CORA Staunton scored 1-8 but couldn’t prevent defeat for Mayo against Connacht rivals Galway on the opening day of the Lidl Ladies National Football League campaign.
Roisin Leonard scored 2-4 for Galway as they ran out 2-8 to 1-10 winners in Swinford, as Mayo’s returning trio of Staunton, Martha Carter and Yvonne Byrne were all drafted into the starting line-up.
At half-time, Galway had a 1-6 to 1-3 lead, with Leonard and Staunton trading goals in this Division 1 clash.
Leonard netted an ice-cool penalty before Staunton replied for Mayo with a goal direct from a 20m free, taking the Galway defenders by surprise with a stunning effort.
But Leonard’s second half goal, to cap a fine team move, proved crucial as Galway got their campaign off to a winning start against last year’s beaten finalists.
Galway missed some good chances to make the game a little more comfortable and Staunton, who bagged 1-5 of her haul from frees, was unlucky not to win it for Mayo at the death when she fisted an effort just over the crossbar.
Elsewhere, defending League and All-Ireland champions Cork were big winners against Munster rivals Kerry in Mallow.
The Rebelettes won by 5-17 to 1-11 to kick-start their season in impressive fashion.
By half-time, Cork had the game effectively wrapped up, having opened up a 4-10 to 0-9 lead.
Ciara O’Sullivan netted a first half brace of goals for Cork, striking in the eighth and 19th minutes, as Orla Finn and Bríd O’Sullivan also raised green flags for the in-form winners.
Kerry’s goal arrived early in the second half, Amanda Brosnan on target, before Eimear Scally’s scored Cork’s fifth goal midway through the half.
Kerry did have a good contribution from their inside line of Sarah Houlihan, Megan O’Connell and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, with eight of their nine points scored from play, but Cork were too good.
Cork captain Ciara O’Sullivan finished with a personal haul of 2-3 and Finn, one of the game’s most lethal forwards in 2016, collected 1-4 to get her season off to a good start.
Even without their four 11-time All-Ireland senior medallists – Deirdre O’Reilly, Bríd Stack, Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery – Cork showed real depth in their panel and having struggled in the early stages of last year’s League campaign, this opening-day win is a real statement of intent from Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges.
At the home of Naomh Mearnóg, hosts Dublin beat Monaghan by 1-7 to 0-5, in what was Mick Bohan’s first competitive game in charge of the Sky Blues.
Olivia Leonard’s second half goal proved crucial for Dublin, who had a three-point haul from Sarah McCaffrey, sister of former men’s Footballer of the Year Jack.
At the end of a low-scoring first half, Dublin led by 0-4 to 0-3 before the hosts turned the screw to run out five-point winners against the Ulster champions.
And in Convoy, Donegal marked their return to the top flight by scoring a 4-10 to 0-11 victory against Ulster rivals Armagh.
Paula McGrory netted two first half goals before Amber Barrett and Roisin Friel raised green flags in the second half.
At half-time, Donegal were 2-4 to 0-4 in front before stamping their authority all over the second period.
Armagh had a six-point haul from forward star Aimee Mackin, including four from play, but they were outclassed by Donegal.
In Division 2, Laois edged past neighbours Kildare by 2-11 to 2-9 and there were also wins for Westmeath and Tyrone on the opening day.
Munster counties Clare and Waterford drew and the Banner girls will be the happier with the result as Waterford had raced into an early six-point lead.
Leitrim, Tipperary, Roscommon and Meath opened their Division 3 seasons with victories and in Division 4, there were wins for Longford, Fermanagh, Wicklow and Carlow.
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1:
Donegal 4-10 Armagh 0-11
Cork 5-17 Kerry 1-11
Dublin 1-7 Monaghan 0-5
Mayo 1-10 Galway 2-8
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2:
Laois 2-11 Kildare 2-9
Westmeath 1-9 Cavan 2-4
Clare 1-9 Waterford 2-6
Tyrone 1-14 Sligo 1-10
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3:
Leitrim 5-5 Limerick 0-8
Wexford 2-10 Tipperary 4-10
Offaly 1-13 Roscommon 4-11
Down 0-11 Meath 1-16
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4:
Antrim 0-2 Longford 7-20
Fermanagh 4-7 Derry 1-4
Kilkenny 0-1 Wicklow 5-16
Carlow 5-7 Louth 2-9