Galway joined Kerry in the 2023 Lidl Ladies National League Division 1 Final with victory over Mayo on Sunday.
The Kingdom had already booked their place in the decider coming into Round 6 and they will face Galway after a hard fought 0-13 to 2-6 win over their Connacht rivals. Roisin Leonard scored 0-5 for the Tribeswomen and after leading 0-7 to 1-3 at half-time at MacHale Park in Castlebar, they did enough despite goals from Tara Needham and Rachel Kearns. Galway will also play Kerry next weekend in Tuam Stadium but they will both likely have their sights set on Croke Park next month.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the reigning champions were beaten by Waterford, where it finished 1-9 to 2-5 at Ballinlough. Niamh O’Sullivan and Amy O’Leary found the net for Meath but it wasn’t enough as Lauren McGregor bagged the decisive goal late on. On Friday, Dublin kept their slim hopes of reaching the Final alive when they claimed a 2-13 to 0-6 victory away to Donegal in Letterkenny. However, Galway’s win ended Dublin’s chances.
Finalists Kerry succumbed to their first defeat of the campaign when their Munster rivals Cork beat them 1-17 to 2-6 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
In Division 2, Armagh advanced to the Final after another impressive win. They got the better of Westmeath on a 3-15 to 1-6 scoreline. Tipperary look most likely to join them there but they still have to negotiate Round 7 after today’s 2-15 to 1-7 victory over Tyrone. Laois still have a chance of reaching the final too thanks to a 4-6 to 2-8 win against Cavan. Roscommon can still avoid relegation even though they could only draw, 0-13 to 0-13, with fellow strugglers Monaghan.
It’s still all to play for at both ends of the table in Division 3, where there were victories for leaders Kildare, Wexford, Down and Clare.
Galway 0-13 | Mayo 2-6
Roisin Leonard scored 0-5 and Galway advanced to the Lidl NFL Division 1 Final after a one-point victory over Connacht rivals Mayo in MacHale Park, Castlebar.
— Score Beo (@Score_Beo) March 19, 2023
Four unanswered points through two Kate Slevin frees, Eva Noone and Ailbhe Davoren proved decisive after Mayo struck two goals from Tara Needham and Rachel Kearns. The heavy conditions made settling difficult as both teams tried to orchestrate scoring positions by gradually moving up the field. However, it led to dropped chances and wides, especially on a Galway side that kicked four in the opening quarter.
A pin-point ball on 13 minutes delivered the opening point as the hosts made the breakthrough. Lisa Cafferky held play before Fiona McHale sent the ball towards goal. Kearns’ involvement forced a defender to collide with Galway keeper Karen Connolly and Needham stroked the ball home. However, Galway reacted efficiently and were back on level terms within five minutes. Despite earlier misses, Leonard got off the mark on the quarter-hour and added another placed ball within 60 seconds.
A third opportunity on 18 minutes levelled affairs and with the radar in full flow now, a fourth free on 22 minutes put Galway ahead for the first time. However, it would be three minutes later before the Tribeswomen got their first from play and growing in confidence; Louise Ward supplied Olivia Divilly to register another point.
Mayo sensed the urgency and Needham replied three minutes later, before Eva Noone put Galway 0-6 to 1-1 up on 40 minutes. The pace was picking up even if the weather wasn’t improving. Substitute Deirdre Doherty converted a Mayo free in added-time before Kearns set up Needham to equalise. But Leonard’s fifth free gave the visitors a 0-7 to 1-3 interval advantage.
Eva Noone’s free and Aoife Molloy stretched the advantage to three after the restart but on 36 minutes, Mayo got a lifeline when Kearns reacted quickly to take a delivery from the right before slotting in a second goal. It was the equaliser and five minutes after, Shauna Howley played a one-two with Sinead Cafferky to put the hosts in front.
Mayo needed a result to secure their top flight status but Galway then kicked their four late points to go three ahead. Kearns landed a late Mayo double, leaving one between them. But the draw they needed didn’t happen setting them up for a relegation showdown with Donegal next week. For Galway, they’ll have a dress rehearsal with Kerry in Round 7 before the two teams meet in the league decider next month.
Cork 1-17 | Kerry 2-6
A goal from Hannah Looney helped Cork to a derby victory over Kerry in their Lidl NFL Division 1 clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The home side had to withstand a second-half comeback from the table-toppers to inflict a first league defeat on Kerry this season. Orlaith Cahalane opened the scoring for Cork in the second minute, picking up the loose ball after Katie Quirke’s shot on goal had been blocked. Eimear Kiely added a second from the restart as Cork pushed up to try and put pressure on the Kerry kick-outs.
Four minutes in, and from their first attack, Hannah O’Donoghue pointed for the Kingdom to make it 0-2 to 0-1. O’Donoghue thought she had levelled it, but her effort was ruled out for taking too many steps. Quirke combined with Sarah Leahy for the former to get Cork’s third point before O’Donoghue missed a good opportunity to reduce the gap.
Rachel Dwyer made it 0-3 to 0-2 as Kerry started to settle into the game. Kiely and Ciara O’Sullivan both scored to keep Cork ahead before they too had a goal chance ruled out for overcarrying. Libby Coppinger added a point, before Ciara O’Sullivan set up Hannah Looney for the game’s opening goal, to make it 1-6 to 0-2 with 19 minutes played.
O’Donoghue and Dwyer, from a free, responded for Kerry with Cahalane replying at the other end. Two more from Kiely saw Cork lead by 1-9 to 0-4 at half-time. Kiely started the second half as she finished the first, with two pointed frees to push the Rebels further in front. Cork were denied a second goal when Ciara Butler saved brilliant from Dara Kiniry’s effort.
Abigail Ring, on as sub at half-time, increased Cork’s lead to make it 1-12 to 0-4. But Kerry weren’t going to go away easily and Síofra O’Shea goaled for them to bring the visitors back into contention. Kiely and O’Shea exchanged scores as Cork led 1-13 to 1-5 with 15 minutes left. Three minutes later O’Shea got her, and Kerry’s, second goal to make it 1-15 to 2-5 as the visitors showed why they had been undefeated in the league to this point. Shauna Kelly scored again for Cork with O’Shea replying for Kerry as time ran out and Cork took the points on offer.