Orlaith McGrath – whose father Michael ‘Hopper’ McGrath enjoyed many successful days at headquarters – was in scintillating form for the Tribeswomen and it was no surprise that the Sarsfields attacker earned the Player of the Match award. She topped off a day she is unlikely to forget by coming on towards the end of the seniors’ success later in the afternoon.
Limerick fought to the bitter end but their much-vaunted forward line got absolutely no change from a splendid Galway rearguard. And so, the Shannonsiders were heavily reliant on Niamh Mulcahy’s well-judged shooting in nightmarish conditions for free-takers to keep them in contention.
Galway gradually imposed themselves and three points from Rebecca Hennelly, McGrath and a classy finish by Aoife Donoghue helped them into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead. But it was level scores at the interval as Mulcahy punished a few indiscretions.
She gave Limerick the lead early in the second half, but a run of three points, with McGrath providing one either side of Donoghue’s second score, pushed Galway clear once more.
Síle Moynihan made a brilliant save from Karen Kennedy five minutes from the end of normal time to keep Joe Quaid’s side in touch though and two brilliant Mulcahy frees left it at 0-11 to 0-10 entering injury time.
Hennelly pushed the gap to two with a 62nd minute free but Karen O’Leary almost snatched a dramatic victory for Limerick, only to see her shot deflected out for a 45.
Limerick boss Quaid referred to a couple of important decisions going against his side but, in a nod to Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald, joked that he wouldn’t be giving a “small fish” speech.
“We’re gutted,” Quaid stated. “I don’t feel the girls performed to their potential today but we have to understand what a low base we came from last year and how many young girls we have on the team. I’m so, so proud of them for the way they tried out there today.”
Scorers for Galway: R Hennelly (3fs), O McGrath (0-4 each), A Donoghue (0-2), C Cormican, M Cooney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: N Mulcahy (0-8, 7fs), C Costello, M O’Callaghan (0-1 each).
GALWAY: R Callanan; T Kenny, S Healy, C Gill; P Kenny, S Noone, S Keane; A Callanan, C Cormican; K O’Dwyer, R Hennelly, M Cooney; F Keely, O McGrath, A Donoghue. Subs: D Burke for A Callanan (ht); K Kennedy for Donoghue(52); A Lynskey for Keely (57); L Mitchell for O’Dwyer (60+2).
LIMERICK: S Moynihan; F Hickey, S Carey, J Mulcahy; M Ryan, M Casey, R Delee; D Fitzpatrick, K Campbell; C Costello, N Mulcahy, D Murphy; M Keating, M O’Callaghan, D O’Brien.
Subs: A Wilson for Keating (ht); K O’Leary for Campbell (44); J Garvey for O’Callaghan (54); J Wilson for Ryan (58).
Referee: A O’Brien (Wexford).