Galway ladies reclaim Connacht crown with dominant display

A storming first-half display saw Galway claim their fifth Connacht Ladies Senior Football Championship title in six years in MacHale Park, Castlebar, on Sunday.

Led by centre-half forward Tracey Leonard, who finished with nine points, they saw off Mayo’s challenge with a composed and confident performance, winning 3-12 to 1-8.

They hit Mayo hard in the opening stages, and led by 2-2 to 0-0 after the first six minutes.

Aine McDonagh, who came into the starting team for Megan Glynn before throw-in, opened with a well-taken score within seconds of throw in, and that was followed up two minutes later by Leonard’s first score of the day.

Disaster struck for Mayo from the resulting kick-out with Sarah Conneally getting in the way of an attempted short restart and diverting the ball to the path of Mairead Seoighe who made no mistake from close range.

It got even better for the Tribeswomen a minute later when Niamh Duggan, who came on as a temporary sub for Conneally after the first goal, found the back of the net from close range after she was played in by Seoighe. That was followed by a Leonard free to put Galway into a 2-3 to 0-0 lead.

Mayo finally got on the scoreboard with a Cora Staunton free after 10 minutes, but Seoighe and Leonard tagged on two more points in quick succession to leave Galway 10 points clear. Mayo hit the next three points of the game with Staunton landing two frees and Sarah Rowe kicking one from play to cut the gap to seven.

However Galway were not going to let Mayo back into it that easy. Seoighe smashed home her second goal after showing some blistering footwork to beat two defenders. Leonard added another point - this time from play - to send Stephen Glennon’s women in leading by 3-7 to 0-4 at the break.

Staunton kicked the first point of the second half from a placed ball early on, but two Leonard scores kept Galway comfortably in front. Mayo were given a lifeline when Shauna Howley, who game on as a sub at half-time, fired home a goal for the homeside. Mayo almost bagged another straight away, but Fiona Doherty saw her effort come back off the bar.

Staunton kicked two points from frees over the next few minutes to leave the eventual winners leading by 3-9 to 1-7 with 15 minutes left on the clock. Mayo had another goal chance with seven minutes to go when Sarah Rowe was played in by Staunton, but her effort was blocked by Dearbhla Gower in the Galway goal and it was tidied up off the line by Aine Seoighe.

Stephen Glennon's side then closed out the game in winning style. Leonard tagged on two more points. Mairead Seoighe also joined the act, with Staunton kicking her seventh and final point in between, to see Galway win comfortably at the final whistle.

Scorers: Mayo: C Staunton (0-7, 6f ), S Howley (1-0 ), S Rowe (0-1 ); Galway: T Leonard (0-9, 7f ), M Seoighe (2-2 ), N Duggan (1-0 ), A McDonagh (0-1 )

Mayo: Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, M Corbett; R Kearns, M Carther, F Doherty; F McHale, A Gilroy; S Rowe, G Kelly, D Hughes; M McGing, C Staunton, N Gaughan. Subs: S Howley for M McGing, A Dowling for F Doherty, A Duffy for G Kelly

Galway: D Gower; F Cooney, N Connolly, E Flaherty; A Seoige, B Hannon, S Burke; L Gannon, C Cormican; O Divilly, T Leonard, A McDonagh; M Seoighe, S Conneally, R Leonard. Subs: N Duggan for S Conneally (BS ), M Glynn for S Conneally, A Daveron for A McDonagh, S Molloy for O Divilly.

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