Luckless ladies just lose out

Mayo went into today’s ladies’ All-Ireland senior football semi-final against Galway as outsiders but in a sun-washed Croke Park they put in a real battling display, just losing out at the finish by a single point on a scoreline of 2-10 to 2-9. It was rough justice to come up short by the minimum margin in a game where fortunes swung back and over during the hour.

Just under 11,000 came to Croke Park for this double-header and with everyone packed into the Lower Hogan it made for a real Championship atmosphere at HQ. There was plenty of Mayo support in evidence too and they made their presence felt right throughout this rip-roaring contest.

Galway struck the first significant blow. Their hard-running, quick-offloading game cause the Mayo rearguard plenty of problems right throughout the first half and after just three minutes they had the ball in the net.

The goal came from a fast downfield move, with Mairéad Seoighe losing her marker and ghosting into space. Once the ball was played into her she finished emphatically to fire Galway a goal up.

Ten minutes were played before we got off the mark, Sinéad Cafferkey pointing, but they hit back in kind straight away at the other end. They added another point soon after to stretch their lead to four.

But we responded well. A nice move saw a pinpoint long pass played into the unmarked Éilis Roynane who squared it for Rachel Kearns to blast home.

Any sense of joy amongst the Mayo following was, though, dented a few minutes later. Another slick Galway move saw Seoighe again evade our backline cover and once again finish to the net.

The match threatened to run away from us then. To their credit, though, the Mayo ladies kept the scoreboard moving and by half-time they’d pared the deficit back to two points.

Galway got the first point after the break but then we replied with the score of the game. Team captain Niamh Kelly gathered possession at pace on halfway and surged straight at the Galway defence. Slaloming through the cover, she bore down on goal and finished with aplomb off the outside of her boot. Here, see it for yourself:

The confidence that surged through the team in the wake of that goal was evident all over the pitch. Now we were the team battling hardest and winning the 50:50 contests, raiding forward repeatedly. We had, though, a massive let-off when a goal effort for Galway cannoned back off the butt of the upright.

We pushed ahead for the first time when Sarah Rowe pointed a free with fifteen minutes to go. But Galway levelled it up immediately, as they did again after Rachel Kearns had edged us back in front.

Then, with twelve minutes left on the clock, came one of the game’s real turning points. Niamh Kelly took off on another scorching run but less than thirty yards from goal she was poleaxed by Galway’s Olivia Divilly. It had to be at least a yellow – and, with it, ten minutes in the sin-bin – but, incredibly the Galway player escaped with just a tick from the card-averse ref.

Sub Natasha Gaughan nailed the free and we were one up again but that proved to be our final score of the game. With the clock ticking remorselessly down, we strove to hang on, missing more than one chance to give us a bit more breathing space coming down the tense closing stretch.

With seven minutes to go Galway equalised and the tension ratcheted up another few notches. Both sides had chances to add to their tally but both failed to do so and down the clock continued to count.

Eventually, Galway were awarded a free well within range that looked – through these slightly biased eyes – more than a little on the soft side. There was less than two minutes to go to the hooter when Róisín Leonard rammed her placed-ball effort over the bar for what proved to be the winner.

We drove forward, desperately searching for an equaliser. It looked like we were going to get one too when Rachel Kearns was fouled close to goal. As is Croke Park practice – more unsustainable by the day – there were no replays to show what had happened but watching it back on TV later on it was clear that Rachel had hopped the ball twice before she was felled and so the free out was the correct decision.

Galway only had to play keep-ball for a matter of seconds, which they did successfully, to close out the win and so qualify for their first All-Ireland final since 2005. There they’ll meet three-in-a-row chasing Dublin who had six points to spare over Cork in the day’s second semi-final.

So it’s the end of the road this year for the Mayo ladies. They can, however, look back with a significant amount of satisfaction on the progress they’ve made in 2019. This largely new, young team did really well to make it as far as the All-Ireland semi-final and to perform so strongly at Croke Park today. That’s a great platform to take into 2020. Hard luck on today’s narrow loss but here’s to better days to come for them.

