knew it was going to be a battle,” noted Mullaney. “The conditions were just another thing you have to get over. Credit to the girls, they did all the work. They did everything they were asked and more. Played brilliantly, worked really hard and into another Semi-Final.
“We over-analyse some of these things. ‘We need more’, and ‘A wind never wins anything’; GAA can be a lot of cliches as well. We were two points up (at half-time), so we were leading. We knew the second half, like the first half, would be a battle and the girls stepped up and did their jobs and got the result.
“I thought the workrate went up another level to be fair. The girls really lifted it on the field. They were organised. The communication between them all was excellent and the subs that came on were excellent as well, and really added to it, that we could maintain the high intensity and high workrate all over the field.”
There has been a sense all year that Tipperary have improved and feel the time has come for them to get into an All-Ireland Final, having contended Semi-Finals in the last two seasons prior to this. Mullaney gently rebuffed the suggestion.
“Well sure we always did want to go another step,” he said with a smile. “It wasn’t that we’d get to a Semi-Final and stop. ‘Jeez we’ve enough done lads!’ The girls want to get to a Final. They deserve to be in a Final. Over the years, the work they’ve put in and the heartache they’ve suffered as well. No more than Waterford down in their dressing room today. We know what that’s like.
Karen Kennedy receives Player of the Match Award. pic.twitter.com/73FCwTTAOH
— Tipperary Camogie (@camogietipp) November 15, 2020
“They don’t just hand it out to you, you have to go out and earn it. You’ve another match and you don’t have no guarantees there and then you have another match if you want to win it all.
“To get to the top is hard work and you have to earn your way all the way up to it.”
Meanwhile, Waterford manager Fergal O'Brien said he was proud of his team, and wished Tipperary all the best in the semi-finals.
“I’m extremely proud of this group of girls. They have been fantastic all year in their commitment and their effort, and it’s just so disappointing when you don’t get that performance on the field.
“I thought at times we were trying to work goals when we could have taken points. Maybe there was a bit of panic but I wouldn’t fault them. They tried their best and we wish Tipperary good luck in the next stages.”
Having defeated Clare, Cork have set up another mouth-watering clash with old rivals Kilkenny, this time in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final back at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on November 28.
While much of the post-match commentary centred on Clare’s excellence in the first half, and perhaps in conjunction with that, a perceived failure on Cork’s part to hit the right notes, victorious manager Paudie Murray illustrated his satisfaction with how his players performed to lead by 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval.
“The wind was gale force,” Murray pointed out with absolute accuracy. “(A point) up at half-time, you’d take it any day of the week. I thought our first half was very good. We probably should have been up a couple of more scores. But I was very happy with it.
“At half-time we just told them to continue what they were doing because to us, they were playing well. Just keep the tempo high.
“You’re not going to blow any team away in 45 minutes. It’s only in the last 10 minutes that you tend to open teams up, particularly with the four quarters and the weather the way it is.
“I thought our workrate on the inside line was very good today and we managed to get a couple of scores out of that and that part of it I’d be pleased with.”
Katrina Mackey’s goal straight after the resumption, after sniping three vital points into the elements in the opening period was as welcome as any aspect of the game.
“I think she’s coming back to form. Her GPS figures were very good against Galway and it was just about getting the confidence back.
“Katrina has had a lot of injuries over the last 12 months. I could see over the last two or three weeks she was starting to come and it was a massive performance today.”
Eimear Kelly, Áine O’Loughlin, Niamh O’Dea and Chloe Morey all shone for Clare, and Amy Lee had to come up with a big save from Kelly in the second half. But Cork exerted control via the likes of Libby Coppinger, Hannah Looney and Orla Cronin, and Amy O’Connor plundered two late goals to secure the honours for Cork.
Clare manager, Ger O’Connell had cause to be proud of his charges but there was frustration too that they fell away in that closing period.
“Cork took their chances and we just didn’t,” said O’Connell. “That’s the frustrating thing. These hard luck stories, they have to go. The standards we’re trying to set as a group are higher than that.
“Cork are a good team. It will take a good team to beat them but as a Clare Camogie group, we’re setting our standards higher. I’m kind of tired of hearing (about) the last 15 minutes game. We need to finish games as well as we start games.”
“Eimear had a great chance (after Mackey’s goal) and we never got an advantage from that. I don’t know why. She went through, she got pulled… I thought the referee was poor if I’m being honest with you.
“That’s been our year. We need to be that bit more clinical. God I’m sick of those hard luck stories. Take your chances when you have them and that’s what we need to do," he said.