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Cora Staunton has been the difference between Mayo winning and losing games on countless occasions down through the years, and last weekend the Carancon ace was once again the one who delivered when they needed it most.
St Brendan’s Park, in Birr, will host the next stage of the Mayo ladies’ senior team’s road towards a fifth All Ireland senior title and a first in a decade. On Saturday at 12.30pm they will face off against Kerry in the All Ireland quarter-final having seen off Westmeath with ease in the last round of qualifiers after they were beaten by Galway in the Connacht final in Tuam.
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.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, Mayo were the dominant force in ladies’ football, winning all before and behind them. While Mayo slipped down the pecking order over the past decade, Cork stepped up and grabbed the top spot in the pecking order and have remained there more or less ever since.
Mayo will face a familiar foe on Sunday when they renew their acquaintance with Monaghan in the Tesco Homegrown National Football League division one semi-final. The girls from the Farney county are going into the game with a 100 per cent record from their seven league games so far this season, which includes a win over Mayo back in March in Aughnamullen where they came out 1-15 to 2-6 winners in a re-fixed game from earlier in the spring.
Mayo overcame Dublin in a tense encounter at Naomh Mearnog last Sunday to book their place in the league semi-final. Mayo were the quickest to settle and they had two points on the board before Dublin were able to get any sustained possession thanks to good scores from Aileen Gilroy and Niamh Kelly who benefited from great work by Claire Egan. Dublin’s first score came from Lindsey Davey who struck a good point on the run but again Mayo replied well with a great score from corner back Kathryn Sullivan. However Dublin settled thanks to the growing influence of Noelle Healy in the Dublin midfield. Healy scored two points herself as Denise McKenna added two points from frees, and Leah McCaffrey added a fine score after turning over Mayo in their own half back line. However Mayo replied well with the half time whistle fast approaching, scoring the last two points of the half, one from Aileen Gilroy and another from Deirdre Doherty to leave the scores at half time Dublin 0-6 to Mayo’s 0-5.
The Mayo ladies’ senior side will look to build on their good start to the National Football League when they welcome Clare on Sunday at 2pm. New Mayo manager Fr Mike Murphy and his charges got off to a perfect start when they saw off the challenge of local rivals Galway on a scoreline of 3-14 to 1-7 in Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Cora Staunton was once again the go to person bagging 2-9 of Mayo’s total over the 60 minutes of action. Staunton grabbed her first goal just before the interval and converted her second from the penalty spot after Yvonne Byrne was fouled in the aftermath of a good move involving Staunton, Kathryn Sullivan, and Sinead Murphy. Mayo’s third goal came from the boot of Martha Carter who drove home her major with a snap shot from the 30 metre line.
Galway Ladies opened their National Football League campaign with a 3-14 to 1-7 defeat at the hands of Connacht rivals Mayo at Tuam Stadium on Sunday.
The Connacht senior football semi-final win over Sligo was the first step on the road to redemption for the Mayo ladies senior football team after a very poor run in the National Football which saw them go winless over the whole campaign. Jason Tanniane took over a team which had its difficulties, but with a championship win under their belt now he looks to have the team moving in the right direction. The win over Sligo was backboned by a number of old familiar names who have battled valiantly in the green and red for what seems like years now, Yvonne Byrne, Cora Staunton, Claire Egan, Fiona McHale and Martha Carter have all seen the highs with Mayo in the past and their experience will once again be invaluable on Sunday afternoon when they face the old enemy Galway in the Connacht Senior Football Championship final.
While the men only secured their division one status last weekend, the Mayo ladies’ team had a league quarter final under their belt already and were deep in preparations for this weekend’s semi-final. Laois will make the trip to Aghamore on Sunday afternoon at 3pm to try and stop Mayo making their way into their second national league final in three years. Wins over Donegal, Kerry and Armagh along with a draw against this weekend’s opponents Laois in the group stage, set up a taxing quarter final encounter away to Clare a fortnight ago which has put Kevin Reidy’s side into the semi-final.