This time 12 months ago, the Galway ladies side staged an ultimate snatch and grab raid when they overturned a ten point deficit with 15 minutes left to claim the Connacht title in McHale Park. They outscored Mayo by 3-5 to 0-2 in that final quarter of an hour, 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, this time with the Tribeswomen having home advantage in Tuam Stadium for the 4pm throw-in.
Mayo this year are under the guidance of former Dublin manager Peter Clarke, who has so far had a very successful start to his tenure, not only guiding Mayo to safety in division one of the national football league, but to the final where they were ultimately defeated by the pre-eminent ladies side of the last decade Cork, but one the way they did take a major scalp beating Monaghan in the semi-final.
Over the course of the league run, Clarke has built on the existing strong foundations that still exist in the side by blending in plenty of younger future stars into the team. The likes of Ciara and Clodagh McManamon, Sarah Rowe, Amy Bell and Kathryn Sullivan have all come to the fore, while the familiar and experienced names such as Cora Staunton, Claire Egan, Fiona McHale and Martha Carter are all still in the side, giving it an exciting blend of youth and experience.
As for Mayo’s opponents on Sunday, their league campaign saw them finish second in the division two, before loosing out to the Kingdom girls on a score of 1-13 to 1-10 in the divisional final. Galway showed great fighting spirit much like last years Connacht decider, as the cut an eight point gap back to two points in the closing stages, before a late Kerry point put a goal between the sides right at the death. Edel Concannon was the Tribeswoman’s top scorer on that day kicking six of her sides points and Galway manager Barry Downey will be looking to her to lead the side again on Sunday.
However, the experience of a tough division one league season and the experience gained there will stand them well, during the group stages they picked up wins against Dublin, Meath, Donegal and Tyrone to finish in fourth place in the table, and they ground out a gritty win against Monaghan in their semi-final in Leitrim in tough conditions, before they fell to the challenge of the Rebelettes in the final on a scoreline of 0-14 to 0-7. Since the final, Mayo have been hitting the training field hard and will be more than ready for what Galway will throw at them on Sunday afternoon.