Staunton gives Mayo a winning start


Staunton gives Mayo a winning start
MAYO 2-6 GALWAY 1-6 By Ivan Neill of
the Western People

CONNACHT Championship titles are never
won in the month of February. Nevertheless, Mayo ladies
senior footballers delivered a psychological blow to fuel
their summer desire to complete a hat-trick of provincial
titles by defeating championship contenders Galway in the
opening round of the Suzuki National league on Sunday.

It was supposed to have been a home game for the All-Ireland
champions, but Mother Nature forced the clash across the
border to Galway soil following inspection of two South
Mayo grounds. Waterlogged Flanagan Park, Ballinrobe, was
declared unplayable and twenty minutes later Dublin referee
Tony Lennon also deemed Glencorrib pitch unplayable. So,
as a last resort, the two teams and supporters set off for
Headford but, here, following an inspection of the pitch,
the referee said he had reservations about particular areas
of the grounds and did not believe it was safe to play the
game. However, he subesquently agreed to start the game
if the pitch was prepared, with suitable markings. Eventually,
the game got underway one hour and forty minutes behind

Mayo were forced to make one change from the selected fifteen
when Edel Reilly was hit in the eye by flying mud in the
warm-up at Flanagan Park and was unable to line out at Headford.

Hard work

Both team managers would have taken some positives and some
negatives from the clash but a lot of hard work remains
to be done before the counties face each other again in
the championship at Tuam Stadium on June 27. Cora Staunton,
minus the heavy knee strap she was forced to carry all through
last year’s campaign, appeared to be returning to her most
destructive best. The Carnacon wizard proved a nightmare
for the Galway defence all through and accounted for 1-6
of the side’s total, after hammering a second-half penalty
over the bar shortly after the retart.

Yvonne Byrne and Helena Lohan stood out on the Mayo full-back
line, however the half-back line of Jackie Moran, Nuala
O’Shea and Claire O’Hara were always stretched to keep a
tight rein on Galway’s most dangerous attackers, Edel Concannan,
Niamh Fahy and Geradline Conneely. Ciara McDermot turned
in a fine game at midfield for Mayo but, other than Cora
Staunton, the Mayo attack left a lot to be desired. In fact
the Mayo attack landed just a singe point from play over
the entire sixty minutes, four points coming from frees
and one from a penalty. In addition, Mayo went through a
twenty minute scoreless spell also in the first half, while
their only score from play over the hour was Cora Staunton’s
goal in the opening quarter. Galway were without midfielder
Patricia Gleeson, Rebecca McPhilbin, Deirdre Heverin and
Gillian Joyce, while Mayo were short the McGing sisters,
Michelle and Sharon.

Held initiative

Except for a period between the 9th minute and the end of
the first quarter, Galway held the initiative in the first
period but could only manage one point in the second, that
from a free three minutes from the end by Annette Clarke.
Galway were afforded chances earlier to have cut back a
four points deficit, but their persistence with the short-passing
game and failure to convert at least three scoreable frees
proved costly. Within one minute of the start Mayo had a
lucky let-off when Lorna Joyce slipped inside the Mayo to
collect a pass but her goal attempt from six metres hit
the upright and went out over the endline. The sides were
locked at 0-1 each when a fine delivery by Diane O”Hora
into the Galway goalmouth was flicked to the net over the
heads of an unsuspecting Galway defence by the ever-alert
Cora Staunton.

Galway completely dominated the second quarter to outscore
Mayo by 1-4 to 0-1. Geraldine Conneely, Philomena Flaherty
and Lisa Cohill had the sides level for a second time by
the19th minute before the ever-dangerous Edel Concannon
broke through for a goal in the 25th after running on to
collect a return pass from Niamh Fahy. Geraldine Conneely
increased the advantage to 1-5 to 1-1 before Mayo broke
a scoreless twenty minutes spell with a Cora Staunton point
from a difficult free kick.

With the increasing wind behind them on the restart, Mayo
took the game to their opponents and within minute were
awarded a penalty after Diana O’Hora was taken down close
to the goal line. However, despite Cora Staunton’s attempt
to blast the ball to the roof of the net to the left of
the Galway custodian, Una Carroll, the ball flew over the


Mayo continued to pile on the pressure and in the 38th minute
Cora Staunton forced the Galway goalkeeper to make a fine
reflex save at the expence of a ’45. One minute later the
Carnacon club player was held in the square and from the
resulting penalty, Yvonne Byrne fired an unstoppable shot
to the net to put Mayo back in front for the first time
since the 9th minute. Three more points by Cora Staunton
had Mayo enjoying a four points advantage with ten minutes
remaining. A more determined effort by the Galway ladies
increased the pressure on the Mayo defence right to the
end. Frees by Geraldine Conneely fell short on three occasions
before midfielder Annette Clarke had better luck from another
free to narrow the gap down to three points. But time ran
out before another attack could be mounted.

Mayo are away to Kerry next Sunday in the second round,
next Sunday.


Mayo: Cora Staunton 1-6 (0-4f, 0-1pen), Yvonne Byrne
1-0 (pen).
Galway: Edel Concannon 1-0, Lorna Joyce, Lisa Cohill
and Geraldine Conneely 0-2 each, Philomena Flaherty and
Annette Clarke 0-1 each.

Mayo: D. Horan; M. T. Garvey, H. Lohan, Y. Byrne;
J. Moran, N. O’Shea (capt), C. O’Hara; C. Egan, C. McDermott;
M. Carter, C. Heffernan, M. Heffernan; D. O’Hora, C. Staunton,
T. McNicholas.
Subs used: P. Fitzgerald, E. Mullin, J. O’Hara.
Galway: U. Carroll; M. O’Connell, K. Stenson, F.
Wynne; A. Daly, E. Flaherty, E. O’Malley; A. Clarke, L.
Cohill; E.Concannon, N. Fahy, G. Connelly; H. Carroll, P.
Flaherty, L. Joyce.
Referee: T. Lennon (Dublin).

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