Galway’s great run against Cork ends in disappointing semi-final defeat

Cork 0-15

Galway 2-6

WHAT the Galway camogie team had been doing under manager Cathal Murray was bucking tradition. Eight matches; seven wins; one draw; and no defeat against Cork. It was a trend which couldn’t last forever and was under threat from the law of averages alone.

And that occasion came to pass when the Tribeswomen produced one of their least compelling displays under Murray by falling to the determined Rebels in a rain-marred All-Ireland Senior semi-final at Nowlan Park on Saturday.

A healthy crowd of over 7,250 turned up to see the semi-final double bill, but most of the juicy camogie came in the opening joust where Waterford surprised Tipperary to quality for the county’s first All-Ireland Final since the nineteen-forties.

Having overcome Cork in the National League Final last April, Galway would have been in good heart in attempting to extend their great run against their Munster rivals, but they rarely hit the expected heights in demanding slippery underfoot conditions.

Some basic statistics tell an illuminating story of Galway’s woes. They didn’t score until the 12th minute; Carrie Dolan only managed to convert her first free in the 38th minute; and they had only three scorers in amassing a disappointing tally of 2-6.

It was not a day for fluent or swashbuckling camogie, but some of Galway’s play was not up to scratch for this level. They were typically committed in a semi-final in which they never led, but sufficient sparks of inspiration were missing.

Certainly, the efforts of Roisín Black, Áine Keane, Aoife Donohue, Rachael Hanniffy (second half), Ailish O’Reilly (first half) and two-goal Siobhán McGrath kept Galway in the hunt but, honestly, on the run of play they were lucky to be only beaten three points.

Perhaps, Galway could have been a bit quicker to turn to their bench in trying to ignite their team and it was probably unjustified to yank off one of their league final heroes, Sabina Rabbitte, in stoppage time after being introduced in the 33rd minute.

That was a telling difference between the teams – the impact of the respective substitutes. Cork saw three of their reserves landing crucial second half points, with the impressive Cliona Hayes accounting for two of them.

Given their string of recent negative results against Galway, Cork’s mental fortitude would have been really tested when they conceded an avoidable second goal to McGrath in the 47th minute after their custodian Fiona Ryan was turned over from a Hanniffy delivery.

That green flag left Galway just a point adrift, 0-11 to 2-4, and we presumed would re-open some mental scare for the ladies in red but, significantly, Cork held firm in admirably recovering from that blow.

Pictured is Galway’s Dervla Higgins is about to be challenged by Katrina Mackey of Cork during Saturday’s All-Ireland Senior Camogie semi-final at Nowlan Park. Photos: INPHO/Tom Maher.


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