“WE were delighted with the win, but the performance wasn’t up to scratch and if we turn up against Cork in the first half the way we did against Waterford, then we’re certainly not going to get over the line.”
Those were the words spoken by Galway senior camogie manager Cathal Murray when I spoke with him during the week.
He’s right. Galway were very poor against Waterford and but for the lack of more clinical finishing up front by Waterford, Galway’s season would be over.
They seemed to have no system to their play, their distribution looked more hit and hope, with long deliveries often going to a Waterford player and Galway certainly losing the half-forward line battle under the high dropping ball.
Galway were lucky to be in the game entering the final quarter, the brilliant accuracy of free-taker Carrie Dolan a highlight of the game and keeping her side in it.
To be fair, much of the frees were warranted with Waterford doing too much jersey pulling.
It was an unusual start with two goals inside the opening two minutes. With Waterford still warming up, Aoife Donohue goaled after a run through the middle from the throw-in.
Aoife was the only Galway player I saw playing with any intensity from the outset.
She worked her socks off in the middle of the park, assisting teammates up front and in defence.
Waterford’s goal came as a result of a penalty.
Yes, the ball bounced and skidding a bit in front of keeper Sarah Healy, but I thought her positioning between the posts was incorrect.
Waterford’s second goal from a long distance free on 27 minutes also went straight to the net.
I didn’t see Sarah take any control of the square or her defenders in front of her and it was a very soft goal.
She is only 18 years of age and she looked nervous and slightly uncomfortable to me.
She was possibly overawed by the occasion and with far more at stake on Saturday Galway will need her to be more self-assured.
Amazingly, she doesn’t play in goal for her club and for such a specialised position I find it strange that she holds it for her county.
It also looked as it Galway hadn’t done much work around their puck-outs.
There was no run of a pattern and a few went astray.
When one looks at the leadership Aoife Murray provides from the number one spot, it’s a key area for Galway that needs some work.
To Sarah’s credit, she made two good saves just after half time which would truly have put Waterford in the driving seat.
Sarah is young and needs guidance and development.
If Cork get through on goal they could capitalise here.
Considering the unrest that existed in Galway during the period 2015-2018, it is a big boost for them to be in the last four.
Murray took over in April 2018 as Galway’s fifth manager in four seasons after Tony O’Donovan was replaced at the end of the 2018 National League.
Building pride in the Galway jersey again must have been a big task.
Cathal acknowledges the bigger task that presents itself tomorrow.
“It’s nice to be in a semi-final again but we’re up against it.
“Cork going for three-in-a-row and five All-Irelands in six years speaks for itself, but we’ll be hoping to put in a performance.
“It’s a massive challenge but we’re looking forward to it. We’ve nothing to lose”
Galway have injury concerns to Catriona Cormican and Niamh Hannify. Niamh, who missed the quarter-final, is still a big doubt for Galway and she is a significant loss.
Her loss is mirrored on the Cork side if Katrina Mackey fails to make it.
Medical advice is that Katrina is out and will be out for a number of months due to ligament but more critically, nerve damage to her wrist.
She sustained the injury against Dublin on July 6 and hasn’t figured for Cork since.
The fracture also sustained has healed.
Whether she starts and tries to play through the pain is the question at the time of writing but realistically how effective could she be for Cork in that position.
You could say that Galway had a touch of complacency about them for the quarter-final, but one must give credit to Waterford too.
They play with conviction and are in your face from the word go.
They gave Cork a stern test on July 21 and just like last Saturday it was only in the final quarter that Cork pulled away.
Cork also showed complacency that day.
When Galway increased their intensity and stood up to Waterford for the final quarter, they turned the tide.
They won’t bring any complacency to the Gaelic Grounds tomorrow.
Teams will always raise their game when playing the champions.
Cork have more experience, are more battle-hardened and if they bring the right approach to tomorrow’s game, they’ll be in another All-Ireland final come 8.30pm.
Kilkenny and Tipperary play in the preceding game and there will be extra-time in both games if required.