Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final: Cork v Kilkenny, Croke Park, Sunday 4.15pm – Live on RTÉ2

It’s presumably on the basis that they haven’t lost a game all season that Kilkenny go into the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland camogie final as slight favourites.

Recent history certainly favors Brian Dowling’s side, who only missed out on a place in the league final on score difference, won the following Leinster Championship and have since won six and drawn one in the group stages and the All-Ireland series.

There is also an argument that the two teams have changed a lot since 2018, when they last met in an All-Ireland final, Kilkenny is a bit further down the track in terms of transition.

Dowling has lost several players even since All-Ireland’s semi-final loss to Cork last season – Davina Tobin and Collette Dormer have retired, Meighan Farrell is unavailable and the Doyle sisters are both injured – but has clearly found reliable alternatives.

Steffi Fitzgerald and Michaela Kenneally were unused substitutes for their last All-Ireland win just 20 months ago in the December 2020 final, but along with Steffi’s sister, defender Tiffany, are now two big figures. Laura Murphy didn’t start this final either but her 1-1 against Galway last time out was decisive.

Broader historical trends, however, favor Cork. There’s last year’s semi-final win for rookies. There are the one-point wins over Kilkenny in the 2017 and 2018 finals, and they have also beaten Kilkenny in three other finals since 2009.

They have also regrouped well after the loss of key players, with new manager Matthew Twomey urging All Star Hannah Looney to return to the mix mid-season after a spell of work and secure the services of the ex-player. by Down Sorcha McCartan.

Getting Looney back when it appeared she would be out for the season was a major coup.

“Losing Pamela Mackey, Linda Collins, Orla Cronin, and then if you lose Hannah as well, that would have been insurmountable at certain stages, I think,” Twomey said.

Paudie Murray has been the man on the sidelines for Cork for most of the last decade, so it will be strange to see Twomey wearing the bainisteoir bib on All Ireland Day. Even weirder will be the sight of Davy Fitzgerald next to him. Not quite an odd pairing, but an unlikely pairing to lead Cork within touching distance of a record 29th title.

Like Kilkenny boss Dowling, Twomey has moved on from a previous role in the back room and has been given a sweet tune by his team so far this season.

The only two blemishes on Cork’s notebook are the National League final loss to Galway in April and the most recent group loss in the Championship to Tipperary.

Cork have always topped their group to advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals, so Tipp’s loss in itself didn’t hurt, although the red card was handed out at the end of that game at Ashling Thompson.

The four-time All-Ireland winner’s interminable appeal was finally successful, but not until the morning of the Waterford game, which may have been partly responsible for the team’s slow start.

The two semi-final winners, as it happened, were forced to come from behind to claim character-laden victories, Cork four over Deise in between and Kilkenny two behind Galway.

It is suspected that Kilkenny’s ruthless efficiency and wretched defense – against Galway goalkeeper Aoife Norris rejected more approaches than a Temple Bar bouncer – could well stifle Cork’s attack. The intensity of the team was extraordinary that day.

Assuming they stir up another storm, it will be up to referee Ray Kelly to apply his own interpretation of what is and is not a foul. Last year’s final was expertly handled by Liz Dempsey and given how Kelly handled the Cork-Waterford semi-final, he seems like a solid choice.

The teams drew their league encounter, with Cork catching a late leveler. Kilkenny to beat him this time.

CORK: A Lee; M Murphy, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; L Hayes, L Treacy, S McCarthy; H Looney, A Thompson; Mackey K, Keating F, Sigerson C; C Healy, S McCartan, A O’Connor.

Subtitles: M Lynch, E Murphy, C O’Sullivan, O McAllen, K Wall, K O’Mahony, I O’Regan, O Cahalane, A Egan, M Ring, A Hurley, A Smith, E Flanagan, A O’Neill, H. O’Leary

KILKENNY: A Norris; M Teehan, G Walsh, T Fitzgerald; N Deely, C Phelan, L Murphy; S Fitzgerald, K Power; D Gaul, M Kenneally, J Malone; M O’Connell, M Walsh, K Nolan.

Subtitles: E Kavanagh, A Prendergast, M Bambrick, S Dwyer, C Phelan, A McHardy, S Crowley, L Fennelly, S O’Keeffe, A Curtis, R Breen, C O’Keeffe, L Norris, C Comerford, M Corcoran.

Arbitrator: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

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