Ladies: Leonard and Seoighe on form as Galway claim Connacht title number 14
02 July 2017
Galway's Tracey Leonard.
By Jackie Cahill
Tracey Leonard and Mairead Seoighe sparkled as Galway captured a 14th TG4 Connacht ladies senior football crown at Elvery’s MacHale Park on Sunday.
Stephen Glennon’s Tribeswomen wrestled the title back from Mayo to claim a fifth Connacht win in six seasons – as Leonard and Seoighe combined for 2-11.
Leonard scored nine points, including two from play, as Seoighe chipped in with an impressive 2-2.
Mayo, beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists last year, were desperately below-par and now face a difficult route through the qualifiers, as Galway take the direct road to the quarter-finals.
Ahead by 3-7 to 0-4 at half-time, Galway never looked back and while Shauna Howley’s goal in the 38th minute briefly hinted at a Mayo revival, it never materialised.
They were unlucky when Fiona Doherty rattled a shot off the crossbar soon after, while star forward Cora Staunton tested the woodwork from a viciously-struck free later in the half, but Galway were deserved winners.
Those three first half goals paved the way for victory as Galway took full advantage of the breeze at their backs, in front of a big crowd in Castlebar.
After Galway had streaked two points clear early on, a poor restart cost Mayo a goal to Seioghe in the third minute.
In the fifth minute, 2004 All-Ireland winner Niamh Duggan, who was briefly on the pitch as a blood sub, made a huge impact as she netted to finish a flowing move involving Aine McDonagh and Seoighe.
Galway missed other goal chances in the first half as they carved Mayo open but their third major arrived in the 25th minute, as Seoighe struck again.
Mayo had struggled desperately in that first half, registering just four points and one from play, from Sarah Rowe, as Staunton landed three frees.
When the dust settled, a usually slick mayo outfit had managed just 1-2 from play in the entire game – as Staunton top-scored with seven points.
Crucially from a Galway perspective, the off-colour Mayo ace managed just one point from play in the match, a late effort when the end result was not in doubt.
Galway would finish the game with 14 players when Noelle Connolly was sin-binned in the 55th minute for hauling down Staunton – but Glennon’s charges managed to cruise comfortably to another Connacht win.
Olivia Divilly claimed the player-of-the-match award and on this evidence, Galway could emerge as serious dark horses for All-Ireland glory, in what looks like an open field this summer.
Scorers for Galway – T Leonard 0-9 (7f), M Seoighe 2-2, N Duggan 1-0, A McDonagh 0-1.
Scorers for Mayo – C Staunton 0-7 (6f), S Howley 1-0, S Rowe 0-1.
Galway – D Gower; F Cooney, N Connolly, E Flaherty; A Seoighe, B Hannon, S Burke; L Gannon, C Cormican; O Divilly, T Leonard, A McDonagh; M Seoighe, S Conneally, R Leonard. Subs – M Glynn for Conneally (44), A Davoren for McDonagh (46), S Molloy for Divilly (60).
Mayo – Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, M Corbett; F Doherty, M Carter, D Hughes; C Staunton, A Gilroy; M McGing, F McHale, G Kelly; R Kearns, S Rowe, N Gaughan. Subs – S Howley for McGing (h.t.), A Dowling for Doherty (51), A Duffy for Kelly (55).
Referee – G Chapman (Sligo)