Champions Cork had their grip on the Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 1 title loosened by a mighty Clare effort in Kilmallock but with Orla Cotter putting in an inspirational shift, they showed just enough nous to progress to the final after extra time on a 0-14 to 0-11 scoreline
They will be joined in the decider by Wexford, who chiselled out a victory over Kilkenny. Not for the first time, the Model County women had Ursula Jacob to thank, with the Oulart-The Ballagh woman in trademark accurate form.
Four consecutive points from Eimear O’Sullivan, Briege Corkery, Cotter and Síle Burns propelled Cork to a 0-8 to 0-4 half-time lead.
Cotter stretched the margin to five but Clare dominated the remainder of normal time. Three frees from Claire McMahon reduced the gap to two points with six minutes remaining.
Deirdre Murphy was a constant menace in the Banner attack and she scored a magnificent point from a tight angle to leave one between them, before slotting the equaliser right on the hour.
The sides shared four points in the opening period of extra time but in the second half, Cotter’s sixth point and scores by Fiona Neville and Katrina Mackey’sfirst point sealed their progression to the decider.
It will be a repeat of last year’s final as Jacob’s goal after 90 seconds was the significant moment in the other semi-final, where Wexford came out the right side of a 1-10 to 1-5 scoreline. The sharpshooter provided 1-7 of her side’s tally and had 1-4 on the board as Wexford led by 1-5 to 0-0 after 20 minutes.
Ann Dalton provided Kilkenny with their first score from a 45 in the 26th minute, after Aoife Neary was denied a goal by Mags D’Arcy. Neary did beat the Wexford goalie just before the short whistle though and the Noresiders went in at the break with hope, trailing by just 1-6 to 1-1.
Dalton did convert a couple of frees in the second half, but with Karen Atkinson and Mary Leacy in commanding form through the spine of the Wexford defence, they never looked like getting another goal.
Meanwhile, Limerick will play Kildare in the Division 2 final, after victories over Kilkenny (4-12 to 0-12) and Waterford (0-12 to 0-8).
Kilkenny and Cork will meet in the All-Ireland minor A final. The Kittens continued the impression that they are moving in the right direction at all levels with a narrow 1-13 to 1-12 defeat of Galway in Nenagh.
A third-quarter purple patch was the key for the winners and Lydia Fitzpatrick’s seven points edged her side ahead.
A gritty Cork outfit shaded a tough battle with Tipperary in Kilmallock, 1-10 to 0-10. Orla Cronin was the star of the show for the Rebelettes. The Enniskeane teenager scored seven points, with three of them coming from play.