A player who scorers 2-14 deserves to be on the winning side, and that was the case for Mayo’s Cora Staunton on Sunday when her team ended a four-match losing streak to Galway in the Connacht Senior Ladies Football Championship final at MacHale Park.
Mayo captain Sarah Tierney lifted the CBE Cup for the 10th time in Mayo’s history after the final whistle, and there could be little arguing the merits of Mayo’s 13-point victory, winning by 3-20 to 0-16.
Galway were blown away by the accuracy of Staunton, the strong running from deep by Aileen Gilroy and Fiona McHale, and the defensive organisation of Tierney.
One point had separated the teams in their last two meetings, and for most of the first half and the start of the second period, it looked like this contest was set to be a similar affair. Galway, who boasted five Connacht final debutantes in their ranks, led on three occasions in the opening half an hour.
Roisin Leonard thrice swung over scores from play off her left boot, but just when it seemed the teams would enter the dressing rooms tied, Staunton came into her own in the last four minutes before half time, shooting four points.
Mayo led 0-12 to 0-8, but three frees struck off the ground by Corofin forward Leonard brought Galway right back into it on the resumption.
Mayo soon started to turn the screw again with another clutch of points, and in the 40th minute they were awarded a penalty when Sarah Gormally brought down Niamh Kelly. Gormally was sin binned for 10 minutes, and Staunton converted her penalty from a rebound after Johanna Connolly had done well to repel her initial shot. Four minutes later, Staunton bagged her second goal and Mayo were 2-16 to 0-12 up. The game was effectively done for Galway.
The nearest Galway came to eating into Mayo’s lead was when Leonard reduced the arrears to 2-18 to 0-16 in the 60th minute with her 10th point. Mayo notched two more points and a goal from Kelly in added time to put some further gloss on the final result however.
Galway manager Willie Ward now must pick his young charges up for the qualifiers as their season is far from done yet. A win in that, and they will be into the All-Ireland quarter-finals, but they will need to improve.
Mayo: Y Byrne; N O’Malley, S Tierney, L Ryder; M Corbett, M Carter, O Conlon; F McHale (0-1 ), C McManamon (0-1 ); C Hegarty, A Gilroy (0-2 ), D Hughes; S Rowe, C Staunton (2-14, five frees ), N Kelly (1-1 ). Subs: G Kelly (0-1 ) for Rowe (36 ); Rowe for Hughes (48 ); D Caldwell for Kelly (48 ); C McManamon for Ryder (52; S Howley for Conlon (66 ).
Galway: J Connolly; F Cooney, N Connolly, S Gormally; M Heneghan, N Ward, S Hynes; M Hoey, P Gleeson; O Divilly, M Glynn, L Gannon; R Leonard (0-10, six frees ), L Ward (0-1 ), E Concannon (0-3 ). Subs: G O’Connor (0-1 ) for Divilly (h/t ); M Seoighe (0-1 ) for Gleeson (45 ); C Cooney for Gannon (57 ); D. Brennan for Glynn (63 ).
Referee: John Niland (Sligo ).