By MIKE FINNERTY
An amazing game ended in a welter of excitement as Galway survived a late Cork rally to retain their unbeaten run in the Lidl Ladies National Football League at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
The home side looked home and hosed when they led by four points in the closing stages, but Cork almost snatched a dramatic victory when Eimear Kiely hit the crossbar in the dying seconds.
A pulsating match was dominated by the swirling Salthill wind and rain, but Galway’s running game was suited to playing against the elements in the opening half.
Joint managers Maghnus Breathnach and Fiona Wynne would have been pleased to see Galway lead by 0-5 to 0-1 after 18 minutes with Roisin Leonard (three), Louise Ward and Olivia Divilly all on target.
Cork were really struggling to get to grips with the conditions, and Galway’s well-organised defence, but the game changed utterly in the space of 180 seconds between the 25th and 28th minutes.
Galway hadn’t conceded a goal this season but Abbie O’Mahony and Orlaith Cahalane (two) both netted in quick succession to leave the visitors ahead by 3-2 to 0-5 at the interval.
The home side stuck to the game-plan and made a flying start to the second half with three quickfire points from Olivia Divilly, Ailbhe Davoren and Roisin Leonard to get back into contention.
However, their comeback was stalled when Cork’s Katie Quirke was fouled in the square on 38 minutes and Emma Cleary stepped up to tuck away the resultant penalty.
Remarkably though, Shane Ronayne’s side were outscored by 1-7 to 0-2 in the final 27 minutes as Galway laid siege to the Cork goal.
The Westerners got their revival underway with a string of points from subs Hannah Noone and Tracey Leonard, along with a couple of inspirational efforts from the outstanding Ailbhe Davoren.
Then midfielder Louise Ward drilled in Galway’s first goal of this league campaign in the 50th minute to put them ahead, and they stayed there until the end to record their third win in four games.
Scorers – Galway: R Leonard 0-7 (2f, ‘45), L Ward 1-1, A Davoren 0-3, O Divilly 0-2, H Noone 0-1, T Leonard 0-1.
Cork: O Cahalane 2-0, A O’Mahony 1-1, E Cleary 1-0 (1-0 pen), K Quirke 0-3 (3f).
Galway: A Griffin; K Geraghty, S Ni Loinsigh, E Gavin; C Cooney, N Ward, A Molloy; A Davoren, L Ward; L Coen, O Divilly, L Noone; E Noone, R Leonard, K Slevin.
Subs: C Trill for Gavin (ht), H Noone for Molloy (ht), M Glynn for L Noone (43), T Leonard for E Noone (43), S Brennan for Coen (46), A Morrissey for R Leonard (56).
Cork: M O’Sullivan; S Kelly, S Leahy, D Kinry; L O’Mahony, R Phelan, M Duggan; C O’Sullivan, E O’Shea; E Cleary, O Cahalane, A O’Mahony; K Quirke, E Kiely, R Leahy.
Subs: A Ring for Cahalane (ht), M O’Callaghan for O’Mahony (39), K Redmond for C O’Sullivan (48), E Meaney for Kelly (43), A Ryan for O’Mahony (43).
Referee: S Coyle (Donegal).
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1:
Mayo 2-6 Meath 0-9
Galway 1-15 Cork 4-4
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2:
Westmeath 3-7 Roscommon 1-11
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3:
Wexford 0-8 Sligo 0-7
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4B:
Limerick 4-9 Leitrim 1-18