IT wasn’t a performance that will deliver an All-Ireland but for an opening round contest, Galway got off to the perfect start last Saturday in this year’s All-Ireland senior camogie championship with victory over thetitle holders.
After seven weeks inactive, the league champions showed the signs of rustiness but when required, they dug deep for four late scores after an eighth minute Molly Dune goal helped to give them a first opening day win since 2012.
Trailing by 0-12 to 1-7, two Niamh McGrath frees levelled the teams for the seventh time before Niamh Kilkenny finished off a move involving Shauna Healy and Ailish O’Reilly for the lead in the 60th minute. And when Jessica Gill picked a clean catch to set up Kilkenny, Galway won a free which McGrath converted to complete a second win this season over the Rebellettes.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad Galway performance. Susan Earner produced two match saving saves; Sarah Dervan excelled at full back with Siobhan Coen highlighting a healthy future; Healy grew into the contest; the Tribeswomen have an industrious half-forward line as Aoife Donohue, McGrath and Anne Marie Starr never reneged from work; and Gill showed signs that her best days are returning.
In a repeat of the league final, Cork had five changes with established stars Aoife Murray, Gemma O’Connor and Briege Corkery taking their places. Orla Cotter opened the scoring with a free after 43 seconds but Cork’s threat down the middle was evident early. On four minutes, Katriona Mackey and Corkery combined to open up space but Dervan perfectly read the pass to the unmarked Amy O’Connor that would have left Earner exposed.
Galway had a goal opportunity in the seventh minute when Starr’s run caused problems but successive efforts from herself and Gill were denied. Yet there was no denying Dunne 60 seconds later when she produced great skill to lob Laura Treacy before her groundstroke beat Aoife Murray and trickled over the line inside the left post.
It was setting up for a repeat of the end-to-end league decider with Cork forcing an crucial save from Earner in the ninth minute before white flags from Cotter, Orla Cronin and Corkery allowed Paudie Murray’s team a 0-4 to 1-0 advantage on the quarter hour.
Galway’s lack of fluidity was evident as nerves and that two month break were showing. But when in possession, they were productive with Gill and Starr winning frees that McGrath converted. Cotter levelled affairs before McGrath pointed from play after taking O’Reilly’s pass. A three player Cork move followed finished by Cronin to leave it 1-3 to 0-6 on 23 minutes.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.