KILKENNY HIT THE final three points to ensure a second successive decider win over rivals Galway and add the Division 1 crown to their All-Ireland title.
Denise Gaule finished with six points as Kilkenny overcame a sluggish first half to post 1-5 without reply on the resumption and set the foundations for a strong charge to victory.
Galway, however, will be left to mull over another defeat in a final and the slew of goal chances which they failed to avail of.
The first score arrived after four minutes when Carrie Dolan pointed a free before Katie Nolan and Grace Walsh found their range to give the Cats an early advantage.
Niamh Kilkenny was next up to add her name to the scoresheet, breaking clear with possession from a ruck before charging through the middle unopposed and setting up a score for her midfield partner Aoife Donohoue.
Galway began to take charge of the physical stakes from there and stretched the Kilkenny cover to draw frees. Carrie Dolan profited plenty from the chances, hitting five frees between the posts in the opening half.
Her accuracy helped Galway into a 0-4 to 0-3 lead at the first water break.
Roisin Black tries to dispossess Michaela Kenneally.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Catherine Finnerty was a constant threat on the wing too and was sent through for a goal chance on 18 minutes after taking a pass from Sarah Spellman who won possession in the air. Kilkenny midfielder Grace Walsh raced in to commit the foul before Finnerty could pull the trigger and Dolan converted the free to take a two-point lead.
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Another goal chance came to Galway moments later but the sting of Dolan’s effort from close range was taken out by a half-hook.
Denise Gaule momentarily levelled proceedings from a free but Niamh McGrath produced a quick response to keep Galway ahead.
Dolan then sent over three points on the bounce to open a four-point advantage for Cathal Murray’s side, with Aoife Doyle grabbing a crucial point from a difficult angle to reduce the gap to three at the break.
That was Kilkenny’s first point in almost 10 minutes as they appeared to be struggling to to keep up with Galway’s pacey play.
The breather was just what Kilkenny needed however, hitting a quick 1-5 directly after the restart. Mary O’Connell began the sequence with a point and was followed by a brilliant goal from Aoife Doyle.
After catching a pass from Walsh, Doyle sprinted through the middle and slammed her shot into the roof of the net. Suddenly, Kilkenny were in front and there was more to come.
Ailish O’Reilly battles pst Davina Tobin.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Doyle brought her tally up to 1-2 moments later while Michaela Kenneally and O’Connell added further scores. Gaule also landed a monstrous score from close to the sideline as Kilkenny jumped into a 1-11 to 0-9 lead.
Galway needed a reboot and it came from midfielder Kilkenny who cut in from the wing with speed before crashing the ball past Aoife Norris.
Just two between the sides now as Gaule and Dolan traded frees over the concluding stages. Katie Nolan took her tally to three for Kilkenny while Siobhán McGrath grabbed her first point of the day in the final stretch.
Dolan converted her eighth free to leave just one point between the sides on 54 minutes. Meighan Farrell marched forward from her centre-half position to stretch Kilkenny further in front as Galway clawed two points back through Kilkenny and Donohue to tie things up in the dying minutes.
But it was the Cats who had the stronger finish, hitting the final three points to wrap up league honours. Substitute Steffi Fitzgerald produced an inspirational score from distance to reclaim the edge before O’Connell and Gaule put the decider to bed.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Katie Nolan (0-3), Grace Walsh (0-1), Denise Gaul (0-6 5f), Aoife Doyle (1-2), Mary O’Connell (0-3), Michaela Kenneally (0-1), Meighan Farrell (0-1), Steffi Fitzgerald (0-1)
Scorers for Galway: Carrie Dolan (0-10, 8f), Aoife Donohue (0-2), Niamh McGrath (0-1), Niamh Kilkenny (1-1), Siobhán McGrath (0-1),
1. Aoife Norris [Piltown]
2. Michelle Teehan [James Stephens]
3. Collette Dormer [Barrow Rangers]
4. Davina Tobin [Emeralds]
5. Kellyann Doyle [Piltown]
6. Meighan Farrell [Thomastown]
7. Aoife Prendergast [Dicksboro]
8. Niamh Deely [James Stephens]
9. Grace Walsh [Tullaroan]
10. Denise Gaule [Windgap]
11. Mary O’Connell [Clara]
12. Miriam Walsh [Tullaroan]
of the team
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13. Michaela Kenneally [Windgap]
14. Katie Nolan [St Martin’s]
15. Aoife Doyle [Piltown]
17. Laura Murphy [O’Loughlin Gaels] for Aoife Prendergast (36 mins)
18. Steffi Fitzgerald [Young Irelands] for Miriam Walsh (47 mins)
19. Katie Power [Piltown] for Michaela Kenneally (50 mins)
23. Miriam Bambrick [Barrow Rangers] for Kellyann Doyle (58 mins)
1. Sarah Healy [St Thomas]
2. Shauna Healy [Ardrahan]
3. Sarah Dervan [Mullagh]
4. Siobhán Gardiner [Ardrahan]
5. Róisín Black [Oranmore-Maree]
6. Emma Helebert [Ballinderreen]
7. Tara Kenny [Sarsfields]
8. Aoife Donohue [Mullagh]
9. Niamh Kilkenny [Pearses]
10. Niamh McGrath [Sarsfields]
21. Catherine Finnerty [Mountbellew-Moylough]
12. Sarah Spellman [Sarsfields]
13. Carrie Dolan [Clarinbridge]
14. Siobhán McGrath [Sarsfields]
15. Ailish O’Reilly [Oranmore-Maree]
17. Dervla Higgins [Athenry] for Tara Kenny (36 mins)
18. Catriona Cormican [Cappataggle] for Emma Helebert (41 mins)
19. AnnMarie Starr [Killimor] for Catherine Finnerty (45 mins)
20. Niamh Hannify [Oranmore-Maree] for Ailish O’Reilly (53 mins)
Referee: Justin Heffernan [Wexford]
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