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Newbie Niland relishes first start but Murray focusing on Tipp test

Mon 19th Feb

Daragh Ó Conchúir


Galway manager, Cathal Murray revealed the delicate balancing act faced by teams as they commence the Very Camogie Leagues but admitted to being pleased that many of the boxes had been ticked as his side got the defence of their Division 1A title under way with a 0-17 to 0-8 defeat of Clare in Ennis.

Niamh Niland shone brightly on her first competitive start for the Tribeswomen, shooting four points from play.

Since Murray took over the reins, he has consistently rewarded new players that have performed through the League, regardless of the calibre of player returning to the group later in a season.

And he has done this while steering the most successful team in the competition in recent times, Galway reaching the last four finals and winning three of them, including the last two.

“We’re happy with the performance,” Murray said on Galway Bay FM after the game. “Any time you come down to Cusack Park and win by nine points, you’re very happy. Clare are missing a lot since last year as well so we don’t want to get carried away with ourselves.

“There was some really good play, other things we need to improve on but overall, a really good start. (We’re) very happy that four girls made their League debut today and how they went. A lot of players put their hand up and that’s what we want out of the League.

“Okay, we want to be competitive and we obviously want to win games but it’s really important that we find five or six players for the championship as well.

“Anyone that came on (as subs) deserved it and to be honest, they pushed us on a small bit as well and that’s a good sign. We need to give players as much chances as possible in the course of the League and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.

“I thought there were some really good performances off the bench. You need that. We have to be pushing. Those girls will get their chance to start shortly as well. They’re really putting in a massive effort in training. So it was really good to see a few of them come off the bench and performing at a high level and hopefully that continues over the next four games.”

Niland has been exhibiting her talent with Clarinbridge, Pres Athenry and various Galway representative teams in recent years and indicated that she is ready to make the step up with an excellent performance.

“It was nice to get the opportunity to start today and all the experienced girls around me helped me along,” Niland noted. “When you get your opportunity, you have to try and take it.

“From a young age, I’ve always wanted to play for my senior team so I was just delighted to get the opportunity. You’d be a bit nervous but once you get out on the pitch, you just try to get the ball and play it in the right position.”

Among the more experienced players Niland referred to were the likes of Aoife Donohue and Ailish O’Reilly, as well as new captain Róisín Black and her vice-captains, Carrie Dolan, who scored eight points, and Siobhán McGrath.

Black was glad to get her reign off to a positive start despite the heavy rain making it difficult.

“Delighted to get that underneath the belt,” Black stated. “The girls performed very well today. We have to be prepared for all weather conditions. We’re training in it and well used to it.

“We’ve a huge battle ahead of us (against Tipperary next week). We’re looking forward to it, are training well and hopefully we’ll have a good game.

“We need girls pushing on and driving the standards every single year. The girls that maybe didn’t play much last year came in and really put their hands up today so that’s great.”

Murray acknowledged a bit of extra motivation for next week’s trip to Tipp, while also outlining a desire to get the ball moving quickly where possible.

“We’re trying to get the ball into our full-forward line a bit faster. We were on top for a lot of it. I think we could have put more on the scoreboard. That’s something we’ve to look at it but overall you’d have to be happy.

“Next week is a massive game down in The Ragg. Tipperary are a really, really good team and they bet us by nine points down there last year. When we looked at the fixtures, that’s one that stuck out and we’ll be hoping that goes well, but either way, we’ll know a lot more about ourselves in a week’s time.”

In the other two games, All-Ireland champions Cork just got the better of old rivals Kilkenny in a thriller at UPMC Nowlan Park by 1-17 to 1-16.

Katrina Mackey top scored for Ger Manley’s outfit with eight points, with Sophie O’Dwyer hitting the same tally for Kilkenny.

Claire Mullins goaled for Cork but Aoife Doyle responded for the Cats, who fought all the way to the line. In the end, two points from Emma Murphy enabled the Rebels to squeeze home but new Kilkenny boss Peter Cleere is likely to be very heartened by what he saw, despite the reverse.

Meanwhile, Waterford repeated their All-Ireland semi-final victory over Tipperary at the Sean Treacy’s pitch in Kilcommon. An early goal from Beth Carton separated the pair at the end of a tight encounter that finished 1-10 to 0-10.

Jerry Wallace’s united led by 1-5 to 0-6 at the end of the first half and with Carton keeping the scoreboard ticking over, the margin extended to five, which was enough to hold the Premier at bay.



Division 1A

Galway 0-17 Clare 0-8

Cork 1-17 Kilkenny 1-16

Waterford 1-10 Tipperary 0-10


Division 2A

Derry 1-10 Carlow 1-5

Westmeath 4-11 Offaly 3-13

Meath 1-13 Cavan 0-4


Division 2B

Cork 2-14 Kilkenny 1-12

Galway 3-9 Clare 0-7

Tipperary 2-12 Wexford 1-11


Division 3B

Down 0-11 Antrim 0-7

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