By IVAN SMYTH
Super-sub Aoife O’Rourke scored a last minute free to give Galway a share of the spoils in an enthralling Lidl NFL Division 1 clash with holders Meath.
The reigning champions were playing their first game at Páirc Tailteann this year in front of a huge home support and the majority of the crowd looked set to go home happy when Emma Duggan put Meath ahead after 56 minutes. The TG4 All-Star forward, who was a half time substitute, kicked three points but it wasn’t enough for the win.
The opening half was a tense affair with both sides showing their defensive solidity. It was the hosts that started the quicker as an incisive attacking move culminated in wing back Niamh Gallogly firing over.
However, Maghnus Breathnach and Fiona Wynne’s side survived a scare when Olivia Callan’s shot almost deceived Alannah Griffin in the Galway goal but she did enough to prevent the concession of a goal.
Galway produced a move of real quality as Olivia Divilly and Kate Slevin combined to set up Shauna Brennan to arrow over the equaliser. Meath’s restart didn’t travel the required distance as Slevin slotted the resulting Galway free.
With the boisterous Meath fans providing loud support, Davy Nelson’s players were boosted when Galway’s Leanne Coen was sent to the sin-bin. However, it was Galway who responded well to their numerical disadvantage as Slevin converted a placed ball after Megan Glynn was fouled.
Meath needed a score and after the home side won a turnover deep in their own territory, they countered quickly with Meadhbh Byrne kicking a badly needed score with Galway leading 0-3 to 0-2 at the break.
Eva Noone and Slevin scored early in the second half for Galway but Meath responded through Stacey Grimes and Ciara Smyth. Three Slevin efforts helped Galway inch ahead with Duggan kicking two of her own.
Grimes, Gallogly and Duggan helped Meath lead by one but O’Rourke stepped up to ensure a share of the spoils for Galway.
Scorers – Galway: K Slevin 0-6 (3f), A O’Rourke 0-1 (1f), S Brennan 0-1, E Noone 0-1. Meath: E Duggan 0-3 (1f), S Grimes 0-2 (2f), N Gallogly 0-2, M Byrne 0-1, C Smyth 0-1.
GALWAY: A Griffin; K Geraghty, S Ní Loingsigh, E Gavin; C Cooney, L Ward, A Molloy; A Davoren, L Coen; S Brennan, O Divilly, C Miskell; M Glynn, K Slevin, L Noone.
Subs: E Noone for Glynn (ht), H Noone for E Noone (47), J Burke for Brennan (47), A O’Rourke for Miskell (56).
MEATH: M McGuirk; K Newe, MK Lynch, A Sheridan; N Gallogly, S Ennis, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, A Minogue; M Thynne, M Byrne, N O’Sullivan; O Callan, S Grimes, C Smyth.
Subs: E Duggan for Callan (ht), A Leahy for Smyth (47) A Sherlock for Byrne (47).
Ref – Gavin Finnegan (Down).