Ladies hold out to make the semis

At half-time in today’s LGFA SFC quarter-final at MacHale Park it looked as if Mayo were going to beat Galway with considerable ease. The neighbours weren’t, though, prepared to bow out without a fight and it took some determined rearguard action for Michael Moyles’ team to seal a hard-fought 1-15 to 1-11 win over Galway.

After heavy rain in the west earlier on, the skies had cleared before the ball was thrown in, although the going underfoot was obviously a bit tricky. Mayo came out of the traps smartly and took the game to Galway right from the outset.

Their gameplan was based on hard work and hard running, getting the ball up the field fast where Sarah Rowe was always a good outlet. It wasn’t long before this high tempo approach started to pay significant dividends on the scoreboard.

We got the game’s opening three scores. Our first one could well have been a goal but Lisa Cafferky’s effort was well saved by the Galway ‘keeper. A Shauna Howley free, following a foul on Sarah Rowe, got us moving. A nice one from play and a free by Rachel Kearns – followed another foul on Sarah – stretched our lead to three.

Ten minutes had been played before Galway opened their account. We hit back immediately, Sarah taking possession at pace, turning and firing over. After Galway got their second, Sarah turned provider, feeding Shauna Howley, whose trusty left boot did the rest.

We added three more points without reply after the water break. Rachel, Shauna and Sarah all found the target as our lead widened to six points.

Galway pulled two back in quick succession but then Sarah bagged her third of the day, after some clever inter-play with Niamh Kelly. Soon after, Sinead Cafferkey gathered the ball out on the fifty, turned and ran hard at the Galway goal. The defence backed off her and the Kilmovee player had time to pick her spot, shooting low and hard to the net.

Galway responded with a free. Sinead had the final say of the half, however, as she executed a wonderful dummy which her marker bought hook, line and sinker, before firing over to send her team in at the break a handsome eight points to the good.

A comeback for the visitors didn’t look on the cards at that juncture. The seeds of a Galway revival had, though, already been sown with all that hard running Mayo had done in the first half. Despite injecting fresh legs into the contest throughout the second half, as the half progressed the home team increasingly lost their way as Galway roared back into contention.

Sarah Rowe’s substitution with 17 minutes left on the clock seemed a curious switch. The Kilmoremoy woman was a live wire up front, so clever on the ball, always making good use of possession and with a keen eye both for a score and a well-placed pass. When she left the fray it was surely no coincidence that our forward play looked more disjointed.

Still, we were nine points up at that stage. Scores after the break from Grace Kelly, Sinead Cafferkey and Rachel Kearns, with Galway bagging two in response (one a free) left us in a strong position as the second water break beckoned.

Before then, however, Galway broke through for a goal. In fairness, the warning signs were there as Laura Brennan had before then denied Galway twice with two well-timed saves. There was nothing the Mayo ‘keeper could do, though, about Mairéad Seoighe’s shot, which she hit early off the left, rippling the net to cut the gap to six.

Shauna responded for us with a nice one from play. This contest had, however, gone off on a different direction, with an interesting final quarter in prospect.

Galway poured forward repeatedly after that. Three points in a row for them shaved the gap back to three, with nine minutes left before the hooter would sound. We weren’t helping ourselves either, as Rachel blasted wildly wide with the goal at her mercy. It could, though, have been worse as Galway drove a relatively easy free wide at the other end.

As the seconds ticked down towards the hooter, the tension ratcheted up bit by bit. It made for nervy viewing on TV and I’d say it was nervy enough out on the pitch too. Another Galway wide, after a long period when they probed for an opening, was followed by another wide for Rachel into the bacon factory end.

The next Galway attack faltered when we won a vital interception. Sarah came back on then, her presence seemingly spreading some much-needed calmness in our ranks.

Into the final minute now, we drove forward one final time. Once more it was Sinead Cafferkey running into opposition territory where she spotted her sister Lisa raiding forward with her. Sinead laid it off nicely and Lisa applied the finish, the hooter sounding soon afterwards as Mayo won by 1-15 to 1-11.

So, like the lads, it’s now onto the All-Ireland semi-final, which takes place the same weekend as the men’s game. The similarities may not end there too, as they’re likely to face All-Ireland champions Dublin then (who are currently just ahead of Donegal at half-time in their quarter-final in Carrick-on-Shannon).

