The belief that this might be the toughest Liberty Insurance Senior Camogie Championship in many years was given credence in the first round as Kilkenny emerged from Athenry with a 1-10 to 1-8 win over Galway.
The Noresiders laid the groundwork for victory in the first half, when they held their opponents scoreless, while scoring six points.
The excellent Shelley Farrell provided three of those from play and Farrell had a key role in placing pressure on the Galway defence before Denise Gaule pounced for goal just two minutes after the resumption.
That put Kilkenny in a very strong position and though Galway did battle well, with Ann Marie Hayes scoring a goal at the end of the third quarter, Kilkenny had enough in hand to carve out a deserved win.
Offaly made light work of a very disappointing Dublin in Crumlin, cruising to a 3-13 to 0-5 success. Just a point separated the sides in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final and Dublin certainly had enough possession in the first half.
They shot nine wides in that period however, and never recovered from the double-whammy of goals from Aoife Kelly and Ann-Marie Guinan within a minute of each other towards the end of the first half.
That gave Offaly a 2-2 to 0-4 lead and Aidan Franks’ crew used the wind to stretch clear in the latter period, Elaine Dermody finishing with 1-8.
Derry made history by playing senior championship for the first time and they recovered from a very nervous start to give an excellent account of themselves in the second half. They were unable to deny Clare however, coming out the wrong side of a 3-11 to 1-6 scoreline.
Karen Kielt was brilliant for the Oak Leafers, contributing 1-5, but Clare had a greater depth of supply. Deirdre Murphy stood out with 1-2, while Lisa Loughnane’s second-half brace ensured that the Bannerwomen maintained the upper hand.
A youthful Tipperary put up a good fight in the first half against Cork but they had no answer to the pace and power of the league champions in the second half.
Jenny O’Leary was magnificent for Paudie Murray’s charges throughout and her 48th minute goal finally ended the resistance of outstanding Tipperary goalie, Rita Burke.
Last year’s captain, Julia White came off the bench to score 1-2, with the major coming in injury time. Noreen Flanagan struck the net for Tipp, with Nicole Walsh hitting all her side’s points in the 2-15 to 1-5 outcome.