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O’Connell’s charges make light of disruption surrounding All-Ireland final

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From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

O’Connell’s charges make light of disruption surrounding All-Ireland final O’Connell’s charges make light of disruption surrounding All-Ireland final

By DARREN KELLY

“IT’S unreal! It’s the stuff of dreams,” said Salthill/ Knocknacarra captain Ailbhe Finnerty after leading her club to a first ever All-Ireland Junior Ladies Football title on Saturday.

“You dream about this for years. I’m just delighted. I think I’m the only one in my family now that actually has gotten over the line and won an All-Ireland. That will be a tough one at the Christmas dinner table this year,” also joked the daughter of Mayo legend Anthony and sister of current Galway star Rob.

Salthill/Knocknacarra’s players were in great form after a historic 1-7 to 0-4 victory over Cork’s Naomh Abán. “It was very much a case of regroup, reset and try not to let it get to us,” added Finnerty when asked about the late change of venue before throw-in. “We’d said all along that if it went to astro, astro would suit us.

“Both teams wanted the game played today so we were just delighted to get on with it. It would have been very unsettling for us if the game had been put off at that stage. It just drove us on even more.”

Even though they led throughout the game, it was Alyssa Manley’s goal in the final minute of normal time that finally determined that Salthill/Knocknacarra would carry the day.

“To be honest, I got lost in the time,” said Manley. “When he (referee) blew the final whistle, I was like ‘wait, is that actually the end of it.’ I was ready to go, however, long we needed to just to actually get the win in the end.”

Manley only took up the game two years ago after moving to Ireland with her partner. The former hockey Olympian relished a new challenge and was delighted how it paid off.

“My family is so blown away from what I’m doing here, playing football,” added the former US defender.  “My people back home as well. It is cool. It’s so different to anything I’ve done.

“Football, it’s an incredible sport. It’s a great game and I wish it was more spread out throughout the world. It really shows the resilience of the team that we have here,” continued Manley about her team mates.  “The coaching staff, they put so much in. The girls, we’ve listened so well to the coaches.

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

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