Slick Galway secure win
CBE Connacht Ladies SFC
MAYO and Galway ladies have had their epic battles over the last couple of years and this encounter on Sunday afternoon will be added to the growing list. Nasty weather conditions didn’t seem to upset either team as they game opened up with a blistering start; a goal apiece inside two minutes setting the tempo.
Galway had the gale force wind at their backs for the first period and this advantage helped the visitors open a five point deficit which Mayo were unable to close. Galway owed much of this victory to their sharp, accurate and smart forward-line.
The likes of Annette Clarke, Niamh Fahey and Lorna Joyce were instrumental for Galway who only kicked four wides over the 60 plus minutes. At the other end Mayo looked to the experienced duo of Cora Staunton and Diane O’Hora to adjust the scoreboard.
On the tactics front Galway had their homework done, their blanket defence smothered out several Mayo attacks. The switch which saw Annette Clarke play in a more forward role was a touch of genius as the strong midfielder kicked four impressive points.
Mayo were second best on the day but all is not over for Charlie Lambert’s side. They fought bravely in the final quarter but were beaten by the clock. Outstanding performances came from Caroline McGing, Helena Lohan, Emma Mullin and the aforementioned duo of Cora Staunton and substitute Diane O’Hora.
This game gathered an electric pace from the throw-in and the worst possible start for the home-side came inside a minute. Lorna Joyce fed in Gillian Joyce whose shot for a point dropped under the crossbar above Mayo ‘keeper Linda Connolly’s stretching hands to raise the green flag.
Mayo responded in the best manner when a similar move involving Triona McNicholas and Marcella Heffernan as the latter smacked the ball past Una Carroll from close range to level the scores. Cora Staunton swung over a beauty of a free a minute later before Galway stepped up a gear.
The tribeswomen kicked 1-4 without reply in a six minute period which proved to be decisive even towards the final whistle. Annette Clarke got the trend going after a good take and feed from Niamh Fahey before wing-back Ann-Marie McDonagh put Galway in the lead on five minutes. A point each from Clarke and Fahey extended the gap to three before the first nail was hammered into Mayo’s coffin on the ten minute mark.
GRIPPING STUFF Mayo’s Cora Staunton struggles to escape the clutches of Galway’s Aoibheann Daly during Sunday’s CBE Connacht Ladies SFC Final at McHale Park, Castlebar.
A high ball from Niamh Duggan was broken and collected by Niamh Fahey who rattled the net from ten yards out to leave the scores reading 2-4 to 1-1. Once again Mayo stood up to the mark and kicked four unanswered points to help narrow the margin. Captain Cora kicked two frees before she struck over a fantastic solo effort from play on fifteen minutes, leaving just a goal between the sides.
Christina Heffernan got her just reward for tireless running when she pointed three minutes later. It was at this stage where Mayo crucially remained scoreless for the remainder of the half, allowing Galway to build up a lengthy lead before the interval.
Niamh Fahey raised the white flag on nineteen minutes when a possible goal was on before Niamh Duggan and Gillian Joyce (free) left the half-time scores reading 2-7 to 1-5 in favour of the visitors.
Mayo needed a positive opening ten minutes to get back on track with the wind behind them but they were outscored four points to two, the hosts leaving themselves a tough task in the final 20 minutes. Galway’s scores came from Patricia Gleeson, Gillian Joyce (free), Lorna Joyce and Annette Clarke while Diane O’Hora and Emma Mullin were on target for the green and red.
O’Hora and Staunton continued their scoring threat as a left footed strike from the latter followed by two points from Cora (one free) set up a dramatic finish with the game entering the final quarter. Annette Clarke crucially got Galway back on the scoreboard after a fifteen minute barren spell to extend the lead to five with 54 minutes played.
Cora was on hand to narrow the gap once again with a free two minutes later.
The game was entering a nervy stage with Galway taking no chances bringing all but two players behind their own 45’. Cora closed the gap to a goal with a 50 yard screamer with only 90 seconds left on the timer.
Diane O’Hora pointed with the next attack and possession was crucial from the resulting kickout. It was Mayo’s last chance but it was not to be as captain Lorna Joyce gathered possession from the breaking ball to make sure Galway retained the Connacht title for the third year running.
A tough draw awaits Mayo but they can take many positives out of Sunday’s game as they look to progress.
L Connolly; S McGing, H Lohan, C McGing; C O’Hara, N O’Shea, Y Byrne; C Egan, C McDermott; E Mullin (0-1), F McHale, M Heffernan (1-0); C Staunton (0-8, 5fs), C Heffernan (0-1), T McNicholas. Subs used: D O’Hora (0-3) for McHale, S Tyrell for Byrne, M Kelly for S McGing, K Colleran for McNicholas.
U Carroll; M O’Connell, E Flaherty, M Glynn; C Cormican, A Daly, AM McDonagh (0-1); E Concannon, P Gleeson (0-1), G Conneely, G Joyce (1-2, 0-2fs), N Duggan (0-1); A Clarke (0-4), N Fahey (1-2), L Joyce (0-1). Subs used: L Coohill for Conneely.
Referee: L McDonagh (Sligo)