Cork will battle, but won't be good enough for Galway

GALWAY hope to end a bad fortnight for champions with victory in tomorrow's All-Ireland Ladies SFC final at Croke Park tomorrow.

Kerry (football), Kilkenny (U21 hurling) and Tipperary (camogie) all failed to retain their titles on decider days.

Against them are a Cork side with plenty of motivation. With the hurling and camogie crowns already Leeside, there is huge expectation this side can land the yea's last national GAA title.

For all their underage success, the Munster champions are without a senior. But recent signs are positive with the Waterford/Kerry monopoly ended and an NFL title delivered this year, ironically against Galway.

Dan O'Mahony from Donoughmore, President of the Cork County Board (as well as being Munster president) traces the development of the game back to 2000 when they contested the All-Ireland U14 championship final for the first time.

"That led to success at U16 and U18 level, as well as in the club championships with different teams from the county. It means that most of the present team hold All-Ireland medals and that experience has stood them in good stead,'' he said.

Just like Galway manager Richard Bowles - a native of Oola and lecturing in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick - he is largely dismissive of form in the League decider in May.

"I would not even consider that game. The Galway team we saw that day was not the Galway team we saw in the All-Ireland final last year. They go into tomorrow's final as hot favourites, but at the same time Cork will be quietly confident.''

In five championship games Cork hit four goals, conceding eight. Galway have 16 goals to their credit and only three went past 17-year-old goalkeeper Una Carroll, one of their youngest players. Age-wise, however, the Cork team is younger, with eight of their players under the age of 20.

Bowles agrees that while aspects of their semi-final display - like their work-rate - were satisfactory, there is always room for improvement.

"We need to hold on to possession better and take more scores,'' he said.

"The performance we gave against Dublin wasn't our best. You are always trying to improve - that's what keeps a team fresh. The day you think everything is right, that's the day that things can go wrong.

"In the League final, we did not perform to the best of our ability, but that was a long time ago and the team now is slightly different. Of course it gives us an added incentive to beat Cork. We would hope that the experience we have gained from competing in last year's final will stand to us, but we know that Cork are young and they are hungry.''

Galway are a formidable side, with two extremely talented footballers in Niamh Duggan at centre-forward and Niamh Fahy at full-forward.

Cork will benefit from the victory of the camogie team, not least five of their girls are on the two panels. If they are to win, they will have to be much more consistent during the game and curb the scoring threat of the Galway forwards. However, as much as I was impressed by their fighting display against Mayo, I don't believe they are good enough to win.

*In addition to the live television coverage, which starts at 1 o'clock, the game will also be shown on the station's website (www.tg4.ie).

GALWAY: U Carroll; M Glynn, R Stephens, AM McDonagh, M O'Connell, A Daly, E Flaherty, A Clarke, E Concannon, G Conneely, N Duggan, P Ni Fhlatharta, R McPhilbin, N Fahey, L Joyce.

CORK: E Harte; B Stack, A Walsh, R Buckley, B Corkery, C Walsh, S O'Reilly, J Murphy, N Kelly, A Murphy, R Curtin, N Cleary, V Mulcahy, C Creedon, G O'Flynn.

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