‘The girls really upped the ante in the second half… We showed huge character there’

KILKENNY CAMOGIE BOSS Brian Dowling has hailed the effort of his side after their comeback victory over Galway to become Division 1 champions for 2021.

The victorious Kilkenny team.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Cats rallied from three points down at half-time and rattled off an impressive 1-5 without reply after the restart to pave the way for victory at Croke Park.

A second consecutive decider win over their rivals from the West puts Kilkenny in a strong position as they prepare to turn their attentions to their All-Ireland defence.

“The girls really upped the ante in the second half, especially the first 10 minutes after half-time,” a delighted Dowling said after the full-time whistle.

 ”We showed huge character there, Galway scored a goal and probably could have pushed on. But we got a score back which is great. Look, it was tough at the end. It could have gone either way and I thought it might be heading for extra-time at one stage.

“I suppose we were fouling a lot in the first half and we wanted to cut that down as well, and wanted to run at Galway a bit more in the second half and I think we did that, and caused them problems.”

“Look, we’re delighted to get over the line and any time you win up here is great.”

This fixture was earmarked as a pilot event for the gradual return of fans to live sport which permitted 3,000 spectators to attend the Croke Park showpiece. After clinching their All-Ireland crown at an empty stadium against the same opposition back in December, Dowling said having fans back in the stands was a reliving sight.

There was some debate around the late throw-in time for the game during the week. It was revealed that the 7.30pm start was selected to ensure the camogie final would have a slot on RTÉ’s programme schedule around the coverage of the Euros.

Dowling was quoted as labelling the decision as “very strange” and “very difficult” on players who have work commitments tomorrow, but has since suggested that he may have been misquoted.

Brian Dowling.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Ah look, I don’t know if I was misquoted during the week. People were saying I was giving out about it. But it was just a bit surprising. Some of the girls have to work tomorrow. I’m ok, I’m a teacher [so] I can have the morning off. But to get to play in Croke Park is unbelievable and thanks to the GAA and to camogie for allowing that.

“I’ve been involved in two league finals now and both have been here. That’s brilliant. This is a stadium, this is where the games should be. And to get to play up here in a league final, ok, it was on late in the evening. But we’d play here any time. I said last year [that] we’d play on Christmas Day if we had to.

“To get to play up here makes it extra special when you get over the line.”

Dowling also pointed to the impact of Kilkenny’s bench in deciding the outcome of the tie. Steffi Fitzgerald landed a super point from distance shortly after her introduction in the second half, while Katie Power brought smiles to Kilkenny faces as she made her entrance on 50 minutes.

Power missed last year’s campaign after suffering a broken knee cap for the second time in her career. 

“It’s brilliant to get Katie Power back on the pitch,” Dowling said of the Piltown forward who has struggled with injuries in recent years.

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“I suppose we hadn’t planned for it but she went very well in a challenge game last Sunday with the intermediates and Tuesday night at training.

“We said we’d get her on for 10 minutes no matter what way the game is going. Katie has been through absolute hardship the last two years with injuries. I don’t think people would believe you if you explained what was going on.

“Just the work she’s after putting in, and we just wanted to get her back on this pitch. She had a positive impact which was brilliant.

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“We’ll get another four weeks [of] tough training into Katie and hopefully she’ll be ready for championship.

“This time last year, she was in the stand and she was crying. She found it very tough to watch the girls winning. Just to get her back on the pitch and get 12 or 15 minutes into her is great.”

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