Galway ladies retained their Connacht title after comfortably disposing of a physical Sligo side at Tubbercurry on Sunday.
Killanin’s Sinead Burke hit two goals for the Tribeswomen – the first coming after just three minutes when she raced through the Sligo defence and blasted past Emma Cullen in the Sligo goal. That established an early four-point lead coupled with Niamh Duggan’s early free.
After another Duggan score, Sligo opened their scoresheet with a Stephanie O’Reilly point, but Burke found the net again after 14 minutes when Patricia Gleeson ran through from midfield and fisted to Burke who rounded Cullen and tapped into the empty net.
At 2-2 to 0-1, the seven-point gap would never be reduced by a battling Sligo as points from Duggan, Lorna Joyce, Edel Concannon and two from Una Carroll made up the remainder of Galway’s first-half scores.
Sligo could only muster three more from two Noelle Gormley frees and a late punch from Nicole Fowley.
Leading by nine at the break, Galway took the foot off the pedal in a lacklustre second half and never shifted out of third gear.
Manager Gay O’Brien used the opportunity to introduce four substitutes with Mairead Coyne, Niamh Fahy, Sarah Conneally and Claire Hehir all entering the fold.
Keen to impress, Coyne and Hehir kicked a point each late on, while at this stage Galway had hit their third goal from a penalty.
On another weaving run seven minutes into the half, Burke looked to be on the verge of a hat-trick of goals until she was felled to the ground by Cullen and the penalty was awarded.
Niamh Duggan then coolly slotted low to the left to bring her scoring tally to 1-3.
In a determined fight to restore pride, Sligo made life difficult for the champions for much of the second half, but could only manage three more scores with Gormley kicking two frees and Eilise Codd raising the white flag early on.
Galway were nowhere near their best but they did not need to be, while the gap would have been more more respectable for Sligo had they not hit six disappointing wides.
Emer Flaherty, Maria Hoey, Patricia Gleeson and Aoibheann Daly all looked solid and the second-half substitutes all ensured that there will be competition for places next time around.
Next up for Galway are the All-Ireland quarter finals where they exited the competition in a heartbreaking one-point defeat against Monaghan last year.
Galway: T Hughes; A Seoighe (M Hoey 30mins ), N Connolly, R McPhilbin; G Conneally, E Flaherty, N Lohan (S Conneally 56mins ); P Gleeson, A Daly; L Joyce (0-1 ), S Burke (2-0 ), E Concannon (0-2 ) (M Coyne 56mins 0-1 ); S Murphy (C Hehir 44mins 0-1 ), U Carroll (0-3 ), N Duggan (1-3 ) (N Fahy 44mins ).
Sligo: E Cullen; C Kennedy (C Colleran 60mins ), C Doyle, F Na Fianna; R Goodwin, T O’Hara, J Mulligan; B Byrne, S McTiernan; S O’Sullivan, S O’Reilly (0-1 ), E O’Reilly (R Colleary 30mins ); E Codd (0-1 ), N Gormley (0-4 ), N Fowley (0-1 ).
Referee: M Kenny (Mayo ).