Hurling & Camogie

Down do enough in Kerry to keep top-flight status

A draw with the Kingdom keeps the Mourne county in Division One

Ciara Fitzsimons
Ciara Fitzsimons Ciara Fitsimons provided the scores that ultimately preserved Down’s Division One status in the draw with Kerry (Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Very Ireland Camogie League round five

Division 1B

Kerry 2-8 Down 0-14

Dublin 0-16 Antrim 0-9

Limerick 3-11 Wexford 1-15

HAD Down come away from Mountcollins without their Division 1B status intact for another season, it would have been a travesty as they made all the running in the game and had a very late chance to win it, but Ciara Fitzsimons’ free pulled wide in the 63rd minute.

Fitzsimons, however, was excellent from her other frees that included five of the first six scores that gave Down a deserved lead in the first quarter.

There was a goal chance for Kerry midway through the half, but Aoife Sherry was quickly off her line to smother the shot from Laura Collins.

Kerry did manage to get their goal, however, after 22 minutes when a free from Ellen O’Donoghue dropped short and Emma Conway drilled the sliotar to the net. That score lifted Kerry and they drew level at 0-8 to 1-5 at the break.

Although Caoimhe Spillane edged Kerry into the lead for the first time with a point in the 36th minute, Down hit the next four scores through Fitzsimons (two), Niamh McGrath and Clara Cowan to go 0-12 to 1-6 up.

The second Kerry goal came in the 45th minute when Sarah Murphy found Emma Conway in space. Conway cut it and went for goal. However, Sherry once again brought off a brilliant save only for Spillane to bounce on the re-bound and bring the teams level.

Sub Aoife McDowell edged Down ahead only for points from O’Donoghue (free) and Kate Lynch to put the home team ahead for just the second time in the game.

Fitzsimons, however, levelled and had that other late free to claim a victory they would have deserved.

Nevertheless the draw was enough to see them secure Division One status for 2025

Antrim looked in with a great chance of getting something from their game against Dublin in Crumlin when they trailed by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time.

They were turning around to play with the aid of a slight breeze, but Dublin stepped up a gear in the early minutes of the second half with three points from Grace O’Shea and were comfortable winners.

Róisín McCormick accounted for seven of Antrim’s nine points and they scored just once from play in each half.

Again Cáitríona Graham had a good hour in goals and the defence did pretty well despite full-back Caoimhe Conlon having to retire after a quarter of an hour with a thumb injury. Claire McKillop, Megan McGarry, Fionnuala Kelly and McCormick were probably the pick of the outfield players.

McCormick scored five frees in the opening half, but at the other end Aisling O’Neill was on fire with four points from play and that was matched by Aisling Maher’s free-taking.

Those three points from O’Shea in the 10 minutes after half time secured the win for the Dubs with Áine Rafter coming off the bench for the second week in a row to notch a point.

Wexford, who were already qualified for the league final on April 13, fielded an experimental team against Limerick. However, when Chloe Foxe pointed in the 52nd minute, they looked on their way to a fifth successive victory.

Caoimhe Costello stepped up to spoil the party. She buried a penalty four minutes later to tie the teams on 3-9 to 1-15 and then pointed two frees in injury-time to steal a victory for Limerick that puts them ahead of Antrim in third place in the table on scoring difference.

When Sal Doyle scored the Wexford goal 17 minutes into the game, they led by 1-9 to 0-2. Costello got a lucky goal from a long-range free a minute later and then right on half-time, Lizanne Boylan grabbed a second Limerick goal from to leave it 1-11 to 2-5 at the break. That goal difference remained until the late scoring blitz from Costello.

Division 1A

Galway 0-14 Cork 0-9

Waterford 0-13 Kilkenny 2-10

Clare 0-7 Tipperary 4-19

IT’S 15 years since Tipperary last contested a national senior final. That wait is over because they will meet Galway in the Very Camogie League Division 1A decider at Croke Park on April 14.

They gained their place in the decider with an emphatic 4-19 to 0-7 win over Clare at Cusack Park Ennis, while three-in-a-row-chasing Galway ground out a five-point win over All-Ireland champions Cork in Ballinasloe.

First-half goals from Grace O’Brien and Karen Kennedy gave Tipperary a commanding 2-8 to 0-3 lead at the half-way point, while Eimear Heffernan and O’Brien again goaled after the break.

The result confirmed Clare’s relegation to Division 1B.

Losses to Tipperary meant that Galway and Cork were essentially in a winner-takes-all clash, although a draw would have been sufficient for last year’s champions.

Galway led from the fifth minute until the end with Carrie Dolan’s frees doing a lot to thwart Cork’s effort. Dolan pointed four frees before the break on her way to a personal tally of 10 points, nine of which came from dead balls.

It was 0-8 to 0-5 at the interval and although Clíona Healy and O’Connor raised white flags in the third quarter for Cork, points from Dolan, Aoife Donohue and Orlaith McGrath stretched the gap.

The key play during the game was in the 44th minute when Fiona Ryan saved from Sorcha McCartan. Had the former Down player’s shot hit the net, Cork would have been in the lead. Instead Galway finished strongly with three points, including two from Dolan.

Meanwhile, the south-east derby was won by Kilkenny, who outgunned Waterford by 2-10 to 0-13 in an entertaining tie at the SETU Arena.

Four points from Beth Carton gave the Déise a two-point lead approaching half-time but a goal just before the short whistle from teenager Caoimhe Keher-Murtagh was a vital score and Kilkenny always had their noses in front from that juncture.