By Daragh Ó Conchúir
NEITHER Tipperary nor Wexford managed to achieve the unlikely mathematical feats required to deny Kilkenny a place in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 semi-finals, and the champions will play Galway next Sunday, with Cork facing off against Limerick in the other semi.
The Cats fell to their second defeat of the campaign as Katrina Mackey notched up eight points to give Cork the narrow verdict, 0-12 to 0-11.
Kilkenny had seven individual scorers and would have been happy with their start as they shared six points with the visitors but points from Chloe Sigerson, Amy O'Connor and Mackey moved Cork three clear.
That was still the margin with two minutes of normal time remaining but the Noresiders finished strongly with a brace of points from Miriam Walsh setting up a grandstand finish. They couldn't find the leveller though meaning they had to concede this battle.
Wexford, who inflicted the first loss of the season on the All-Ireland champions last February, needed to beat Dublin by at least 32 points at Innovate Wexford Park but were unable to prevent the visitors from recording a coveted first victory by 0-16 to 1-8.
There was never much between the sides but Wexford held a narrow advantage for three quarters of proceedings thanks to Linda Bolger's early goal. When Úna Leacy and Brid Gordon pointed the margin was four. Emma Flanagan and Aisling Maher responded for Dublin and it was 1-5 to 0-5 at half time.
David Herity's girls edged back into the tie though and once they drew level, found another gear, points from Aisling Maher, Ali McGuire and Zoe O'Donohue seeing them home.
Tipp would have had to finish 49 points clear of Waterford at The Ragg to deny Kilkenny the last berth from Group 1. That was never realistic but they did manage to grab the 1-18 to 0-9 win to finish third in the table.
Galway and Limerick had already qualified to the last four from Group 2 so there was little at stake in their final rubber apart from the desire to maintain momentum and it is the Connacht outfit that came out on top in the Shannonside derby, 1-13 to 0-9.
Ailish O'Reilly and Niamh Mulcahy both provided seven of their teams' point but Mulcahy did not have enough of a support cast, whereas Linda Loughnane notched up a goal for Galway and the classy Niamh Kilkenny raised three white flags.
In the other game, goals from Ann Marie Guinan and Patrice Delaney ensured Offaly third position and the 2-12 to 0-11 verdict against a Clare side that was overly-reliant on Chloe Morey, who scored seven points.
In Division 2, the semi-final pairings will see Derry play Kildare while Cork will take on Carlow.