Galway women's soccer continues to make great strides with the u-16 team finishing ninth in this year's FAI Gaynor Cup.
The squad of 20 girls from seven Galway clubs secured their ninth place with a penalty shoot out against North Tipperary - goalie Nia Folan saving all three shots, while Doyle, McGreen and Connolly all dispatched theirs with ease.
With a large contingent of players remaining underage for next year’s u-16 cup, Galway is expected to be a real force in 2016.
This year's event proved highly competitive with Galway competing in possibly the toughest group. As a result qualification for the cup semi-finals went right down to the third and final game, where all teams retained the potential to progress.
In their first game, Galway claimed a 0-0 draw with a strong Wexford side, and were disappointed not to have secured all three points after dominating the opening half. Galway’s second game versus NECWSL resulted in a similar feeling after the final whistle blew with a 1-1 draw, Galway’s goal courtesy of an Aoife Thompson left foot.
While Galway were unlucky at times in front of the opposition goal, goalkeeper Nia Folan was impressive, both in the air and in one-on-one situations, and she was well supported in the opening games by her defensive troops Rachel Honan, Molly McNevin, Rachel Hanniffy and Claire Conry.
The final group game was a nail biter, and with a win unfolding for NECWSL on the adjacent pitch, Galway required all three points against Cork to progress to the cup semi-final. In a game which saw few clear-cut chances, Cork scored in the final minutes on the break to clinch first spot in the group, with NECWSL second, Galway third and Wexford fourth. Cork went on to win the tournament.
Despite initial disappointment, Galway regrouped and set out to win their final two games which would secure ninth place. Game one against local rivals Mayo drew Galway’s best performance and displayed the depth in Galway’s squad with all players in action. Goals from Aoife Thompson, Ciara Murphy, and a cracker from Grace Gilmore led to a comprehensive 3-1 victory. Strong performances from substitutes Laura McDaid, Catherine Timon, Lauren O’Dea and Emma Connolly made a significant impact and helped guide Galway to their final game versus North Tipperary.
Salthill Devon stars Sadhbh Doyle and Melissa McGreen combined to open up the opposition defence, and from a neat through ball Green showed tremendous composure to side foot the ball into the bottom right corner for Galway’s opener. North Tipperary however, forced their way back into the game to equalise, requiring a penalty shoot out, which Galway won.