This year, under new management, represented a fresh start for the Mayo women’s team. It was always going to take more than a few months to get this team playing to its full potential, not least given the many injuries they’ve had in their ranks this year.

Getting to a League semi-final and now topping this by making it to an All-Ireland semi-final represents a solid achievement for Michael Moyles and his players. And, you know, they’re not done yet. Far from it, in fact. Well done to them on today’s win and good luck to them in the semi-final in two weeks time.

Mayo: Laura Brennan; Saoirse Lally, Dayna Finn, Roisín Durcan; Tamara O’Connor, Ciara Whyte, Kathyrn Sullivan; Niamh Kelly, Sinead Cafferky (1-2); Fiona McHale, Rachel Kearns (0-3, two frees), Sarah Rowe (0-3); Grace Kelly (0-2), Shauna Howley (0-4, one free), Lisa Cafferky (0-1). Subs: Éilis Ronayne for White, Amy Dowling for Rowe, Marie Reilly for Howley, Danielle Caldwell, Sarah Rowe for Kearns.  

12 thoughts on “Ladies hold out to make the semis

  1. Well done ladies. Big task ahead as with our men’s team but great to have it to look forward to. Great start by the new management team. Best of luck to MM et al.

  2. I wonder will they play the ladies semi final as a curtain raiser to the mens semi final in Croke Park.
    Both games are pencilled in for the same day – would make since

  3. 14th August same day as for the senior men’s game for the women’s semifinal v Dublin, wonder will it be a double header in Croke Park? .Mayo for the most part were impressive in a fast flowing game.. You couldn’t say that about Dublin, who bludgended their way to victory in a very physical game versus Donegal.. The Ref in that game in the Donegal/Dublin I taught was absolutely brutal, well over 50 frees awarded, both teams fouled allot but Dublin could easily have picked up several Black or even Red cards due to persistent fouling.. Eventually one Dublin player was Black Carded with just over a minute remaining.. And indeed the Donegal manager mentioned it in his summing up the amount of persistent fouling Dublin done during the game.. Mick Bohan the Dublin manager seems to want more physicality in the game, saying it affected the continuity of the game, it suited him well and his Dublin team today, so hopefully it will be reffed properly as indeed the men’s game will need to be as well on the 14th of August.. We will start second favorites in both games but I wouldn’t put it beyond us to do the double over Dublin..

  4. Congrats to Mayo Ladies on their win. I recall reading in a report on the Mayo v Armagh match the opinion that there was nothing at stake except the semi final opponent with the reporter of the opinion that Armagh had earned the easier route v Meath. Well, Armagh are out, well beaten by Meath, while Mayo’s hardy girl’s proved able for the “hard road”. They have a tough task ahead in Dublin but win or lose this time they will, no doubt, be the better for the battle. Hopefully it will be a double header and that I, at least, will be able to scratch up a ticket.

  5. Great achievement to get to the AI semi final given all the problems in the camp over the past 3 years. Well done all.

  6. Sarah was withdrawn to avoid a sin bin as she was on two ticks and mayo lost players to sin bin in previous games. There is no black card in ladies football.

  7. @Anyup, You are correct, my mistake I should have said Dublin could easily have picked up several ‘Yellow’ and not ‘Black’ cards.. 10 minutes in the sin bin, the same effect as the black card in men’s football.

  8. Mighty stuff from the Mayo women… congrats and well done. Dubs are like our shadows at this stage… wherever we turn they’re there.
    Great achievement and always hope we can take another scalp along the way..

    Time to shake off the shadow!!

  9. Great win. Properly paced training over next 2 weeks will help as I thought we tired a lot over last 10 mins. In fairness to Galway they played to the end. Roll on the double.

  10. Before the match the commentators didn’t give a chance to Mayo. Galway were going to win easily. That made Mayo’s performance all the sweeter. Well done Michael Moyles and the team.

  11. Savage work rate and superb tackling… understandable that they tired near the end .
    Brilliant bunch of footballers.
    Dublin will be another step up in class but a great challenge to look forward to .
    Well done team and management

  12. Agree that there was huge workrate, I would suggest that a bit more composure will be required to get the benefit of the effort being put in as the Dubs are the benchmark. However the experience gained in playing Dublin will benefit in the long run.

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