Thurles Sarsfields' Karen Kennedy is one of the emerging stars on the Tipperary senior Camogie team. Photo: Inpho
Bill Mullaney’s Tipperary senior Camogie team will launch their All-Ireland championship campaign this weekend against Meath at The Ragg Camogie Grounds on Saturday, June 9th (throw-in 5pm). And, the side captained by Orla O’Dwyer will hope to make a winning start and put the memory of their Munster final experience behind them as fast as possible.
On May 26th defending All-Ireland champions Cork proved far too strong for Tipperary in a one-sided Munster Senior Camogie Championship final played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork (0-6 to 0-19). Tipperary were out-played in that contest, but the positive aspect to the experience is that it will illustrate to Bill Mullaney’s team the level of Camogie excellence required to compete for All-Ireland honours. Another positive from this contest was that Tipperary gave the challenge everything they had. And, that sort of raw grit is worth cherishing irrespective of the circumstances.
The structure of the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship involves two groups. Clare, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny and Waterford feature in group one while Tipperary will compete in group two alongside Cork, Dublin, Offaly, Meath and Wexford.
Following the round robin series of games the top team in each group progress to the semi-finals while the second and third-placed teams compete in the quarter-finals. The quarter-finals are scheduled to take place on August 6th, the semi-finals on August 18th and the final on September 9th.
Following the contest with Meath on June 9th the Premier County are away to Wexford on the week-ending June 24th, home to Cork on the week-ending July 8th, home to Offaly on the week-ending July 15th and away to Dublin on the week-ending July 22nd.
For the Meath game Tipperary will hope to re-discover the form which served them so well in their Munster semi-final win over Limerick on May 5th. A rousing display at The Ragg saw Tipperary surge into the provincial final for the first time since 2015 thanks to an eleven-point win over the defending Munster champions (1-24 to 1-13).
Tipp worked incredibly hard against a well-regarded Limerick team. Indeed, there was a real edge to their tackling and although it led to cautions for Karen Kennedy and Ereena Fryday in the opening half the Premier County set the terms and conditions of the contest right from the first whistle.
The work rate of the half-forward line - Ciardha Maher (Burgess-Duharra), Orla O’Dwyer (Cashel) and Sarah Fryday (Clonoulty-Rossmore) - was especially eye-catching and the determination of this trio had a huge impact on the semi-final contest.
Ereena Fryday (Knockavilla Kickhams) enjoyed a terrific outing in the middle of the field alongside Róisín Cahill (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Grace O’Brien (Nenagh Éire Óg) buried the key goal and Cáit Devane (Clonoulty-Rossmore) was superb, but Casey Hennessy (Clonoulty-Rossmore) absolutely stole the show - the corner-forward belted over six points from play and worked like a woman possessed.
Sarah Quigley (Nenagh Éire Óg) made a composed Munster championship debut in goal while Ciannait Walsh (Éire Óg Annacarty), Gemma Grace (Burgess-Duharra) and Laura Loughnane (Thurles Sarsfields) were solid in the full-back line.
Meanwhile at number six Karen Kennedy (Thurles Sarsfields) is maturing into an outstanding centre-back alongside wing-backs Mary Ryan (Moneygall) and Clodagh Quirke (Clonoulty-Rossmore).
The Tipperary team is managed by Bill Mullaney (Newport-Ballinahinch), Niamh Lillis (Drom & Inch), Cian Treacy (Thurles Sarsfields), Carmel Bradshaw (Ballina) and Aaron Whelahan (Birr, Offaly).
Last season Tipperary exited the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship at the quarter-final stage - the side managed by Brian Boyle ultimately lost to Galway (0-10 to 1-22).
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