Galway vs Cora Staunton and Mayo in Connacht Ladies Football final
By JIM CARNEY
A NEW ERA dawns for Galway Ladies Gaelic football. Under new management since losing the National League Division 2 final to Mayo in early May, Galway face the same opposition in the TG4-sponsored Connacht Senior Championship final at McHale Park, Castlebar next Sunday.
The senior final will be played at 4.00 o’clock after the Gillespie’s of Tubbercurry-sponsored provincial Intermediate Championship final at 2.00pm, Roscommon vs Sligo.
Galway haven’t defeated Mayo in the Championship since 2009 (as pictured below), and since then it’s all been very disappointing at senior level, both on the direct route and through the ‘back door’ — getting no further than the All-Ireland quarter-finals, while there was also a National League final defeat by Cork in 2010.
The glory day at Croke Park was back in 2004, a fantastic All-Ireland final victory under the management of P. J. Fahy.
Galway lost the 2005 final and they were victims of a shocking decision in ’06 against Armagh in the semi-finals. The point — kicked by Barbara Hannon of Dunmore — that would’ve kept them in that game in the closing stages was ruled wide, although television pictures showed it was a score.
No luck since at the highest level, but the Galway girls never lost heart and now they’re ready to make a massive Championship effort again, with Gabriel Naughton of Caltra at the helm, assisted by John Fleming, Kilkerrin-Clonberne; Shane Curley, Glinsk; trainer Nigel Concannon, a Barna clubman, and liaison officer Martina Cummins, St Michael’s.
The management team have got a magnificent response to training in recent weeks, with 40 making themselves available for the panel, but that’s now been cut to 36, so there’s keen competition for places.
Captain is Claire Hehir from Milltown, with Barbara Hannon vice-captain.
Although Galway are going to Castlebar on Sunday to win, it’s probably asking too much of them as Mayo are settled, assured and already successful this season, with that League Div. 2 title and promotion to the premier grade, where they were once so dominant. And even more so in the Championship: winners of four All-Ireland Senior Championships and five National Leagues in the Cora Staunton era. The legendary forward from Carnacon also won three Club Championship medals and six All-Stars; she’s 30 this year and playing in her 17th season. Once more, as always down through the years, she stands between Galway and the Connacht crown.
In this week’s Mayo News, Cora says she’s as keen as ever and, looking forward to the Connacht final, it’s a case of Mayo concentrating on their own game but she is expecting a tough test from Galway and feels “they will have huge motivation” to reverse the League outcome.
Best of luck from Herald Sport to the Galway team at Castlebar on Sunday.