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Murray and Keane delighted with Galway spirit as smash-and-grab win sets up “knockout” clash with Cork

Mon 25th Mar

Daragh Ó Conchúir

County, Latest

By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Galway manager Cathal Murray hailed the spirit of his squad of players, as the points from Carrie Dolan and Ailish O’Reilly in the seventh and ninth minutes of injury time snatched victory from Waterford’s grasp in dramatic fashion, on a 0-13 to 0-12 scoreline at Loughrea.

With Cork trundling to a 1-15 to 1-6 triumph over Clare at Páirc Uí Rinn, thanks to Hannah Looney’s goal early in the second half, and Tipperary maintaining their brilliant form of recent weeks with a comfortable 2-12 to 1-6 win over Kilkenny at UPMC Nowlan Park by virtue of goals from , it looks like next weekend’s clash between the Tribeswomen and the Rebels will be winner-takes-all with a place in the Division 1A Very Camogie League final up for grabs. A draw would be enough for Galway however, who have a superior score difference.

A share of the spoils would enable both to progress if Tipp were to lose to Clare but with John Carmody’s young Banner outfit still without any point, it would be a huge shock should Denis Kelly’s side fail to end a 15-year wait for the Premiers to reach a national senior final, having accounted for Galway, Cork and Kilkenny in their last three outings.

Galway led by six points at half-time but Waterford, who went into the weekend action top of the division on score difference, roared into the fray in the second half, aided by a strong wind and a dominant Beth Carton. Two mammoth pointed frees by goalkeeper Brianna O’Regan pushed the Déise into the lead in injury time but Galway dug it out to keep their hopes of reaching the

“Fair play to the girls,” said Murray in conversation with Galway Bay FM’s Tommy Devane. “It was a tough second half. We knew at half-time it was a really strong breeze and I know we were up ten points to four up and were happy but we knew Waterford would come at us in the second half.

“They’re a super team. They got up a point and probably missed a couple of scores as well but that’s the real sign of a team and a sign of a good mentality (to come back). That’s a super sign. It certainly wasn’t the best performance and there’s certainly an awful lot of work to do but when you can figure it out and get that victory, it’s really pleasing.

“Waterford were the better team in the second half and had a couple of chances they missed when they were a point up but we never lost heart. It was about winning hard ball and there was loads of hard ball won in that last ten minutes.”

Áine Keane (pictured above) excelled for the Tribeswomen and did her best to make sense of that frenetic conclusion.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind of a second half,” Keane said. “There was a huge gale in it. They applied lots of pressure. We crumbled to a certain extent, in the first 20 minutes of that second half.

“It was touch and go, we were a point down but we dug deep to go on and win it by a point.

“That game could have gone any way. That’s the truth about it. We’re just happy we were able to keep our composure, keep calm.

“We put ourselves in a bad position to go a point down. We gave up some handy frees and lost a small bit the structure of the team. To get a score and to get that last point to win it, the screaming and roaring said it all. It said what it means to us as well.”

Cork lacked economy in the shooting department with the elements in their favour in the first half against Clare, but once Katrina Mackey set up Looney to raise the green flag, the result they needed was assured even though the visitors never stopped battling.

“We were a bit disappointed in the first half,” admitted manager Ger Manley in conversation with Ger McCarthy for Cork’s Red FM’s Big Red Bench, even though they led at that juncture by five points.

“We probably should have had more scores but our conversion rate in the second half was excellent. I thought we did a lot better into the wind. We wanted to win today to set up the game next week against Galway and that’s what we did.

“I thought we were very good in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half and we put the game to bed.”

The return of Saoirse McCarthy had a notable impact, the Courcey Rovers star missing out as the Leesiders suffered their first defeat of the campaign to Tipperary.

“She’s a great player, she can play anywhere. We’re playing her half-forward in a few games, she could be half-back next week. Sorcha McCartan got a bad injury there now in her ankle, I hope she’s okay but we’re getting them back. Laura Treacy was back there, she made a big difference. We’re trying to mind the footballers, we’d a couple of footballers off today.

“There’s competition for places and we’ve to finalise the Championship panel and we’ll do that in a week or two.”

McCarthy was delighted to be back, given that competition.

“No one likes missing a game and you’re always hungry to get back onto the team and it is so competitive within our panel that you do want to put on a performance every time you go out and play so trying to get the jersey back now,” the versatile speedster stated.

“You want to win every game you go out and play but the League is designed for trying out new things and trying out new players so obviously we were disappointed with the loss against Tipp but we had to get back on track and were happy with the win.”

Everyone was in agreement that next weekend’s tie with Galway playing host to Cork, should be a cracker.

“Tipperary have one foot in the League final now,” Murray offered, though you know the Premiers will not view it like that given their litany of near-misses in recent years while also giving their opposition deserved respect despite their struggles to date. Yet the Galway boss was only stating the obvious given the form book.

“They’re playing Clare in the last game and it’s probably going to be a League semi-final here between ourselves and Cork in a week’s time.

“They’re All-Ireland champions. They’re an unbelievable team. They were a super team last year and it’s going to be an incredible challenge but it’s one we’re looking forward to. They’re the days you want to play in and perform in and it’s going to be a massive game next weekend.”

“We did a hard block of training since the Tipp game because we weren’t back that long,” Manley declared. “We’re seeing a bit of improvement every week and I suppose we’ll have to improve again. Galway and Cork always have great battles over the year and we have knockout now next week. It’s a good test for us.

“I’d rather be peaking in the Championship. There’s lots of teams going very well. You saw that, Tipp were flying against us. We’re a bit off it still but we’re trying to peak in May. Our Championship starts against Wexford. We want to get to the League final as that will set us up again so the Galway game is a huge game now for us and we’ll treat it as a very important game next week.”

It is a game Keane says Galway, who have won the last two titles, will be determined to win.

“Cathal has tried out loads of players in this League and given everyone a go but the essential thing is every game we go out and try and win,” she reasoned. “We haven’t really thought about League finals or anything like that, League success, it’s just game by game.

“Cork is a must-win game now as well and if we can get a performance hopefully we’ll win the game.”

And for McCarthy, it is about relishing the occasion.

“It’ll be a huge test, winner-takes-all next week but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Love playing on big days. Exciting.”

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