As the Galway Ladies look towards preparing for championship season, manager Barry Downey remains postive despite his side’s disappointing loss in the National League division two final to Kerry on Sunday.
The maroon and white’s poor start left them trailing by six and they spent the remainder of the game chasing the lead, a situation that Barry Downey believes was sparked by nerves.
“We just didn’t perform really,” he says. “ I’d say we played to about 70 per cent of our potential and I think nerves played a part in the early part of the game.
“ Having said that, the girls did show great resolve and they fought hard to get back in to the contest. If there were another four or five minutes left, we probably could have scraped out the win, but it wasn’t to be. It was a bit of a reality check for us and we’ll go back to training and up the performance levels again in time for championship.”
Inclement weather conditions were a prevailing factor behind Kerry’s blistering start and that, coupled with the visible nerves among the Galway players, left them with too high a peak to climb.
But Downey is taking traction from the Galway players’ strength in character for exploiting the sin bin against Kerry.
“They brought it back to just a kick of the ball and that’s a great reflection of their attitude. We just couldn’t get the scores and that shows in the changes we made (four in the forwards, zero in defence ).”
June will be a hectic month for the Galway ladies with four challenge fixtures scheduled. Their preparations will benefit further by the u-21 championship taking place this weekend. Nine players from the senior squad who appeared during the league final are eligible for this competition as well as other panel members.
Manager Downey predicts more of those younger players may feature in the senior ranks soon.
“There will probably be a few changes to the panel just to freshen things up before the game against Mayo. We’re looking towards the future now and that’s what’s important.”
This is the second consecutive year in which the Galway troops marched into the final, only to be disappointed. The game was effectively decided after 14 minutes as Kerry thundered into 1-4 to 0-0 lead. With the strong breeeze in their favour, a third minute penalty was sent soaring into the top corner by Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
By half time however, Galway were just 1-8 to 0-5 adrift of the 2012 All-Ireland finalists. The momentum was gradually shifting thanks to brace of points as Deirdre Brennan and Edel Concannon reignited the Galway spirits just before the whistle was sounded. And when play resumed, Concannon and player of the match Sarah Houlihan traded frees but Kerry continued to assert superiority through a 41st minute point from the boot of Laura Rogers.
By the three quarter mark, it looked like Galway’s fate was sealed as Kerry extended the margin to eight points at 1-11 to 0-6 but they were thrown a lifeline in the 47th minute. Kerry’s corner back was issued a sin bin sentence for persistent fouling, and Galway midfielder Annette Clarke crashed a penalty into the Kerry net to bridge the gap back to five.
The hooter bellowed just in time for Kerry whose defence remained steadfast against the Galway onslaught. The westerners were outmatched in scoring prowess and the experienced Kerry side, with three All-Star players, was always going to win this contest.
Galway: J Connolly; A Rohan, R McPhilibin, N Ward; B Hannon (0-1 ), E Flaherty, S Burke; A Clarke (1-0 ), E Curley; G Conneally, D Brennan (0-1 ), A Daly(0-1 ); T Leonard, R Leonard, E Concannon (0-6 all frees ). Subs: L Joyce for T Leonard (h.t. ), L Hannon(0-1 ) for Conneally (45 ), C Cormican for Curley (45 ), C Hehir for Brennan (48 ), G O’Connor for R Leonard (54 ).