Galway 1-19 Cork 1-17 (after extra time)
THEY may not have reached a league final, but Cork will have learned a lot from their league semi-final in Nowlan Park.
From the outset Galway’s work-rate was ferocious, an intensity Cork haven’t been used to in the league to date. Frees were plentiful, 11 inside the opening seventeen minutes with a number of stoppages preventing any real flow to the game.
Galway’s Aoife Donoghue was playing very deep. At times during the first half Galway played too deep, Cork’s full-back line often outnumbering them. A defensive error gave Galway their opening goal, a lateral side-line went to no man’s land and Siobhan McGrath was the one to collect and strike it past Amy Lee.
Carrie Dolan was playing well but two frees from difficult angles went wide which would have pushed Galway six points ahead. With an unusual style of almost having her back to goal the better option would have been to find a teammate.
Ref Liz Dempsey was very picky on steps and Orla Cronin struck Cork’s fourth point as a result on 25 leaving a goal between the sides. Amy O’Connor had seen little ball. Suddenly she sprung, chasing and dispossessing Galway as they came out of defence and was on hand to receive the pass inside from Ashling Thompson. With still plenty to do from 35 yards of ground to cover, her pace won out and it was a brilliant finish to the net.
Laura Hayes mounted a torpedo over the bar to put Cork back in the lead.
Mackey was finding space around the middle as Carrie Dolan missed a scoreable free which would have seen Galway level instead of trailing 1-7 to 1-6 at the break.
Galway missed two scorable points on the restart, Orla Cronin hit over before two Dolan frees brought the game level.
It’s notable that Galway weren’t really making headway up front. With 40 minutes on the clock, they had 1-3 from play. As Cork try to settle a full-back line, they may have found it in Ellen Murphy, Libby Coppinger and Meabh Cahalane.
A flash of brilliance by Aoife Donoghue produced a big moment, winning a penalty on 50 minutes. But Carrie Dolan opted to hit it over the bar.
Cork introduced three substitutes for the final 10 minutes which swung the pendulum.
Saoirse McCarthy hit a wonderful point. Izzy O’Regan went through, got hooked and Ashling Thompson won a penalty. Two points down with three minutes remaining Chloe Sigerson, unfortunately, struck wide.
Mackey brought it down to one after Carrie Dolan again took the wrong decision with a difficult free. A second bad wide could have seen the game out for Galway but then Cliona Healy rescued Cork with a wonderful strike to push the game to extra time.
Aoife Donohue moved to the inside line and caused massive problems, hitting two. Sigerson replied and Rebecca Hennelly made the distance three at the end of the first half of extra time.
Again, Donohue scored. Mackey went off with an injury and Carrie Dolan saw the line for a second yellow. Cork now seemed to be everywhere. It was down to two. But Cork missed a free, converted another and in injury time Galway won a 45 to close the game out.