DENIS KELLY was delighted his Tipperary side got a run-out at Croke Park as the Premier tore Antrim apart in the second half of Saturday’s All-Ireland camogie quarter-final.
The Munster side are bidding to reach a first decider in 17 years and with Kilkenny dethroned by Cork yesterday, the field is wide open.
Tipp will meet Waterford in the semi-final on July 22, with Cork taking on Galway in the other last-four showdown.
Antrim kept pace with them for the first quarter but then Tipperary pulled away, with Cáit Devane accounting for 2-6 and Eimear Heffernan adding a third goal.
Premier boss Kelly admitted: “Going straight through to the semi-finals — like Galway and Waterford have done — has its attractions.
“You like to get extra time to prepare for the semi-final. But who doesn’t want to get a game in Croke Park?
“Antrim worried us for a good while during that first half, playing an extra defender, and we found it difficult to play against them.
“But we got a bit of a lead before half-time, came in and settled down.
“In the second half we went back to basics with a high work-rate and it really stood to us.”
Kelly conceded that his team had more experience at this level.
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He said: “Antrim have come a huge distance in the last few years. It’s like building blocks, you take it step by step.
“They took a beating but they now have a taste for playing at this level and it will stand to them.
“I’d be happy enough with my girls, the second half especially.
“Some of our subs — Eimear Heffernan had a fabulous game, Caoimhe McCarthy, Mary Ryan — all our subs made an excellent contribution.
“You want it to be difficult picking a team for the semi-final and knowing there are players on the bench who can make things happen too.
“We had two girls who were sick — Casey Hennessy and Grace O’Brien.
“They started, but we had to bring them off. They will be back fighting fit.”
Devane’s haul included a super shot over her left shoulder and a sublime finish for her second goal.
And Kelly said: “Cáit made a big contribution. But she can’t do that unless she is getting a supply of the ball, she’d be the first to say that.
“Tipp teams used to depend fully on Cáit. If she was held in a game, you were beaten. This team isn’t like that.”
The Clonoulty-Rossmore Player of the Match added: “Every player wants to be playing in Croke Park, the sun shining and it all to play for.
“We know we’re not too far off the mark. But it’s week on week. We will have to refocus immediately. Our goal has to be to reach the final.
“We want to be taking the next step.”
SCORERS — Tipperary: C Devane 2-6, 4f, E Heffernan 1-4; E McGrath 0-5f; C McIntyre 0-2; C Hennessy 0-1, C McCarthy 0-1, R Howard 0-1, Caoimhe Maher 0-1, G O’Brien 0-1, C Ryan 0-1.
Antrim: R McCormick 0-4, 3f; N Cosgrove 0-1f, C Dobbin 0-1f.