A stirring comeback in the final 20 minutes came up just short for Galway’s senior camogie team at the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday as Cork held on to book a September showdown with Kilkenny.
First half goals from Aoife Murray and Orla Cotter gave the Rebelettes a 2-6 to 0-6 interval advantage before they stretched that margin to eight as Galway malfunctioned in attack and allowed their Munster opponents to dictate the terms.
But their courage to refuse accept defeat allowed Mark Dunne’s charges to come back with Niamh Hanniffy getting a priceless 48th minute major, bringing them within one score. But missed opportunities plus some big decisions against them proved their undoing.
The maroon and white did prove they are still a top team but when the reflecting and post mortems are done on this hour in Limerick, they will be filled with regret. Despite not playing to their best for the opening 40 minutes, this All-Ireland semi-final was still very winnable.
Galway’s comeback wasn’t helped by some big calls from referee Eamon Cassidy. The most notable was when two Cork players collided after a stunning Niamh Hanniffy pluck from the sky before the whistle blew to hold up play.
One can’t criticise the official for airing caution when he feared head injuries. It was the second time Cork players ran into each other with Gemma O’Connor forced to leave the field after an earlier collision with Ashling Thompson.
But when an attempted Niamh Kilkenny attack saw her run into Thompson and go down, play continued for over 90 seconds. Frustration stemming from this incident carried over to Hanniffy’s catch that would have almost certainly producing a crucial score.
In added time, Galway were very unlucky not to receive a free, even a penalty, when Niamh McGrath appeared to have her arm pulled by a Cork defender. Such breaks are crucial in the closing stages and the Tribeswomen just couldn’t catch one.
But then again, they shouldn’t have needed to. Cork were slightly the better outfit taking the 60 minutes into account, but Galway missed many decent chances.
And even though they rallied in the closing stages, Galway still only managed one score from play. But while some players underperformed on the field, management also can’t be absolved either, making only two changes.
It started brightly as Orlaith McGrath opened the scoring on four minutes but Cork already threatened when Katrina Mackey hand passed off the crossbar. An Orla Cotter free gave the Rebelettes their opener before a poor Sarah Healy puck out was sent straight back over the bar by Orla Cronin.
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.