THE Cathal Murray era got off to a perfect start as he and his new coaching staff guided a Connacht squad made up entirely of Galway players to victory in the Senior Interprovincial Competition at Naomh Mearnóg, Dublin.
Murray took over the reins as Galway manager after Tony O’Donovan and his fellow mentors stepped down following the Tribeswomen’s progression to the National League Semi-Finals.
The players’ familiarity with one another was evident in their greater cohesion as they created numerous goal chances and got the better of Leinster 6-6 to 0-6 in the Final.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however as the westerners had their backs to the wall early on after losing their opener to Munster by 3-9 to 2-8.
There was a new format to the tournament this year, where instead of two Semi-Final pairings, the teams played each other in a round-robin series of 30-minute games to determine the composition of the Cup and Shield deciders.
Certainly, that was a relief for Connacht after their early loss and they availed of the second chance by thumping Leinster 2-10 to 0-2 and then getting the better of Connacht 2-12 to 1-5.
After their brilliant start, Munster fell away and Ulster secured a famous win in a tight second-round encounter, 0-7 to 0-6.
They still had a chance of making the Cup Final if they could beat Leinster but were never in contention, the eastern contingent winning by 3-5 to 0-3.
Munster did gain a measure of revenge on Ulster in the Shield Final, triumphing on a 0-13 to 0-8 scoreline.
In the Cup Final, it was all about Connacht, All-Star Aoife Donohue inflicting the greatest damage with a hat-trick of goals. Carrie Dolan, Ailish O’Reilly and Niamh Kilkenny also raised green flags, while Dolan (two frees), Donohue, O’Reilly, Orlaith McGrath and Niamh Hanniffy added points.