Galway on course for crack at double

Galway 2-10 Dublin 0-7

And, on the evidence of this polished display in Portlaoise on Saturday, they will take a lot of stopping. A goal in each half from player-of-the-match Niamh Fahy helped inspire them against a Dublin team even less competitive than in last year’s decider. Losing manager John O’Leary admitted as much when he said that Galway had “more instinctive and more natural” footballers than they had at their disposal.

“We tried to counteract their strengths and their style of play and we fell short again,’’ he said. “We worked really hard. We have a great bunch players and they’re incredibly dedicated. You just wish you could get more on the sideboard for them.”

Both Niamh Fahy and Galway manager Richard Bowles remarked that the game had been “very tight”, and it was, in the sense that Galway had to put in a major effort to ensure victory. On the other hand, there was never a stage in the game when Dublin looked capable of mounting a successful challenge, finding it next to impossible at times to make progress in attack.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Bowles “even though there was a difference of nine points on the scoreboard at the end. Dublin fought all the way as we knew they would. They have been there or thereabouts for the last few years and you’d have to feel sorry for them.”

Full-forward Fahy (sister of All-Ireland captain Gary Fahy) felt that while it was a really tight game and hard to get on the ball, the experience they gained last year stood to them. Most of all, they played terrific football.

Dublin opened with two quick scores, the first from Lindsay Davey (their best forward), but they managed only one more before the break. In contrast, Galway looked much more threatening, gaining confidence from Fahy’s brilliantly-taken goal in the ninth minute and turning over 1-5 to 0-3 in front.

There was no change in the trend of the game on the resumption, with Fahy getting her second goal in the 44th minute following a break by Lorna Joyce. And, while Dublin admirably maintained a spirited challenge, they were really going nowhere because of the excellence of Galway’s all-round play.

“We have only played in patches, but we’re getting better and hopefully that continues into the final,’’ said Fahy. “We didn’t play well throughout the League, we never played to our full potential.”

Bowles, meanwhile, is looking forward to his team reversing the result of the League final (2-13 to 0-6).

“There are aspects of our own play that we can be very happy with - our work-rate in particular - but there will be other things we’ll be working on over the next three weeks. Cork have a fine team as well, we’ll be looking forward to redeeming ourselves.”

Scorers: Galway: N. Fahy 2-0; N. Duggan 0-5 frees; G. Conneely and L. Joyce 0-2 each; A. Clarke 0-1. Dublin: S. Aherne 0-4 (0-2 frees); L. Davey 0-2; A. McNally 0-1

GALWAY: U. Carroll; M. Glynn, R. Stephens, E. Flaherty; M. O’Connell, A. Daly, R. McPhilbin; A. Clarke (capt.), E. Concannon; G. Conneely, N. Duggan, P. Ni Flatharta; C. Molloy, N. Fahy, L. Joyce.

Subs: A. M. McDonagh for Molloy (18th min); L. Coohill for Ni Flatharta (ht); P. Gleeson for Cohill (inj, 51st min); C. Cormican for Conneely (58th); H. McHugh for Fahy (63rd).

DUBLIN: C. O’Connor; L. Kidd, A. Cluxton, L. Keegan; J. O’Sullivan, D. Masterson, G. Fay; N. McEvoy (capt.), M. Farrell; K. Hopkins, B. Finlay, L. Davey; S. Aherne, R. Barrett, L. Kelly.

Subs: A. McGuinness for Masterson (37th min); N. Hurley for Fay (46th min); A. McNally for Hopkins (47th); M. Nevin for McEvoy (52nd); N. Comyn for Farrell (57th).

Referee: B. Gallagher (Tyrone).

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