The Galway ladies footballers’ 2011 championship campaign was brought to an end by reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin at St Brendan’s Park in Birr on Saturday – ending a disappointing year for Gay O’Brien’s squad. After only managing two first half points, Galway improved dramatically after the restart but failed to turn their lengthy spells of possession into badly needed scores. After sending over the first point of the game the Jackies were handed a dream start when Amy Ring’s effort from far out on the right-hand side dipped fiercely and landed in the corner of the net to stun Galway.
Sinead Aherne quickly dispatched again for the Dubs to give them an early four-point cushion, and Dora Gorman soon replied for the girls in maroon in what would be their last score until the stroke of half time.
Two each from Aherne and Lindsay Peat furthered Dublin’s dominance, as Galway frantically tried to carve out a decent scoring chance and get it past Dublin’s 60 metre line. Maybe the final warning Galway needed was when Amy Ring was sent clean through by Peat, and as she bore down on goal she somehow struck the post.
As the final minute of the first half loomed, Galway found a sudden burst of life as Aoibheann Daly fed Goran, and the Barna youngster accurately picked out the darting Edel Concannon who made no mistake to slot into the bottom corner of the net handing Galway a precious lifeline right on the buzzer.
Galway started the second half the brighter – and marked their intent with a whopping score from experienced midfielder Daly. But again Galway would wait 10 minutes before their next penetration of the Dublin rearguard and after Aherne tapped over a free they netted their second goal 10 minutes into the half as Lyndsey Davey this time finished a swift attacking move by blasting into the roof of the net to make it 2-7 to 1-3.
Two more Leonard scores and one from Barbara Hannon kept Galway’s noses just above water, as dominant spells of possession were wasted with Leonard, Hannon, and substitute Marie Brennan all guilty of hitting wides as time became more precious. As the final 10 minutes began, Dublin hit the killer blow as Davey completed her brace in a similar move to her first goal which badly exposed the Galway back line, while Elaine Kelly hit Dublin’s final score on the hour mark.
Gay O’Brien introduced Niamh Fahey and Caitriona Cormican to try to salvage something, but all they could muster was a consolation goal from Gorman in the final seconds following Annette Clarke’s high ball in and a quick lay-off from Fahey. In a similar scenario to the Galway senior men’s season, the Galway ladies were relegated from Division 1 of the National League; and lost both of their championship games – with uncertainty hanging over O’Brien’s future.