It is difficult to believe any county could suffer the heartbreak of losing five All-Ireland senior finals in any code in the space of 14 years. Yet that is the painfully cold statistic that faces Galway Camogie after another shattering defeat in a senior decider last Sunday in Croke Park.
The team went down by two points, 2-07 to 1-08, to Wexford. That is the same losing margin as last year and to the same opposition.
It was a devastating defeat for the ladies involved and what is most disappointing of all is that this was a game Galway could and should have won.
Noel Finn’s team dominated possession for practically the whole game and were on top on both their own puck-outs and on Wexford’s. However when the game was in the balance in the last 10 minutes, it was Wexford who pushed on and grabbed victory.
They seemed to have more belief. They knew what had to be done to win a game that they should have lost, whereas the opposite case can be made for Galway.
That difference in know how is easily explained: Wexford have now captured three All-Ireland titles in 2007, 2010 and 2011. The Tribeswomen have lost three titles in the same time period, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Galway hit too many wides and hit some aimless balls up the field instead of being ruthless and efficient in front of the posts.
A hugely disappointed Noel Finn admitted as much after the game.
"We were three points up twice, but couldn’t push on. We missed a few scores to put us four or five points in front and that was probably the difference," he said.
"Fair play to Wexford, they’re All-Ireland champions and they showed why. The break of a ball, that was the difference between the two sides."
What will really stick in the craw when the game is analysed is that Galway won most of the individual battles.
Centre back Therese Maher, who was exceptional all through the contest, and midfielders Niamh Kilkenny and Ann-Marie Starr were going well, but the challengers did not show their superiority on the scoreboard with the result that the half-time score of 1-2 to 0-3, with Wexford ahead, looked decidedly flattering for the champions.
Two points inside two minutes at the start of the second half, one each from Noreen Coen and the flying Tara Ruttledge, tied the game. When Ruttledge goaled with a screamer off the ground in the 38th minute, Galway looked to be headed for that long-awaited second title.
Though still winning good possession, Galway were not able to capitalise. Had they gone a few points up at that juncture, the O’Duffy Cup would be in Killimor now. Instead Wexford brought the deficit back to just one point, 1-5 to 1-4.
Again Galway pushed out to a three-point lead, Niamh Kilkenny and Aislinn Connolly with the points, but again they failed to push on. Balls dropped short. One bad wide. Not enough conviction.
The game turned in an instant. A shot from Tara Ruttledge came back off an upright and the ball was safely cleared. Within seconds, Wexford had a goal from captain Ursula Jacob. On such margins All-Irelands are lost. And won.
Wexford tacked on two more points and headed for the steps of the Hogan Stand. Galway players and management stood and watched the presentation dejectedly before heading for the vanquished dressing-room once again, with a bitter defeat to mull over.
Galway: Susan Earner, Therese Manton, Sinéad Cahalan, Lorraine Ryan, Ann-Marie Hayes, Therese Maher, Heather Cooney, Ann Marie Starr, Niamh Kilkenny 0-1 (45), Aislinn Connolly 0-2 (1f), Martina Conroy 0-1, Noreen Coen 0-1, Tara Ruttledge 1-1, Brenda Hanney (cpt), Veronica Curtin 0-1. Sub used: Orla Kilkenny 0-1 for Curtin.
•Galway Camogie senior manager Noel Finn stepped down on Sunday evening in the wake of his side’s narrow defeat to Wexford.
The whole panel was bitterly disappointed with the loss and Finn, who has won All-Irelands at junior and intermediate levels as manager, felt it was time for someone else to take on the job.