GALWAY came out the wrong side of a bruising physical battle on Sunday in the Ladies National Football League as two late Geraldine McLoughlin points gave Donegal the spoils.
In truth, the damage was done in the first half when the Tribeswomen struggled to get to the pace of the contest as goals from Niamh Hegarty and McLaughlin put Michael Naughton’s team eight points ahead before an Ailbhe Davoren green flag finally kick-started the Galway challenge.
The hosts were completely transformed after the break and finally got their noses ahead when Olivia Divilly converted in the seventh minute of added time. But referee Gerry Carmody found time for two more minutes and McLaughlin ensured the visitors went home the winners.
Analysing this second round league tie, Donegal were deserving of a result but that only began to tell the tale. It’s a pity Donegal vetoed a Pearse Stadium double header as both teams deserved to be displayed to a wider audience, but a decent crowd still chose the ladies over their men counterparts.
The game wasn’t without its talking points. Both teams saw players sinbinned while other challenges went unpunished. And Galway supporters had a major gripe when Niamh Hegarty pointed on 57 minutes after Niamh Duggan went down to an injury that put her out of the game.
Galway are All-Ireland contenders, but they’ll need to make life easier for themselves if they are going to improve on last year’s campaign when Donegal ended their championship ambitions. Last week, they left Mayo in a tie they should have won easier. On Sunday, they handed the visitors a headstart.
Donegal looked the sharper unit and took the game to their opponents. A poor Galway kick out resulted in McLaughlin shooting wide. And on three minutes, Dearbhla Gower was forced into a crucial save from Paula McGrory.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.