Mayo: Aishling Tarpey; Éilis Roynane, Danielle Caldwell, Ciara McManamon; Kathryn Sullivan, Dayna Finn, Ciara Whyte; Clodagh McManamon, Aileen Gilroy; Sinéad Cafferky (0-1), Niamh Kelly (1-1), Fiona Doherty; Sarah Rowe (0-1, free), Rachel Kearns (1-2), Grace Kelly (0-3, two frees). Subs: Lisa Cafferky for Doherty, Emma Needham for Sullivan, Natasha Gaughan (0-1, free) for Rowe, Alannah Duffy for Clodagh McManamon, Noirín Moran for Whyte.

12 thoughts on “Luckless ladies just lose out

  1. You’re so right about the foul by Divilly on Niamh Kelly. An absolute stone wall yellow card. Could have been the difference in a game of very tight margins. Good game overall Thought Mayo played well and unlucky to lose

  2. Hard luck to the Mayo ladies they did very well to get to the Semi Final I know they won’t want to hear that now as they’ll be gutted but they did well and can hold their heads up high and they represented us well and did their best

  3. Brilliant performance by Mayo ladies today. Were the better team just shooting letting them down Thought Rachel Kearnes was brilliant. Maybe better they do not face Dublin this year. The team is building very nicely under Peter Leahy.

  4. I agree Vaaldam. This year would be too soon for them to meet the Dubs. Like the lads, they must work on their shooting.
    Then they won’t fear anyone. Well done girls. A great performance in a really great and exciting match.

    And good luck to Galway in the final. They will need it all. But they do have some really good players and there can only be the same number as them against them. Up the west.

  5. Thought the ladies were brilliant today. Really deserved to win. They have improved steadily and the future is bright. They can hold their heads up very high although I know tonight they are very dissapointed.

  6. I would like to see a replay of the moments before the free out against Rachel Kearns for the double hop. I thought that the ref had indicated advantage to her before the double hop and so did some of the commentators on the RTE radio after the games. If he did why the change to a free out? If she had not double hopped and been fouled again, as she was, would the free not have been from where the original foul occurred? RTE’s report on their website totally avoided the issue too although their headline indicated last minute controversy.
    I have been following Ladies football for some years now and have to say that the game has got much more physical. The old rule of no deliberate physical contact has gone out the window and as Cork manager, Ephie Fiitzgerald said it is impossible to know what is a foul or yellow card now. A lot has been said about the need to update the rules on Camogie for the same reason. I am not being derogatory in saying that ladies are not quite as “ladylike” as they used to be, at least where football and camogie is concerned. There is no reason why they should be as “ladylike” as in the old days. They have, after all, taken up boxing since the rules were first written.

  7. Correct AndyD, the ref had his hand up for a free but didn’t give it, thought he was poor throughout out whereas the female ref in the 2nd game was much more decisive and seemed to know the rules.
    What really struck me was the fitness and yes the physicality of the games. This Mayo team will improve but a free taker has to be found, apart from her free taking Kearns had a fantastic game.

  8. On that late free, Peter Leahy is obviously hopping mad (pardon the pun) and is alleging that some ad hoc VAR could have had a bearing on the decision to overturn the decision to award the free for the foul on Rachel Kearns. RTÉ report here.

  9. Proud of Leahy and the Mayo ladies. Well done to all involved.
    Good luck Galway in the final. Their no3 and no11 were excellent.

  10. Thought Rachel didn’t need to go the extra few yards going for goal. Should have steadied and just gone for equalising point. In real time I was hopping for a penalty and incredulous when free out was given. When I found out it later was a technical foul couldn’t argue. VAR or not a point was the better option.

  11. Disappointed to see only 10 comments on the match. Surely the ladies are entitled to more interest than that considering the efforts they put in to reach the standards they were at on Sunday? The Mayo support on the day was poor too and I accept that people put so much into following the men’s team and cannot be expected to travel to Croker for every game. But there are a huge number of Mayo people living in the Dublin area who might have been there but were not. I’m also taking into account the club games in Mayo on the day and accept that pressure on fixtures make those clashes unavoidable.

  12. Hard luck to our ladies team. They are a credit to our county, their families and their clubs.
    What a performance from a new young team. The future is bright for team and manager.

    Mayo Abu

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