Aisling McGing All-Ireland U21 ladies football final
by Kevin Moran at St Croan’s GAA club, Roscommon
EMMA Reaney bagged an incredible individual haul of 5-2 as Galway were crowned Aisling McGing All-Ireland U21 ladies football champions for the very first time.
The rampant Tribeswomen saw off the challenge of neighbours and Connacht rivals Mayo by a whopping 35 points at St Croan’s GAA club in Roscommon.
This was third time lucky for Galway, who lost previous finals in 2016 and 2013.
There was no stopping Galway as they confidently overcame the challenge of Mayo. Rejuvenated by the return to the panel of the strong contingent of Kilkerrin/Clonberne players, they went about dispatching their opponents quickly and efficiently.
Galway were led by brilliant performances from full forward Reaney and Louise Ward, who was a constant threat to the Mayo defence from corner forward.
Mayo started the game brightly despite a gale force breeze and Fiona Doherty put them into an early lead with two frees.
However, that would be as good as it got for Mayo as Galway began to impose their dominance on the scoreboard from the fifth minute onwards.
Scores from Olivia Divilly and player-of-the-match Shauna Hynes preceded the first goal of the tie for Louise Ward on 13 minutes, to give Galway a 1-4 to 0-2 lead.
Nicola Ward and Hynes added further points before Reaney drove a low shot into the net for her first goal.
As half-time approached, Galway put the game to bed as a contest with a furry of scores, just when Mayo needed to hang on and hold their heads at the break.
Divilly and Hynes scored from distance before three goals in three minutes sealed Mayo’s fate, two coming from powerful finishes from Reaney and another from Nicola Ward, to making it 5-9 to 0-3 at the break.
Despite the advantage of the breeze in the second half, Mayo struggled to make any headway on the scoreboard.
Senior star Fiona Doherty led their charge as best she could and her four points early in the half kept Mayo ticking over.
However, Galway were ruthless and continued to rack up the scores as the game progressed.
Olivia Divilly, Louise Ward and Reaney all kicked points before Reaney grabbed her fourth goal of the game with 35 minutes played.
Captain Megan Glynn and Shauna Hynes furthered the advantage midway through the half before Reaney again found the back of the net following some good work from Glynn.
A goal from Louise Ward on 48 minutes made it 8-14 to 0-8, with Reaney adding her final score from play a minute later.
Mayo had a couple of late goal chances to close the gap but found Dearbhla Gower in fine form in the Galway goal.
Instead, all they could muster was points from Natasha Gaughan and Roisin Durkin in their attempt to add respectability to the scoreline.
With time ticking down to the inevitable Galway victory, Ciara Lynagh and Eimear O’Kane added two goals to their sizeable tally, as Stephen Glennon’s Galway lifted the silverware.
Scorers for Galway – E Reaney 5-2, L Ward 2-1, O Divilly 0-5 (0-3f), N Ward 1-2, S Hynes 0-4, C Lynagh 1-0, E O’Kane 1-0, M Glynn 0-1.
Scorers for Mayo – F Doherty 0-6 (0-4f), N Gaughan 0-2, R Kearns 0-1, R Durkin 0-1.
Galway – D Gower; J Burke, E Gavin, M Joyce; S Molloy, K Dowd, O Murphy; S Hynes, C Crowe; O Divilly, M Kelly, M Glynn; N Ward, E Reaney, L Ward.
Subs – S Gormally for Burke (30), A O’Regan for Kelly (HT), C Lynagh for Divilly (50), E O’Kane for Reaney (50), D Keane for L Ward (57)
Mayo – S Murphy; C Flatley, D Kelly, E Needham; R Kearns, R O’Malley, K Crean; F Doherty, A Duffy; S Ludden, F McManaman, D Caldwell; N Gaughan, E Needham, L Needham.
Subs – R Durkin for Crean (25), M McHale for Kelly (HT), T Phillips for McManamon (HT), L Burke for Caldwell (36).
Ref – N McCormack (Laois).