It’s was a glorious summers day yesterday as the sun beat down on the pitch in Parnells GAA Club in Coolock and the temperature rose to a Mediterranean 27 degrees for the meeting of Dublin and Galway in the Liberty Insurance All Ireland Senior Camogie Championship.
Galway were playing their first game of the 2017 championship while their hosts Dublin were playing their second game in a week having enjoyed a victory over Clare at the same venue the previous weekend.
That extra match sharpness was telling in the early part of the first half with Dublin racing into a 1-05 to 0-02 lead with just 12 minutes played.
Dublin scored the first point of the contest with a well struck free from Aisling Maher. But two quick frees dispatched by the impressive Ailish O’Reilly who finished top scorer on the day with 0-11 put Galway in front.
Dublin responded by scoring an unanswered 1-04. Miriam Twomey who for the second week in a row was superb for the girls in blue played a ball down the line, Aishling Maher collected the pass and hit a sublime point from out on the sideline to bring the sides level.
Galway were struggling to live with the pace and movement of Dublin in the early stages and that forced them into giving away frees which the Dubs gladly punished them for.
The Dubs net minder Faye McCarthy in only her first season at senior level is making a name for herself as an accurate dead ball specialist and she hit a beauty from distance out on the right hand sideline to give her side the lead.
Moments later Faye hit another free from about 80m out, it was bang on the money as far as accuracy was concerned as it arrowed towards the posts, but as it dropped towards the danger zone the Galway defence panicked, one of their defenders swung and missed the ball and it flew past the goalkeeper into the back of the net.
Moments later and McCarthy knocked over another free after Miriam Twomey was fouled. Galway were struggling to stop the strong running of the Dublin side and even when they did get the ball forward the girls from the West were met with ferocious tackling from the Dubs defensive unit.
Another McCarthy long range free dropped short and was snapped up by Siobhan Kehoe and the Naomh Fionnbarra player hit an excellent point.
Even at this early stage of the game it was hard to see how Galway were going to get back into the game, but they were helped by some poor indecisive defending from Dublin and they will be very disappointed with the two very soft goals they conceded in the 14th and 23rd minute both dispatched by Aoife Donohue, both goals were avoidable and they turned the game on its head and sparked life into a Galway side that had been gasping for air.
Dublin in fairness to them responded to the concession of each goal with points from Ali Twomey and Aisling Maher after the first goal and Siobhan Kehoe and Eimear McCarthy after the second goal.
Although the girls from the Capital had the better of the first half and should have been five or six points to the good, they found themselves two points adrift at the break with the score at halftime 2-08 to 1-09 in Galway’s favour.
Dublin were still very much in the game and when Faye McCarthy hit another booming free from distance to put the bare minimum between the sides, the large crowd in attendance were expecting a tight and thrilling contest till the finish.
But that was as good as it got for Dublin, Galway wary of the strong runs from deep from the girls in blue, played with an extra defender for the second half and they sniffed out the avenues of attack for David Herity’s team.
Time and time again Galway’s halfback line of Lorraine Ryan, Rebecca Hennelly and Heather Cooney repelled the sky blues attack and Galway countered on the break.
The Dublin forwards were also guilty of allowing themselves to be dragged too deep and numerous attacks broke down as balls played into forward positions were easily defended by the Connaught sides keeper and sweeper unchallenged as Dublin’s full forward line were too far away from the some excellent passes into space.
Although the Dubs defended valiantly in the second half combination of playing in particular Aisling Carolan, a combination of the relentless pressure and playing a second game inside seven days in the searing heat yesterday finally told.
Dublin conceded 1-05 from a number of frees and a penalty as Galway pulled away going down the home straight. A well worked move ended with Faye McCarthy having no choice but to rush from her goal in an effort to avoid conceding a three pointer but she was adjudged to have fouled the Galway forward and a penalty was awarded, up stepped Rebecca Hennelly to finish it to the net and raise the Connaught sides third green flag of the game.
It was the score to finally seal the victory for the Tribeswomen, but Dublin battled bravely to the end but they just couldn’t create the scoring opportunities they needed and they only managed three second half points all of them from placed balls.
It was a disappointing result for the Dubs particularly after their excellent first half performance. Dublin will now have a break of three weeks before they travel to play Waterford in their next group game. That will give them time to work on the harsh lessons from their defeat to Galway and put them right for the next day. It will also hopefully give them the chance to get some of their missing players back from injury and also see the return of the players missing due to the Leaving Certificate.
That would be a welcome boost to a Dublin squad that only had 20 players available yesterday for selection which severely hampered their options from the bench.
Faye McCarthy 1-04
Aisling Maher 0-03
Siobhan Kehoe 0-02
Eimear McCarthy 0-01
Alison Maguire 0-01
Ailish O’Reilly 0-11
Aoife Donohue 2-03
Maria Cooney 0-01
Niamh McGrath 0-01
Fiona Keely 0-01
Noreen Coen 0-01
Referee: Liz Dempsey