Another dominant performance this season has propelled Galway to a sixth Ladies Football League final, and their first in four years.
For the second week in succession they played Donegal and although the result was that bit closer, Galway still prevailed by seven points, 1-12 to 1-5.
Now Galway will meet Cork on Sunday May 5 in Parnell Park. Cork overcame a massive challenge against Dublin, winning by 1-18 to 2-14. They needed extra-time to end Dublin’s reign as Lidl League champions, but 13 points from Orla Finn and an inspirational goal from Melissa Duggan got them over the line in Nowlan Park.
Picking up right where they left off two weeks ago, Galway’s superb form this spring continued and they were fully deserving of their five-point half-time lead (0-9 to 1-1 ). Louise Ward won the throw-in and sprinted through to fire over the opening score after just 10 seconds, and when Róisín Leonard and Mairéad Seoighe added points from the next two attacks, it looked as if Galway were capable of kicking a big score.
Donegal’s first visit inside the Galway 20 metre line did not arrive until the seventh minute, but they made it count. Niamh Hegarty played in Geraldine McLaughlin, and having just mistimed her challenge, Galway goalkeeper Lisa Murphy fouled the attacker conceding a penalty which was converted. This levelled the teams for the first and last time in the game. Other than that moment the first half was all about Galway. Five wides were the only negative for Galway in a first half of tireless support play and super kick passing.
Galway effectively ended the tie after 35 minutes when Megan Glynn finished a well-worked move after combining with Mairead Seoighe and Sarah Conneally. This put them eight points ahead, and they were able to start thinking about a league final appearance.
Tracey and Roisin Leonard once again put in magnificent performances for their team, scoring 0-9 out of 1-12. They have been Galway’s main scoring contributors over the last number of years and will need to continue that trend against Cork to give their team a better chance of winning.
Galway’s last three league final appearances in 2005, 2010, and 2015 have all been against Cork, losing all three, but most recently in 2015 losing after a replay. Having beaten Cork in the earlier stages of the league, this team will go into this final with no fear of what is in front of them. Galway will continue to play the way they have throughout the league, but will know a better performance is needed to beat a well drilled Cork team.
Manager Tim Rabbitte was happy to praise his team.
“The goal was to improve our performance and see where that brought us. We didn’t put any limitations on the squad either. We went out to play and see if we could improve our performance all the time, and we’ve done that.
"We’re delighted, but we’ve some things to work on. Some of our decision making and our skills let us down again,” he said.
The biggest worry for Tim Rabbitte and his backroom team will be how much they eased off the throttle once they believed the game was won. If it were not for wayward shooting from Donegal’s freetaker, his game could have become much closer near the end.
Deservingly in the final, but knowing they have plenty of work to do, Rabbitte said: “We won all our league games bar one, so we deserve to be in a final, and we just have to see can we put a better performance together for that.”
This was another composed performance from Galway, doing enough to get themselves where they wanted to be. This league final will be a huge step-up in class, and every Galway player will need to be on top of her game if they are to win.
Scorers: Galway: T Leonard 0-5 (4f ), R Leonard 0-4, M Glynn 1-0, L Ward, B Hannon & M Seoighe 0-1 each.
Galway : L Murphy; S Burke, S Lynch, S Molloy; O Murphy, F Cooney, C Cooney; B Hannon, L Ward; O Divilly, T Leonard, M Glynn; M Seoighe, R Leonard, S Conneally. Subs: L Coen for Conneally (47 ), R Ní Flatharta for Glynn (59 ), M Coyne for C Cooney (59 ), L Noone for Seoighe (60+1 ).