By DARAGH SMALL
Tracey Leonard scored 1-5 as Galway negotiated the dreadful conditions and a stiff challenge from Waterford to advance to the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final where they’ll face rivals Mayo.
Waterford put up a big fight at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park and Aileen Wall goaled twice, but she was unable to stop Galway setting up a repeat of the Connacht final in the last four.
Tracey Leonard and Wall traded goals in the first half but it was Galway who took a narrow 1-6 to 1-4 lead into half-time. Galway pushed on at the start half although Wall scored her second goal Tim Rabbitt’s side had enough to seal the win.
The chances of a free-flowing game were ruined by the torrential rain. It started in the third minute and never eased up, but the Glennon Brothers Pearse Park surface held solid despite the downpour.
Roisin Leonard defied the deluge to score Galway’s first point in the fourth minute and Maria Delahunty curled over an effort down the other end.
Delahunty sent a free wide from the slippery turf after Galway went back in front with Tracey Leonard on target from an eighth minute free.
Michelle Ryan started at midfield but went back to her traditional full-forward and showed her strength before she finished her first point to tie the game again.
Then Galway blitzed Waterford with an unanswered 1-2 between the 12th and 18th minutes.
Megan Glynn and Louise Ward added to Galway’s lead and they got the first goal of the game. Cousins Tracey Leonard and Roisin Leonard combined to create an opening, and Tracey cooly lobbed Waterford goalkeeper Rosie Landers.
Galway were 1-4 to 0-2 ahead in the 18th minute and they could have pushed on before the break but the weather was a big factor again. And after a brief reprieve the rain fell heavily.
Delahunty finally put Waterford back on the scoreboard in the 20th minute, and it was a rallying score.
Sarah Conneally scored a huge point for Galway but then Michelle Ryan doubled her tally before the Waterford goal arrived. Aileen Wall exchanged passes with Eimear Fennell and fired past Lisa Murphy and into the Galway net.
Galway started brightly in the second-half and Tracey Leonard scored twice with Áine McDonagh swinging over a brilliant effort from her left.
Galway piled on the pressure but Wall conjured a chance from nothing and blazed her shot over Lisa Murphy’s head in the 48th minute.
Waterford were only 1-11 to 2-4 behind but Conneally settled Galway and that was enough to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Scorers – Galway: T Leonard 1-5 (3f), S Conneally 0-2, R Leonard 0-2, L Ward 0-1, M Glynn 0-1, Á McDonagh 0-1. Waterford: A Wall 2-0, M Delahunty 0-2 (0-1f), M Ryan 0-2
Galway: L Murphy; S Lynch, N Ward, S Burke; O Murphy, B Hannon, C Cooney; L Ward, Á McDonagh; O Divilly, M Glynn, M Seoighe; T Leonard, S Conneally, R Leonard. Subs: L Coen for Glynn (44), M Coyne for Seoighe (53), S Molloy for Lynch (60).
Waterford: R Landers; M Wall, C McGrath, E Murray; Kate McGrath, Karen McGrath, R Tobin; M Ryan, K Hogan; A Wall, K Murray, S Dunphy; E Fennell, C Fennell, M Delahunty. Subs: B Valuntaite for Delahunty (49), L McGregor for Fennell (54).
Ref: Brendan Rice (Down).