By Jackie Cahill at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford
Yvonne McMonagle nailed a winning free with the last kick of the game to send Donegal through to the quarter-finals of the TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football championship.
McMonagle, who bagged 1-8 at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford, held her nerve to convert the free she had won herself - as Donegal stunned beaten Connacht finalists Galway in front of a big crowd.
Minus a host of top stars for a variety of reasons, Donegal were viewed as outsiders before throw-in but they edged home in a dramatic finish to set up a last-eight clash with Dublin back at the same venue on August 13.
With just three minutes left, Donegal were four points clear but Galway brought Roisín Leonard off the bench and she netted with her first touch before landing an equalising free.
There was still time for Donegal to launch one last attack, however, and McMonagle struck gold after she was fouled by Noelle Connolly to help erase the memories of a shock Ulster semi-final defeat to Cavan.
There was also a stellar contribution from Donegal corner forward Amber Barrett, who collected a personal haul of 2-3, including two penalty goals.
Donegal led by 2-8 to 1-7 at the break, Barrett’s first penalty on the stroke of half-time giving Michael Naughton’s charges a two-point lead.
Despite being without a number of first choice players, Donegal showed scant regard for Galway’s reputation, recovering from a 0-1 to 0-4 deficit to make a real game of it.
Barrett was on song and while Geraldine McLaughlin is currently in the US, her former sidekick McMonagle is one of the most prolific forwards on the game when in the mood.
And after Donegal had drawn level at 0-4 apiece, with the breeze advantage, McMonagle slammed home a brilliant 11th-minute goal, taking a super pass from Roisín Friel before drilling a shot into the bottom corner.
But Galway responded in kind four minutes later as Maria Hoey scorched through for a goal that levelled matters at 1-5 apiece.
McMonagle and Galway’s impressive forward Gillian O’Connor, a late replacement for Leonard, traded points before Karen Guthrie’s second free nudged Donegal 1-7 to 1-6 in front.
Back came Galway with a brace of quick-fire points from Mairéad Seoighe, the first from a free, but Donegal hit back in style before the break as Barrett took her tally to 1-2 for the half.
McMonagle converted a free to open the second half scoring but Nicola Ward netted a 34th-minute goal for the Tribeswomen, as they struck the first significant blow after the break.
In what would turn out to be a gripping second half, the sides were now level at 2-8 apiece and Galway had their third goal 14 minutes from time when Seoighe took a pass from Edel Concannon and finished well.
Back came Donegal two minutes later as Barrett converted her second penalty after player of the match McMonagle was fouled.
Barrett forced a brilliant save from Tina Hughes as Donegal attacked again and the pre-match underdogs moved four points clear down the home straight, with Guthrie hitting another free and Barrett pointing from play.
Leonard dragged Galway back from the brink but just when extra-time looked certain, McMonagle held her nerve to fire over the winner with the time clock at zero.
Meanwhile, Westmeath will play Connacht champions Mayo in the TG4 All-Ireland ladies SFC quarter-finals on August 13.
Westmeath enjoyed a massive 3-20 to 1-4 victory over neighbours Meath at Cusack Park, Mullingar, in this afternoon’s early qualifier.
Lucy McCartan scored two goals and Leona Archibold the other as the Lake County stormed into a 3-11 to 0-0 interval lead.
Meath finally opened their match account with 20 minutes of normal time remaining and Niamh O’Sullivan scored a consolation goal for the outclassed Royals.
Scorers for Donegal: Y McMonagle 1-8 (0-4f), A Barrett 2-3 (2-0 pens), K Guthrie 0-3f, K Herron 0-1.
Scorers for Galway: M Seoighe 1-3 (0-1f), R Leonard 1-1 (0-1f), N Ward & M Hoey 1-0 each, G O’Connor & E Concannon (1f) 0-3 each, O Divilly 0-1.
DONEGAL: A McColgan; T Doherty, K Herron, K Wilson; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, D Foley, G Houston, K Guthrie; R Friel, N Hegarty, K McKinney; E Ward, Y McMonagle, A Barrett.
Sub: P McGroary for Friel (52).
GALWAY: T Hughes; S Gormally, N Connolly, S Hynes; F Cooney, N Ward, M Heneghan; M Hoey, P Gleeson; M Glynn, L Ward, O Divilly; M Seoighe, G O’Connor, E Concannon.
Subs: L Gannon for Gleeson (40), C Cooney for Glynn (49), N Burke for Hynes (52), R Leonard for Seoighe (66).
Referee: Y Duffy (Cavan).