Nicola Ward of Galway in action against Anne Marie Logue of Donegal
A scarcely believable two-minute spell right at the start of the second half rendered three Galway goals against Donegal at Markievicz Park to seal the Connacht side’s place in the last eight of the TG4 All Ireland Senior Championship.
Donegal looked reasonably comfortable at the break, winning 1-6 to 0-4 but Galway lit the blue touch paper when Nicola Ward grabbed a goal from the first attack of the second half to get her side going.
That, though, wasn’t even half the story as Ailish Morrissey, only on since half time, grabbed another Galway goal having pushed up on Donegal, who were struggling to get downfield.
Then, a third goal, with the clock at 31:51, Morrissey slammed into an empty net from Megan Glynn’s pass and it was 3-4 to 1-6. Suddenly, from four down Galway were five up and in control and by the three-quarter mark were 3-8 to 1-10 in front.
Galway were defending in numbers and with intensity and things that were working for Donegal in the first half, they were now seeing a block or a body get in the way. When Niamh McLaughlin, the Donegal captain, did get a sight at goal she was unfortunate to rattle the crossbar and Galway held on to win and seal their passage.
It could all have been so different for Donegal. Katy Herron blasted home an 11th minute goal, finishing off a move that saw Karen Guthrie provide the assist after Geraldine McLaughlin’s ball in to give Donegal a 1-2 to 0-2 lead.
Galway knew a draw would get them a quarter-final place, following their 2-12 to 2-11 victory over Kerry last weekend. Donegal hadn’t been in competitive action since overcoming Cavan 6-16 to 2-17 in the Ulster semi-final last month.
By the first half-water break, Donegal were 1-4 to 0-2 in front, with Niamh Hegarty and Guthrie adding to a couple of McLaughlin frees.
Galway’s attack was based around the pivot of Megan Glynn and although trailing by five had as much of the play, only to hit fives wides with Donegal having not registered a single one. Right before the end of the first quarter, Kate Slevin got away but shot across Aoife McColgan’s goal from a tight angle.
Olivia Divilly scored two points for Galway in the second quarter, as did Guthrie for Donegal so the five-point gap was still intact at the interval, 1-6 to 0-4.
When Donegal beat Galway 4-21 to 2-11 in the league at Tuam Stadium not so long ago, manager Maxi Curran said his side "may have poked the bear". There was little evidence of the bear in the first half in Sligo. However, the second would tell a different story.
When Galway manager Gerry Fahy threw Ailish Morrissey on at half-time and went for broke, he didn’t think he’d be picking up the dividends before the money had left his account.
That’s exactly what happened, though. Donegal take on Kerry next weekend in Tuam, where Curran’s team know now it;s win or bust.
Donegal: Aoife McColgan; Niamh Carr, Evelyn McGinley, Emer Gallagher; Amy Boyle Carr, Nicole McLaughlin, Roisin Rodgers; Katy Herron (1-1), Shelly Twohig; Bláthnáid McLaughlin, Niamh McLaughlin, Niamh Boyle; Niamh Hegarty (0-1), Karen Guthrie (0-3, 1f), Geraldine McLaughlin (0-6, 3f). Subs: Kate Keaney for N Boyle (30+2), Annie Logue for B McLaughlin (38), Therese Jenkins for Keaney (56) Roisin McCafferty for Rodgers (59)
Galway: Dearbhla Gower; Sophie Healy, Sarah Lynch, Shauna Molloy; Kate Geraghty, Nicola Ward (1-0), Charlotte Cooney; Siobhan Divilly, Ailbhe Davoren; Olivia Divilly (0-5, 3f), Megan Glynn (0-1), Leanne Coen; Hannah Noone (0-1), Louise Ward (0-1), Kate Slevin. Subs: Laura Aherne for Healy (30+2). Ailish Morrissey (2-1) for Slevin (half-time), Mairead Seoighe for A Davoren (37), Roisin Leonard for Davoren (46), for Emma Reaney (0-1) for Coen (53)
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo)
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