Galway Ladies 0
FC Zurich Frauen 2
The Galway & Distict League Ladies team suffered their first defeat in Europe when going down to group winners FC Zurich yesterday in Sarajevo.
It was a heartbreaking result for the squad, coached by Stephen Lally, who had beaten top seeds Belarus and drawn with hosts Bosnia in their previous two matches.
The Galway ladies should take great heart from their performance in finishing second in their group - an unprecedented result for an Irish team in this tournament.
In yesterday’s game they made the worst possible start when conceding a goal after five minutes. A dubious free kick was awarded on the edge of the box and the ball inevitably ended up in the back of the net.
To their credit Galway kept their heads, and with central defenders Emer Flatley and Annette Clarke dominating at the back , midfielders Meabh De Burca and Ruth Fahy began to make their presence felt. Aoife Burke started on the left in the absence of JulieAnn Russell, and on 20 minutes was put through by Susie Cunningham - only to see her effort go over the bar.
Lucy Hannon on the right had a magnificent game and was a constant threat. Galway were dealt a severe blow when contender for player of the tournament Kara Mullins left the field after 22 minutes with an Achilles injury and was replaced by Michelle Glynn.
Cunningham had another chance to level matters just before half time when her header beat the keeper, but just skimmed the crossbar.
Young Tessa Mullins - just 16 last week and one of the youngest Irish players to feature in Europe - made her European debut on 60 minutes and almost scored with her first touch. She had a fine game and added impetus to the attack.
However the game finished as a contest when on 70 minutes the Ukrainian referee awarded a penalty and the hero of the previous two games, Melissa Casserly, was unable to prevent a 2-0 scoreline.
Galway had heroes everywhere and none more so with their two young full backs Aine Hannon and Deirdre Connell who performed magnificently in all three games.
It was also great to see Grainne Barrett come on for the last five minutes after suffering with an injury all summer.
This is a very young Galway side with no fewer than seven teenagers in the starting line-up.
An Irish Cup final game now awaits this team in four weeks with strong hopes theycan win back to back WFAI Senior Cups and look forward to future encounters in Europe.
FC Zurch will now progress to the second qualifying round where they will join Arsenal, Austria's SV Neulengbach, and the team that knocked out the holders in last season's quarter-finals, Olympique Lyonnais.
Former Galway footballer Niamh Fahey, who is now with Arsenal, has featured in the London club’s impressive start in England, beating Everton LFC 1-0 to lift the FA Women's Community Shield and winning their first four league games with a total of 29 goals. Lyon have a 100 per cent record in France after three matches.
Galway: Melissa Casserly, Aine Hannon, Emer Flatley, Annette Clarke, Deirdre Connell, Aoife Burke, Meadbh De Burca (capt ), Ruth Fahy, Lucy Hannon, Kara Mullins, Susie Cunningham. Subs, Michelle Glynn, Tessa Mullins, Grainne Barrett, Theresa Fahy, Paula Kelly, Heather Duffy, Tara Gavin, Tina Hughes, Anna McCormack, Becky Walsh, Jessica McSweeney.