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Galway’s camogie Queen reigns supreme at last!

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IT has been one of the longest coronations – and she may even, at times, have lost faith that it would ever happen – but in the end, The Queen, as Galway camogie great Therese Maher is fondly known, finally got to take her rightful place on the throne.

It would have been a travesty if Athenry stalwart Maher, who has been a leading light for both club and county for almost two decades, had to see out her days without the opportunity to lay her hands on the O’Duffy Cup.

No state secret, this meant the world to Maher and when her team-mates and management descended upon her in the moments following the Tribeswomen’s 1-9 to 0-7 victory over Kilkenny, briefly, all the wrongs in the world were put right. This was justice.

Her smile said it all and while, underneath the relief she was experiencing must have been delightfully enveloping the years of hurt and disappointment that had tormented her from those five previous All-Ireland defeats, Maher continued to maintain that composure, regal reserve and dignity that has won the hearts of all in Galway camogie and further afield.

“With any given year, you have to believe you are going to win. I don’t think there is any point coming back up here [to Croke Park] if you don’t believe that you are going to win, irrespective of the team that you are playing and that is no disrespect to them,” said Maher.

“We were defeated early on in the championship by Kilkenny but it was the first game. Then, game after game after game, you kind of build momentum and we believed we were going to win today. I know it wasn’t a classic out there but I didn’t mind if it was two points to one or five points to two, we wanted a win and we needed to win for Galway camogie. We got a double here today and we are just thrilled.”

When asked what was the difference between this team and the others that had agonisingly lost All-Ireland finals previously, Maher agreed with the sentiments expressed by captain Lorraine Ryan that this victory was borne out of great friendships.

“Both senior and intermediate teams, we got on great. When we were training, we were serious and we trained hard, but outside of that we had the fun as well. Our focus was on each game.

“It wasn’t about the bigger picture: the All-Ireland final. It was game on game and today we were focused on this as being another game, albeit it was an All-Ireland final, but we were just taking it as another step in the ladder to get the medal that we have been looking to win for so long.”

Another who had waited a life-time for that elusive O’Duffy Cup win was Sinead Cahalan. A lot like Maher, she had experienced her fair share of disappointment and regret. “I still can’t believe this; that we are actually after winning it. It is just everything we felt when we lost has been turned on the complete other side and made it all worthwhile. I am just so happy and so delighted for everyone.”

She, too, maintained the friendships and the advantage of having both seniors and intermediates train together were pivotal to Galway’s successes and she also paid tribute to Tony Ward and his management team of trainer Liam Hodgins and selectors Declan Walsh, Orla Watson and Seamie Crowe.

“It was great to have the panel matches with the two teams, particularly as the intermediates were very competitive as well. It was a great incentive for them to be pushing on to make the senior panel or the senior team. It worked well.

“In fairness to the management, you have to take your hat off to them because it was an unbelievable challenge to try to accommodate and cater for 53 girls and look after them and make sure that they were injury free and had hurls and everything. It was endless. They must be so exhausted.”

In any event, the proverbial monkey is off the back of Galway camogie now. “Exactly,” glowed Cahalan. “That is exactly how it feels. I couldn’t have taken another loss. The monkey is off the back now and we can retire or do whatever we want to do at this stage. Some of us aren’t able for much more. All we ever wanted was one All-Ireland and it is magic. It’s just great. Such a feeling!”

One of the striking things about this All-Ireland senior win was the unity of purpose between the older and younger players – a balance that can be so difficult to achieve – but centre-half forward Niamh McGrath, one of the younger players, said it was never an issue.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s U20s aim to halt Cork’s All-Ireland hurling treble in its tracks

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Galway’s Sean McDonagh who will be crucial to their hopes of overcoming Cork in Tuesday's All-Ireland U20 hurling final at Semple Stadium.

THE Rebels are on the march and have a clean sweep of the senior, U20 and minor All-Ireland hurling titles in their sights – but Galway U20s have the opportunity of stopping resurgent Cork’s treble quest in the first of those deciders at Semple Stadium on Tuesday (7.30pm).

Jeffrey Lynskey’s charges gained revenge on Dublin in the recent Leinster Final and will be seeking the county’s first title at this level since 2011.

