The Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie championship got off to an all-action start and Innovate Wexford Park played host to an absolute humdinger as the home team prevailed in a high-scoring encounter against Limerick by 3-17 to 1-16.
Wexford inflicted most of the damage in the first half and goals from Kate Kelly and Úna Leacy saw them streak into an 11-point lead. Limerick steadied the ship somewhat, with Niamh Mulcahy providing quality leadership, and went in at the break trailing by 2-9 to 0-6.
When Leacy plundered her second goal, there was no way back for the Shannonsiders as they fell 13 points behind but the magnificent Mulcahy showed her class with a goal and a hatful of points that saw the margin reduced to six before Kelly converted a free with the game’s last act.
There were two other Group 1 encounters and champions Cork got their bid for a three-in-a-row under way with a convincing 2-16 to 0-9 defeat of last year’s intermediate victors Waterford at Walsh Park.
The Déise girls were extremely competitive in the opening period and thanks to six points from Trish Jackman, trailed by just four at the interval, 1-8 to 0-7.
Jackman actually landed the game’s first two scores from prodigious distances but Cork gradually settled into proceedings and a goal from Briege Corkery, along with five points from Orla Cotter gave them the edge.
Cotter continued to find the target in the second half, while skipper Ashling Thompson thundered into the fray. Cotter found the Waterford net in fortuitous circumstances from a long range free to remove any doubt and finished with an individual tally of a goal and eight points as the Leesiders registered a settling win.
In Sixmilebridge, Clare found Offaly too strong for them. A Tina Hannon goal after 12 minutes, followed by points from Lorraine Keenan and Arlene Watkins pushed the visitors clear and though Chloe Morey stopped the rot momentarily from a free, a hat-trick of points by Watkins helped establish a 1-12 to 0-5 interval advantage.
Michaela Morkan and Cailin Fitzgerald were among the scorers as Offaly moved inexorably towards the win. Clare showed plenty character with a Morey goal from a free and an Aoife Keane point to cut the deficit to five but they were a clear second best as it finished 1-16 to 1-11.
As expected, league finalists Galway were pushed very hard by a resurgent Tipperary and after Jenny Grace brought Brian Boyle’s crew to within a point of the westerners with six minutes of normal time remaining, it needed points from Aoife Donoghue and Niamh McGrath to see them home on a 1-13 to 1-10 scoreline.
It was 1-7 to 1-6 at half time. Both goals came late in the opening period, with Noreen Coen on the mark for Galway 19 minutes in and Orla O’Dwyer replying two minutes into added time.
The second half had a similar pattern to the first with Galway just keeping their noses in front but never managing to shake Tipperary off and the result was in doubt right up to the final whistle.
Kilkenny defeated Galway in the league decider and they were resounding victors against Derry in Swatragh by 5-24 to 2-3. Sarah Ann Quinlan, Denise Gaule, Miriam Walsh (two) and Katie Power were the goal scorers for the Noresiders, while Aoife Shaw and Kate McAnenly raised green flags for the Oak Leafers.