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Women in Sport

12th Aug 2019

“It has been my most enjoyable year coaching any team” – Mayo on track and the ladies football wrap


Compiled by Darragh Small and Declan Rooney

Galway 1-12 Waterford 2-4

Galway manager Tim Rabbitt has urged his players to use the hurt of past defeats to end their silverware drought.

Galway haven’t won the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship since 2004, but they are back in the last four again where they face rivals Mayo, following Saturday’s 1-12 to 2-4 victory over Waterford at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.

Galway will face Connacht rivals Mayo for the third time this year, and Rabbitt knows it will be a huge fixture at Croke Park on 25 August.

“It’s a fantastic occasion for the girls to be getting up to Croke Park,” said Rabbitt.

“Galway supporters have been great all year long and we will be asking them to come out. No doubt Mayo will have a big crowd at it. We lost the semi-final last year. We know what that will be like although it will be a unique occasion in Croke Park.

“I was with the girls last year when we were beaten so I know what it is like to lose a semi-final as well.

“It is a nowhere position because at least if you get to the final you are there on the biggest day of the year. It will be very important we put in a big performance.”

Galway had beaten Kerry and Westmeath since their Connacht final victory over Mayo at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. They were expected to negotiate this hurdle too but the rain fell in a deluge in the first half and made it very difficult for the players.

Galway still held a narrow 1-6 to 1-4 lead at half-time. They were 1-4 to 0-2 ahead afterTracey Leonard scored her goal in the 18th minute, but Aileen Wall struck back eight minutes later.

However Waterford were restricted to Wall’s second goal after half-time while Galway hit 0-6 with Sarah Conneally rounding off the scoring.

“I couldn’t take away from us, the amount of heart, the effort, the tracking, hassling and tackling we did,” said Rabbitt.

“We really had to dig in today in these conditions. It wasn’t a day for nice football.

“I would be really proud of the girls.”

Waterford had hammered Monaghan en route to the final but they found reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin too strong in the round robin.

Galway were similarly impressive here and Waterford manager Ciaran Curran believes there was a gulf in class in the second half.

“In the first half we were right in it,” said Curran. “We caused trouble for them going forward and it was a 50-50 game.

“In the second half, in fairness, Galway were the better team. They were deserved winners.

“We didn’t score enough but we didn’t create enough scoring chances.”


Mayo 2-12 Armagh 1-12

Mayo manager Peter Leahy says his players continue to grow as a unit as they booked their place in a TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final.

The 2017 beaten All-Ireland finalists were knocked out at this stage last year but moved into the final four after a narrow victory over Armagh at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford.

Maria Reilly and Sarah Rowe fired the goals in either half and Mayo set up a rematch of the replayed Connacht final with Galway, who were also victorious on Saturday.

Mayo had a difficult 2018 but have bounced back this year and after wins against Tyrone and Donegal in the round robin they are just 60 minutes away from an All-Ireland final.

“It is good to be back in Croke Park,” said Leahy. “There has been a lot of tribulation over the last couple of years for Mayo.

“This is a journey for the girls. We did a video for them recently about their journey. Every team has a point where it becomes a new team. We became a new team last year after all that happened.

“We are an open book. Warts, cuts and all we just get on with it. It has been my most enjoyable year coaching any team.”

Mayo dominated the opening quarter of the game but only took a 1-7 to 0-7 lead into half-time. 

The Connacht finalists were 0-6 to 0-1 ahead after just nine minutes with Rowe, Grace Kelly, Sinéad Cafferky, Niamh Kelly, Rachel Kearns and Clodagh McManamon all on target. 

But Armagh rallied before half-time backed by the brilliant Caroline O’Hanlon who was deployed on the edge of the square.

Crucially Reilly found the net when she was set up by Grace Kelly and Mayo were in front at half-time. 

Armagh were fresh off a shock win over Cork and they took a 1-10 to 1-9 lead when Kelly Mallon found the net in the 41st minute.

Mayo were forced to react and Rowe burst through for a key goal just two minutes later. 

