Kilkenny’s title defence, Galway’s winning run and Cork’s quest to end trophy drought

Kilkenny celebrate their league success in 2021.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. Kilkenny’s hopes to retain crown

Following the conclusion of last year’s Division 1 final, Kilkenny looked set to complete a clean sweep and end the year as All-Ireland champions.

As the reigning holders of the O’Duffy Cup, they had just staged an impressive second-half display to defeat Galway and get their 2021 season off to an ideal start. That was the Cats’ second successive victory over the women from the west after narrowly edging out a tense battle in the 2020 All-Ireland final.

The win was all the more impressive given how they had absorbed a relentless sequence of Galway attacks in the first period. Brian Dowling’s side were being out-paced and out-fought.

But despite Galway’s dominance, there was still just three points between the sides at the break. And Kilkenny made better use of the half-time breather and came out roaring on the restart.

The 2021 championship didn’t go to plan for Kilkenny as they fell short against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final, but retaining their grip on the National League will be a key element of their 2022 reboot.

Kilkenny will face Limerick in their Group 2 opener later today and will have a mouth-watering clash with Cork to gear up for next month.

2. Galway’s winning run

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From being thought of as a distant third in the camogie rankings to capturing two All-Ireland titles in three years, Galway are now the dominant side in the sport.

They wilted in the second half of last year’s league final, but soared to new heights with a complete performance in the All-Ireland decider.

Cathal Murray’s side now find themselves in the same position as the 2021 Kilkenny team, and the key question is whether they can go one better and sustain their winning run through this year’s league and championship?

Galway have been drawn in Group 1 for this year’s league, and have managed to avoid the other Big Two in Kilkenny and Cork.

Their Round 1 tie against Offaly this weekend has been postponed. However, they do have some big ties to face against Dublin and Down later this month before taking on Tipperary in March.

Cork’s Pamela Mackey after last year’s All-Ireland final defeat to Galway.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

3. Cork’s wait for silverware

In most cases, four years would not be considered a long time to wait. But given Cork’s pedigree in camogie, they would probably class it as a famine.

They’re the leading county on the All-Ireland championship roll of honour, with 28 titles tucked away in their locker. Their most recent O’Duffy Cup triumph was in 2018 when they emerged as back-to-back winners.

You have to go back to 2013 to find their last National League title, a two-point win over Wexford. They’ve reached the Division 1 final three times since then but all attempts ended in defeat.

They’re still showing enough quality to reach finals, including last year’s All-Ireland decider, but a team of this calibre needs to put some silverware back on the board.

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There’s been some changes in the Cork camp which will make their 2022 season all the more intriguing to watch. Matthew Twomey took over from Paudie Murray as manager last year, and has drafted in the services of Davy Fitzgerald as part of the backroom team.

Twomey takes up his new role having previously worked in the Cork backroom team and is a highly-rated coach.

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Round 1 Division 1 Fixtures – 5/6 February

Group 1

Saturday, 5 February: Galway v Offaly, Gort – Postponed

Saturday, 5 February: Tipperary v Down, The Ragg, Throw-in, 2pm

Group 2

Saturday, 5 February: Kilkenny v Limerick, John Lockes Callan, 2pm

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