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Tribeswomen “not at the races” in Cork but Murray promises “a different Galway” at Croke Park

Mon 01st Jul

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Galway manager, Cathal Murray has backed his charges to consign Saturday’s listless effort against Cork to the dustbin and put their best foot forward against Waterford in next Sunday’s Glen Dimplex All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park (1.30pm).

Murray is backing knockout competition to bring the best out of his crew but they will have to improve considerably on the 2-16 to 1-7 loss at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh that means they must line out again eight days later, while the champions will have four weeks off before the All-Ireland semi-final double-header at UPMC Nowlan Park on July 27.

Tipperary will play in the other penultimate outing, as a result of their 1-15 to 0-15 triumph over Kilkenny at The Ragg, while the Cats will play Dublin in the first of the quarter-finals at Headquarters on Saturday (12.30pm).

It was the result by the Lee that raised most eyebrows, however and Murray did not attempt to put a gloss on it when speaking to Galway Bay FM.

“Hard to put in words,” the Sarsfields man admitted. “Cork were the better team by a long, long way. We just weren’t at the races. There were a lot of good performances but as a team we were poor and never got out of the blocks.

“We don’t have much time to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s going to be a massive task and we’re going to have to be an awful lot better or we’re in serious trouble.”

An ankle injury to veteran Ann Marie Starr, who re-established herself in the side this year after a number of years on the sidelines, didn’t help but Murray wasn’t looking for handy escape clauses.

“She’s going to have to go for a scan  during the week and we’ll know then. She was one of the players that stood up massively for us so if she is injured, it’s going to be a huge loss. There’s nothing broken but it might be ligaments and if it is, she’s facing a few weeks on the sideline, her year could be over. We’re hoping against hope that’s not the case.

“We have been dogged by injuries but that’s no excuse. We had the majority of our team out there and unfortunately the performance wasn’t good enough.

“You have to look at next weekend (when picking your team for Cork). There was always the possibility we’d come down here, put in a massive, brilliant performance and lose by a point and still be in a quarter-final next week. You’re looking at minutes for players. We always knew if we had to play a quarter-final, it’s going to be a massive battle. And we need all the players and that was in our thoughts.

“It’s really disappointing but we know we’re not as bad as we looked out there. We know what we have in that dressing room. It’s about backing them now, them backing each other, backing the team. I’m sure you’ll see a different Galway next week. We need to see a better Galway next week but we will.”

Galway’s Cathal Murray congratulates Cork’s Ger Manley at the final whistle (INPHO/Natasha Barton)

Not for the first time, Katrina Mackey and Amy O’Connor did most of the attacking damage, while Galway struggled to cope with the energy and score-taking from the half-back line of stand-in skipper, Laura Hayes.

Aoife Healy earned the player-of-the-match plaudits however, carrying on this year where she left off in a brilliant breakthrough season with her prodigious workrate and clever supply.

“When you’re against the wind you’re trying to just keep tipping over your scores and running the ball,” said Healy. “In the first half we kinda ran the ball a lot and then we knew in the second half we’d have the wind and we could take our long-range scores.

“At half-time, we just wanted to work on our workrate. We wanted to push up on them so they got nothing easy and we just said we go at it straight from half-time.

“We kind of feed off the pressure (of being champions). We have a lot of people backing us and that kind of thing will be driving you on. We’ll put in a good shift over the next few weeks and we’ll be all set in four weeks’ time.”

Rebels boss, Ger Manley was delighted with his crew but admitted that having been involved as coach last season, when they navigated the quarter-final route, managing the gap to the semi-final will take careful consideration.

“We played Galway down through the years. They’re very hard to beat. We got the monkey off the back last year in the semi-final. Cathal Murray has done a super job and they’re there every year. Physically, it’s the hardest game you’ll get,” Manley declared.

“We got the scores at the right time. Got the goal at the right time in the first half (from Mackey) and the start of the second half (from O’Connor). We took our chances.

“We came back very late for the League this year and we did that purposely because a lot of the girls had been playing with clubs, schools, colleges and it caught us in the League. We don’t go out to lose any game but we won Munster and got momentum from that.

“Now we’ve a break of a month. We haven’t had that for a bit so we’re just going to sit down now and see how we’ll work that out.

“To be All-Ireland champions, you put so much into it. The girls want to win it again, they’re a very focused group. You need a bit of luck but as I tell them, the more you put in, the luckier you get. And they do put in a lot. It’s seven nights a week now between gym and the pitch. The game is getting more high profile and what we put in, I suppose every other county is putting in but we do have a very good team.”

Tipperary had to fight hard to hold off a resolute wind-backed Kilkenny in the second half, having led at the break by ten points, but Karin Blair’s first half goal kept the League champions’ noses in front.

“Our goal at the start of the year was to get as far as possible and obviously trying our best to get out of the group and top the group if possible, which we did, so we’re absolutely delighted with that and we look forward to a semi-final in a few weeks,” Nicole Walsh (above) observed.

“Kilkenny were unbelievable . The changes they made showed in the game and they got some vital scores. They never gave up till the very end. We expected that from them. At half-time, it was said Kilkenny are going to come out fighting, which they did. We’re very lucky to get over the line and we’re delighted.”

It was a first championship victory for Tipperary in 12 year over the Stripeywomen.

“I didn’t know that but we wanted to win all our games and go straight through to the semi,” was the reaction of player of the match, Róisín Howard (below). “We’ve got that now and we’re really looking forward to the next four weeks of training and will go from there.

“We took it game by game. We had a big win over Waterford in the first game and it went from there. If you’d lost that match you’re looking at a total different ball game.

“We got game time into a lot of players and you could see the difference Cáit Devane and Mary Bourke made. Mary scored a vital point at the end so it’s key for us to have that impact off the bench as well.”

Manager Denis Kelly was in no way surprised by the rally of Peter Cleere’s Noresiders.

“At half-time it looked like we were cruising but we knew there was a strong breeze there,” said Kelly.

“We knew Kilkenny are Kilkenny and no matter whether you’re playing darts or tiddly-winks or whatever you’re playing, they’ll come back at you and they really put us to the pin of our collar. That was some epic battle there and we just about got over the line and we’re delighted to get through now as it gives us a bit of a break. We can assess tired bodies, give them a few days of a break and then crack on again.

“We’ve a few things to address after today, a few little tweaks to make and we’ll get a chance to get a run at training after a few days of a break. We know we’re 60 minutes away from an All-Ireland final. We haven’t been there in a while. We’ve a lot of work to do to get there but we’re on the right track.”

Beth Carton scored 2-8 as Waterford beat Derry 3-15 to 0-6 and Dublin joined them in the last six when proving far too strong for Down by 4-19 to 0-6. That consigned the Mourne outfit to relegation, which is also the fate of Antrim, after Limerick prevailed in their bottom-of-the-table encounter by 2-17 to 3-12.

Clare secured their second victory of what has been a promising campaign for a youthful side when accounting for Wexford 1-15 to 1-11.

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