Full-back Danielle Caldwell go forward to score and Mayo held off the Armagh challenge late on.

Armagh were looking to reach their first All-Ireland semi-final since 2015 and they came within inches of doing that.

“We are bitterly disappointed,” said Lorraine McCaffrey, who stepped down as Armagh joint-manager along with Fionnuala McAtamney after the defeat.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game. We expected that and we just fell on the wrong side of that. The goals that they got at key times cost us.”


Round up


Cavan manager James Daly expressed his satisfaction after the Breffni County secured their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship for 2020 and took the honours against Westmeath in the Relegation Qualifier at Kinnegad.

First-half goals from Ciara Finnegan and Lauren McVeety put Cavan on the road to victory, while Aisling Maguire’s penalty after the restart sealed the win for the Ulster side.

The loss for Westmeath means they now must beat Monaghan in next week’s Senior Relegation Final, with the loser set for a return to Intermediate football next season.

“We played a really good game today. We deserved the win and we’re happy that our season has ended today,” said Daly.

“We started pretty well and got the first three points but then got caught on a counter and they got a goal, but we pushed on.

“Our girls were a wee bit annoyed to miss out on the quarter-final after we beat Armagh and Cork lost to them after they rested some of their top players.

“The only way to sort that out was to go out and win today and we did that. We knew we’d need a top game against Westmeath and thankfully we delivered.”

Westmeath had gotten off to a bright start in this game when Grace Halligan gave them an early lead, but Daly’s side were not to be denied and they powered their way to a convincing half-time lead.

Finnegan was sharpest to the rebound when Aishling Sheridan’s shot hit the crossbar to score the opening goal, while they were good value for their 2-8 to 1-3 half-time lead after McVeety scored their second.

The point scoring of Leanne Slevin kept Westmeath in touch, and they were given renewed hope when Sarah Lynch was sin-binned after 41 minutes, but instead Cavan powered on to the win, with Maguire’s penalty four minutes from time the clinching score.

Meanwhile, Leitrim and Laois will play their 2020 football in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship after they recorded victories in their respective relegation play-offs.

Leitrim were 6-12 to 3-14 winners over Wicklow, who have dropped down to the Junior grade as a result, while former Senior champions Laois claimed a 3-21 to 3-5 win over Limerick. Last year’s Junior Champions Limerick make an immediate return to the third tier after that result.

Leitrim were well in control of this game in Kinnegad at half-time, although Wicklow came strong in the final quarter, but after two goals from Michelle Heslin and one each from midfield duo Eilish O’Dowd and Laura O’Dowd Leitrim were not to be denied.

In Cahir it appeared as if Limerick could stun Laois when they hit the net in the 11th minute, but faced with the real prospect of the drop, Laois stormed back into a 2-12 to 1-3 half-time lead, which proved the winning of the game.

Elsewhere, Fermanagh secured their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship semi-final with a convincing 1-16 to 1-6 win over Derry in Devenish.

Derry had started well and led after 16 minutes, but Eimear Smyth lifted Fermanagh, and it was her late goal that wrapped up the win.

As a result, Fermanagh will play London in one Junior semi-final, while Louth will play Antrim at the same stage.


TG4 All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals

Galway 1-12 Waterford 2-4

Mayo 2-12 Armagh 1-12

TG4 All-Ireland SFC Relegation Qualifier

Cavan 3-12 Westmeath 1-6

TG4 All-Ireland IFC Relegation play-offs

Leitrim 6-12 Wicklow 3-14

Laois 3-21 Limerick 3-5

TG4 All-Ireland JFC Group B Round 3

Fermanagh 1-16 Derry 1-6


TG4 All-Ireland SFC semi-finals

25 August, Croke Park

Dublin v Cork

Galway v Mayo

TG4 All-Ireland IFC Relegation Final

17/18 August

Westmeath v Monaghan

TG4 All-Ireland IFC semi-finals

17 August, Nowlan Park

Sligo v Tipperary

Meath v Roscommon

TG4 All-Ireland JFC semi-finals

Fermanagh v London

Louth v Antrim