Tribeswomen hold off Mayo challenge

Galway 1-16 Mayo 1-12; Connacht LGFA SFC Final

Despite scoring 0-11, Cora Staunton found herself on the losing side in Sunday's Connacht Final. Photo:Sportsfile.

Despite scoring 0-11, Cora Staunton found herself on the losing side in Sunday's Connacht Final. Photo:Sportsfile.

There were only four points to separate the sides on the scoreboard at the end of the game in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon, but in reality the gap on the field was much, much bigger as Galway never once look in trouble over the course of the contest. Mayo made numerous, elementary mistakes that they will be kicking themselves about over the coming days and know that if they had cut them out they could have been in with a real fighters chance going down the home straight.

Galway worked very well together as a unit, moving from defence to attack with speed and precision, while the Mayo attack was often left isolated and starved of possession and when Mayo were chasing the game late on, their 'ace in the pack' Cora Staunton had to come deep to find possession and thus nullifying her potential game breaking influence close to goal.

Galway opened the scoring five minutes in when Barbra Hannon kicked the first of her three points after she was played in by Lorna Joyce. Mayo responded almost instantly when they won the ball from the resulting kick-out and Staunton was played in down the MacHale Road side of the ground and she slotted over from a tight angle. The next score of the game was the first major of the game and it was goal fit to grace a provincial final, Cathriona Cormican picked up the ball from Annette Clarke and took on a gaggle of Mayo defenders before she arrowed her shot to the bottom corner of the net past the outstretch arm of Mayo custodian, Yvonne Byrne. A minute later, Byrne pulled off a smart save from Louise Ward and the Hollymount goalkeeper, had a good afternoon by-in-large, expect for one misguided solo run from goal in the second half.

Galway kicked the next four points of the game without response with Annette Clarke kicking two from frees with Cormican and Lorna Joyce getting in on the act to leave their side 1-5 to 0-1 up after 17 minutes. Cora Staunton responded with three points in a row for Mayo, before she set up Anna Tuohy for the Mayo goal. Staunton won a ball driven in by Grace Kelly after the hop beat her marker, she made a beeline for goal and drew out Johanna Connolly from the Galway goal,before she hand-passed it into the path of Tuohy who palmed the ball to the back of the net and cut the game to a single point. There was still a few minutes left in the first half, but it was Galway who kicked on again before the turn around with Barbra Hannon, Lucy Hannon and Aoibheann Daly all adding on points with Mayo only able to tag on a long range Staunton effort before the break. The Tribeswomen went in leading by 1-8 to 1-5 at the break and Mayo would have been very happy to be that close to their opponents going in to the dressing room.

Mayo were the first to raise a white flag in the second half, with Staunton getting in behind the defence, but she drove her effort high and over the bar. Annette Clarke responded for the Tribeswomen with another deadball effort three minutes in and this was quickly followed by a point from her midfield partner Ger Conneally to stretch the gap back out to four points between the sides. Grace Kelly hit back with a very good point for Mayo after a barreling run from the left wing into a more favorable shooting position. But no matter how much Mayo huffed and puffed they couldn't make enough inroads past a teak tough Galway defence led by Emer Flaherty, Sinead Burke and Mairead Coyne. Clarke's fourth point from a free, eight minutes in kept the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors and they stretched their lead out to six points by the 11th minute of the second half thanks to other scores from Louise Ward and Clarke. Mayo kept plugging away, but every-time they closed the gap a little Galway found the extra little push they needed to keep their noses out of danger. Mayo did go looking for goals late on but they weren't really able to create any proper openings, bar the one time Staunton got herself back inside the cover only to see Johanna Connolly pull off a smart save.

The conclusion of the game was held up for a number of minutes following an unfortunate clash between Galway team-mates Orla Dixon and Sinead Burke, which required both ladies to need a attention on the field and to be replaced before the end. Even having to play the last ten minutes of the game with 14 players after Rebecca McPhilbin was sin-binned failed to knock the Tribesmen out of their stride.

Scores:

Mayo: C Staunton (0-11, 5f ), Anna Tuohy (1-0 ), Grace Kelly (0-1 )

Galway: A Clarke (0-5, 5f ), C Cormican (1-1 ), B Hannon (0-3 ), L Ward (0-3 ), L Joyce (0-1 ), L Hannon (0-1 ), A Daly (0-1 ), G Conneally (0-1 )

Mayo: Y Byrne; M Corbett, H Lohan, A Bell; M Naughton, C Connolly, M Carter; C Egan, S Tierney; K Sullivan, F McHale, G Kelly; D Doherty, A Tuohy, C Staunton. Subs: F Doherty for M Naughton, P Coyle for A Tuohy, D Hughes for D Doherty.

Galway:J Connolly; N Ward, M Coyne, O Dixon; R McPhilbin, E Flaherty, S Burke; A Clarke, G Conneally; A Daly, C Cormican, B Hannon; L Hannon, L Joyce, L Ward. Subs: O Divilly for A Daly, E Gannon for L Hannon, N Connolly for O Dixon, M Maloney for S Burke.

Ref: G Chapman (Sligo )

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