Galway book their place in decider

Lidl National Football League

Galway 0-13

Mayo 2-6

By Darren Kelly

Roisin Leonard scored 0-5 and Galway advanced to the Lidl NFL Division 1 Final after a one-point victory over Connacht rivals Mayo in MacHale Park, Castlebar.
Four unanswered points through two Kate Slevin frees, Eva Noone and Ailbhe Davoren proved decisive after Mayo struck two goals from Tara Needham and Rachel Kearns.
The heavy conditions made settling difficult as both teams tried to orchestrate scoring positions by gradually moving up the field. However, it led to dropped chances and wides, especially on a Galway side that kicked four in the opening quarter.
A pin-point ball on 13 minutes delivered the opening point as the hosts made the breakthrough. Lisa Cafferky held play before Fiona McHale sent the ball towards goal. Kearns’ involvement forced a defender to collide with Galway keeper Karen Connolly and Needham stroked the ball home
However, Galway reacted efficiently and were back on level terms within five minutes. Despite earlier misses, Leonard got off the mark on the quarter-hour and added another placed ball within 60 seconds.
A third opportunity on 18 minutes levelled affairs and with the radar in full flow now, a fourth free on 22 minutes put Galway ahead for the first time.
However, it would be three minutes later before the Tribeswomen got their first from play and growing in confidence; Louise Ward supplied Olivia Divilly to register another point.
Mayo sensed the urgency and Needham replied three minutes later, before Eva Noone put Galway 0-6 to 1-1 up on 40 minutes.
The pace was picking up even if the weather wasn’t improving. Substitute Deirdre Doherty converted a Mayo free in added-time before Kearns set up Needham to equalise. But Leonard’s fifth free gave the visitors a 0-7 to 1-3 interval advantage.
Eva Noone’s free and Aoife Molloy stretched the advantage to three after the restart but on 36 minutes, Mayo got a lifeline when Kearns reacted quickly to take a delivery from the right before slotting in a second goal.
It was the equaliser and five minutes after, Shauna Howley played a one-two with Sinead Cafferky to put the hosts in front.
Mayo needed a result to secure their top flight status but Galway then kicked their four late points to go three ahead. Kearns landed a late Mayo double, leaving one between them.
But the draw they needed didn’t happen setting them up for a relegation showdown with Donegal next week. For Galway, they’ll have a dress rehearsal with Kerry in Round 7 before the two teams meet in the league decider next month.

Scorers – Galway: R Leonard 0-5 (5f), E Noone 0-3 (2f), K Slevin 0-2 (2f), O Divilly 0-1, A Molloy 0-1, A Davoren 0-1.

Mayo: T Needham 1-2, R Kearns 1-2 (1f), D Doherty 0-1 (1f), S Howley 0-1.

Galway: K Connolly; K Geraghty, S Ni Loingsigh, E Gavin; C Cooney, N Ward, A Molloy; A Davoren, O Divilly; L Coen, E Noone, L Noone; R Leonard, L Ward, K Slevin.

Subs: S Divilly for Leonard (HT), H Noone for Cooney (45), S Brennan for Molloy (45), A Ni Cheallaigh for Geraghty (47), A O’Rourke for Coen (55).

Mayo: L Brennan; E Ronayne, S Lally, D Caldwell; C Needham, F McHale, K Sullivan; A Geraghty, S Cafferky; S Walsh, S Howley, T O’Connor; L Cafferky, R Kearns, T Needham.

Subs: D Doherty for Walsh (21), M Cannon for McHale (47), M Reilly for Howley (54), S Mulvihill for L Cafferky (54), H Reape for O’Connor (60).

Referee: G Chapman (Sligo).

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