Galway are the outsiders to carry the day, but will be looking to the likes of team captain Seán Neary, Ian McGlynn, Seán McDonagh, Donal O’Shea, Oisín Flannery and John Cooney to lead the way.

Meanwhile, the county minors will also set up an All-Ireland Final against Cork if they ovecome Kilkenny in tomorrow evening’s (Friday, 7.30pm) semi-final in Thurles.

See full previews in Tribune Sport, part of 18 pages of coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin show no mercy in thrashing hapless Oughterard

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Corofin 7-17
Oughterard 0-11

IS there anything to be said for splitting Corofin in two? We jest, of course, but the Dublin-like dominance of the North Galway club on the local scene in the past decade shows no sign of abating.
A new championship, a new-look team, but the same old classy Corofin who were in seventh heaven after bagging a record seven goals in their 27-points victory over hapless Oughterard.
That Kevin O’Brien could spring dual county star, Daithi Burke, and Galway senior footballer Ian Burke, as second-half substitutes when the game was over as a contest, highlights the embarrassment of riches in the Corofin camp.
Nine of Corofin’s starters were on the starting 15 that won an historic three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles in January, but the introduction of former Galway minor Matthew Cooley, who scored a goal off the bench on his senior club debut, highlighted, too, how they have young talent coming through.
Leaving aside the lack of resistance, particularly in the second half, the ruthless manner in which Corofin annihilated their Connemara opponents was frightening for all other pretenders to the throne.
As warnings go, this was savage, as Corofin signalled their intent about securing an eighth successive county title, with a clinical brushing aside of an Oughterard outfit whose heads-dropped early. Corofin had 11 different scorers, including seven goal scorers; all bar one of their 17 points, were from play.
Darragh Silke who finished with 1-7, ran riot in the second half, and was the game’s best performer, and Micheál Lundy (1-3) proved a handful on the inside line, but Corofin had quality dotted all over the field, and in truth, won without clicking into high gear.
If things went their way in the opening half, Oughterard’s spirits might not have been drained so soon, but they failed to convert the chances they had.
That was the big difference in the first half-hour: Corofin converted 10 out of 10 scoring opportunities that presented themselves, whereas Oughterard hit five wides, including two shots that should at the very least have troubled goalkeeper Bernard Power.
For Oughterard, this will cut deep. The 2019 All-Ireland intermediate winners were unbeaten in championship last season but got a rude awakening on their re-introduction to senior. Their first championship match back in senior in nearly 20 years, and they’re annihilated. To add to the embarrassment, it was televised live on TG4 for all to see.
It was effectively over at half-time, but it shouldn’t have been. Oughterard had enough of the play, and enough chances, to be still in with a shout at the change of ends and they just failed to punish their more ruthless opponents.

Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Ó Fatharta lauds minor squad for response to Mayo reversal

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GALWAY minor football manager Dónal Ó Fátharta has praised his young charges for the manner in which they responded to their Connacht final defeat to Mayo.

Ó Fátharta’s squad turned on the style when taking down Leinster champions Kildare in their All-Ireland quarter-final at Pearse Park, Longford last weekend to set up a semi-final meeting against a Kerry outfit chasing an incredible six-in-a-row of titles at this grade.

However, the Galway manager admitted he was concerned initially as to how his players would respond to the provincial final loss to Mayo. “After the Connacht final, the guys were down. We gave them a week off, which we were going to do anyways. When they came back in for our meeting and the usual stuff, I was worried, but, after that meeting, I wasn’t worried. I was hopeful.

“For the last two weeks, they have worked hard. We played Dublin in a challenge and it was one of those games of 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. We were very sharp that night. That reinforced it for me that there was a performance in these guys. The next challenge is a game in Croke Park, which is another step up, but I am delighted that they are there and they have that opportunity.”

Indeed, Ó Fátharta described his players’ display against Kildare as “a complete performance”, noting: “Structurally, I think we were very good. I think we took our chances, and we did everything that we talk about doing every day. They took their chances when they had to; they worked hard; they put in shifts, and all that sort of stuff. So, we are delighted with the performance.”

See full report and reaction in Connacht Tribune Sport.

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