The LGFA Championship got underway for Mayo this afternoon as they took on Galway in the Connacht SFC final at Tuam Stadium. It was a game that Galway led in throughout and won at the finish by four points.
The opening quarter was ultra cautious, the only score coming for a free from Galway for a technical infringement in the eighth minute. Over twenty minutes had been played before the home team scored again but after that they notched a further five without reply.
The 30-minute mark had passed before Mayo finally opened their account. The score came from a free by Shauna Howley and then Ciara Needham added one from play to cut the gap to five at the break.
Points were traded early in the second half but when Galway’s Lynsey Noone broke through for a goal ten minutes into the half, the gap was now seven points and the visitors were in real bother.
To their credit, though, they battled back. With Rachel Kearns joining the fray from the bench, Mayo now had more attacking power and a good move ended with Lisa Cafferkey finding the net to give the Green and Red renewed hope.
Further scores, from Tamara O’Connor, Shauna Howley and Lisa Cafferkey, reduced the deficit to just two points. With a bit over ten minutes to go, the tie was now very much in the balance.
Coming down the closing stretch, however, it was Galway who steadied themselves better. They held onto the ball, taking the sting out of Mayo’s challenge, and they bagged the game’s final two scores as well to seal the win and retain the Connacht title on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-8.
Today’s provincial final was but the opening shot in this year’s Championship for both teams. The outcome was of relevance to both, though, as it determined which group they now go into.
Today’s defeat inevitably means that Mayo will be in a tougher group than they would have had they won. The others in their group will be the winners of the Leinster final (Meath or Dublin), the beaten finalists in Munster (Cork or Kerry) and the Ulster runners-up (Armagh or Donegal).
Commiserations to the ladies on today’s defeat and the best of luck to them for the rest of the Championship.