Galway Ladies ready to defend provincial crown against Mayo

Galway and Mayo renew rivalries this weekend in provincial deciders at both senior and u-16 level.

A year ago the Galway ladies staged an ultimate snatch and grab raid when they overturned a 10-point deficit in the final 15 minutes to claim the Connacht title in McHale Park.

They outscored Mayo by 3-5 to 0-2 in that period to avenge a defeat handed out to them in the division two league final a few months previously.

This Sunday both sides will meet again in the provincial decider with the Tribeswomen having home advantage in Tuam Stadium for the 4pm throw-in.

Both also enjoyed good runs in this year’s National League with Mayo reaching the division one final, and Galway contesting the division two decider.

Galway showed great fighting spirit, much like last year’s Connacht decider, as they cut an eight-point gap to just two points in the closing stages. However a late Kerry point put a goal between the sides right at the death. Edel Concannon was the Tribeswomen’s top scorer on that day, kicking six of her side’s points, and Galway manager Barry Downey will be looking to her to lead the side again on Sunday.

Mayo, now under the guidance of former Dublin manager Peter Clarke, ensured the county remained in the top division of the league, while also making that final which they lost to the Rebel County by 0-14 to 0-7.

However Clarke has plenty of big names in Cora Staunton, Fiona McHale, Player of the Month for May as a result of her performances for Mayo and Connacht, Claire Egan and Lisa Cafferkey, while centre back Martha Carter and Aileen Gilroy were also named in the division one team of the league.

Like Mayo, who used the league to blood youngsters, Galway boast some nine u-21 players who reached the final of the Aisling McGing Championship. Although they lost by two points to Cork, it should have proved a valuable experience for Downey’s charges in the run-up to Sunday’s provincial decider.

Downey will know his players must stifle Mayo’s scoring threat, and in particular Cora Staunton, if they are to prevail on Sunday. Against Cork in the division one final, Staunton was restricted to just a pointed free in the second half which proved a key factor in the Rebelettes’ victory.

It has been a long lay-off since early May for both sides, but if this final is anything like last year’s game, it is sure to be a cracker.

On Saturday Galway’s u-16 side, managed by Garry Donnellan, also clash in the Connacht final - venue and throw-in time to be announced. They enjoyed a comfortable victory earlier in the championship, but are prepared for sterner test on Saturday.

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