Depleted Galway squad face tough task against the Cats in Banagher

Galway camogie manager Tony O’Donovan whose team face Kilkenny in the National League semi-final on Sunday.
Galway camogie manager Tony O’Donovan whose team face Kilkenny in the National League semi-final on Sunday.

ALTHOUGH still without the Sarsfields and Athenry players, Galway senior camogie boss Tony O’Donovan believes there is still the talent there to challenge holders Kilkenny in their National League semi-final in Banagher on Sunday (2pm).

Despite operating with just 19 outfield players at present, the Tribeswomen have shown great resilience to qualify for the knockout stages. Not surprisingly, new manager O’Donovan is full of praise for his charges.

“The group we have, they have been responding well to training. There is still a lot of talent there – there are All-Ireland winners in the squad – and they have been helping along the newer, younger girls in the panel. So, it has been working well in that respect.

“Also, every girl has played so far. Every girl has made a contribution. Every girl has stepped up to the mark. We also have three goalkeepers and we have been trying to use them as well. So, it is going to be a big headache down the line when the other players return, particularly the way those who are there now are playing. The way they have gone about things has been very positive.”

Aside from an opening day 0-13 to 1-3 defeat to All-Ireland champions Cork, the under-strength Tribeswomen did remarkably well to win their three ensuing games against Tipperary, Offaly and Wexford.

A 2-14 to 1-10 victory over Tipperary in their second league game would have imbued them with a measure of confidence and they subsequently carried this through in their successes over Offaly (3-11 to 0-11) and Wexford (2-16 to 4-8).

Over the group stages, Donovan has rotated the goalkeeping position between Shauna Burke and Caitriona Daly while Tara Murphy is another goalkeeper currently in with the squad. The defence, though, has a more settled look, with captain Sarah Dervan and Shauna Healy anchoring the full-back and centre-half back positions respectively.

2017 captain Heather Cooney and 2013 All-Ireland winning captain Lorraine Ryan also add a huge amount of experience to the Galway rearguard. Roisin Black and Emma Helebert look set to fill the remaining two berths, especially after Siobhan Coen recently sustained yet another cruciate injury.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.