AHEAD of this clash, the bookies had Galway priced 1/33 to emerge victorious over 2015 intermediate champions Waterford on Saturday. So when the final whistle sounded, it was merely a case of “job done” for the Tribeswomen.
There was a distinct gulf in class between the sides over the course of the 60 minutes, but Galway should be praised for the cutthroat and clinical manner about how they went about their business.
The Galway attack was absolutely breath-taking at times and their ability to carve open the Deise defence at will and land an astounding 28 scores from play was highly impressive.
The full-forward line of Noreen Coen, Ailish O’Reilly and Mullagh livewire Aoife Donohue clocked up a mammoth combined total of 4-16, in an exceptionally economical Galway performance which yielded just six wides over the course of the contest.
Waterford deployed a sweeper in an effort to curb the Galway attacking unit, but time and again Galway carved open their defence with a combination of pace, power and guile that was as good as you will see on any field in the country.
The opening half was played at a frenetic pace and after just one minute Aoife Donohue had Galway in front with a point from distance. Less than a minute later, an Ailish O’Reilly free doubled her side’s advantage and Galway looked like they were cruising.
Waterford however, were first to raise a green flag. A high cross field ball into the opposition danger area from Katherina McGlone was fielded by corner forward, Becky Kavanagh, who struck from the edge of the small rectangle leaving Sarah Healy with no chance in the Galway goal.
It only took two minutes from Galway to reply in kind, courtesy of St Thomas’ attacker Finola Keely, who found herself in space after receiving a pass inside the Waterford 21 yard line before blasting low and hard into the net from an acute angle.
O’Reilly and Waterford’s chief threat Niamh Rockett followed this up by trading points, before O’Reilly opened her goal account for the day. A precise long ball from the tireless Ann-Marie Starr landed over the head of the Waterford full-back into the path of O’Reilly, who found herself one-v-one with the keeper and she made no mistake with a cool finish.
For the remainder of the half, points were coming thick and fast and unfortunately for the Waterford cause they were conceding most of them with Maria Cooney, Niamh McGrath, Ann-Marie Starr, Noreen Coen, Aoife Donohue and Niamh Kilkenny all landing scores to leave the scoreline at 3-16 to 1-7 at half-time, leaving the game as good as over.
The Galway third goal arrived right before half-time from Ailish O’Reilly, it was a goal which epitomised the entire Galway performance throughout.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.