Hurling & Camogie

Niamh Mallon makes an impact off bench but Galway fall short in bid for fourth league title in a row

Tipperary take their first top-flight title since 2006

Niamh Mallon
Portaferry native Niamh Mallon reacts to a missed chance during Galway’s one-point defeat to Tipperary in yesterday’s Division 1A final at Croke Park. Picture: Sportsfile (David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Very Ireland Camogie League Division 1A final

Tipperary 1-13 Galway 0-15

AFTER 44 minutes of this pulsating final at Croke Park yesterday, Galway were in deep trouble, trailing 1-11 to 0-10. Manager Cathal Murray looked to his bench.

First to be sprung was 2022 Player of the Year Niamh Kilkenny. Next up was Niamh Mallon, the former Down captain getting her first taste of action in a Galway jersey.

The Portaferry forward didn’t fail to impress. With her first touch she fired over a point. In the 52nd minute she bagged a second, and three minutes later won a 30-metre free that Carrie Dolan should have scored to level the game.

Instead it was down to Mallon to grab the equalising point, to make it 0-15 to 1-12, although she might well have hit the net to give her side an emphatic lead.

Instead Karen Blair broke on to a loose ball at the other end and the Tipperary defender scored what turned out to be the winning point in the 58th minute.

There was still time for an equaliser, and Mallon won a very late free under the Hogan Stand. Unfortunately Dolan couldn’t convert and Tipperary survived to win their fourth title, and first since 2006.

In the bigger picture it is a good news story for camogie, the first time in a dozen years that one of the major titles has gone to a county other than Galway, Cork or Kilkenny.

Tipperary had fallen 0-8 to 0-2 behind after 20 minutes. The Galway forward line was in excellent form early on, particularly Ailish O’Reilly, who fired three almost identical points from 40 metres under pressure.

With Dolan converting two frees and Aoife O’Donohue and the McGrath sisters also finding the target, Tipperary were in danger.

Eimear McGrath pulled them out of bother, although she had to rely on others winning frees for her. By half-time she had converted five, including a couple from close to halfway. With Karen Kennedy adding two points, Tipperary were just a point shy at the break.

Within a minute of the restart, McGrath had the teams tied at 0-8 apiece. O’Reilly hit back with another outstanding point before Kennedy gave the Premier county a huge lift with a point and then a 38th minute goal.

Although Dolan landed a free from midfield in reply, Tipperary sub Clodagh Quirke and Eimear McGrath strengthened their grip on the game.

Galway looked to the bench and got an answer of sorts with Mallon putting down a Championship marker but she fell just short of being a league winner.

Tipperary E McGrath 0-8f; K Kennedy 1-3; C McCarthy & K Blaire 0-1 each

Galway C Dolan 0-5f; A O’Reilly & N Mallon 0-3 each; A Donohue, S McGrath, O McGrath & N Niland 0-1 each