Galway ladies face daunting test against the Rebels

Galway’s Aine McDonagh who has brought fresh energy to their displays since being called up to the county squad this year.

GALWAY’S ladies footballers face a mammoth task in Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Saturday when they look to dethrone the seven-in-a-row title chasing Cork and progress to the last four in the TG4 senior ladies football championship, (throw in, 12.30pm).

Having already exacted revenge on Mayo to claim a fifth Connacht title in six years, most would have expected the Tribeswomen to be rewarded somewhat and draw one of the perceived weaker counties in the last eight, but it wasn’t to be, and if Galway are to go on and challenge for this year’s All Ireland title, they will have to do it the hard way.

The position Stephen Glennon’s charges find themselves in must feel like a case of déja vu, as two years ago, having defeated Mayo to win Connacht, Galway drew Cork in the All Ireland quarter-final, after the Rebelettes surprisingly slipped up in Munster.

Cork would go on to win that day by two points, 1-12 to 1-10, and subsequently claimed yet another Brendan Martin Cup. This time around Galway will no doubt be eager to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

The size of the task facing Galway though is immense. Were they to defeat Cork on Saturday, it would only be Cork’s second defeat in knockout championship football in 13 years, a frightening statistic. They have set the bar for the rest of the country since the mid noughties and since their first All Ireland triumph in 2005, they have only once failed to walk up the steps of the Hogan stand in September to collect the winner’s trophy.

Galway, however cannot be distracted by the achievements of their illustrious opponents. When at their best, the Tribeswomen play a hugely entertaining brand of football that is almost impossible to counteract, even for Cork. The challenge faced by the players and management this weekend is to get a performance for 60 plus minutes, something they struggled with against Mayo.

“We really took the game to them (Mayo) but with all that, it’s very hard to sustain that kind of game that we play for the 60 minutes and that told in the second half. When Mayo got a foothold in the game they showed that they’re not a Division 1 team for nothing. They had their chances as well so we’re conscious of that. We’re far from the finished article,” manager Stephen Glennon said.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Glennon is under no illusions about the challenge his side face. Cork have proven match winners all over the field and that, along with the experience they possess and their ability to get over the line in a tight game makes them almost the complete package.

“Cork have huge volumes of experience. They’re very structured in the way they play in that they can get players behind the ball but they’re not ultra-defensive at the same time. The thing about Cork is every single one of them are good ball players and in many cases on any given day 1 to 15, they’re the best in their position in the country so there’s probably a greater degree of trust there, greater degree of belief that they don’t have to go ultra-defensive like other teams do or engage in one sweeper, two sweepers.”

Full preview in this week’s GalwayCity Tribune.