Four minutes of stoppage time was signalled by Cathal Egan, at the end of which Wexford achieved parity, and extra-time looked imminent. However, the Cork referee didn’t call full-time until the seventh minute, allowing McGrath convert.
Heartbroken Wexford captain Shelley Kehoe took issue with the amount of time added on. “Over six minutes when they said it was four? We would be disappointed with that. The momentum was with us if there was extra-time,” she said after the Slaneysiders battled from three points down to tie the game with a trio of Kate Kelly frees.
Galway manager Tony Ward was delighted but admitted: “The ref was a bit kind to us. We got a few minutes extra at the end. Most referees would probably have made a draw of it. .”
Reflecting on the game, Ward said they knew it wasn’t going to be easy. “We got a few knocks beforehand. The McGraths’ (Niamh and Clodagh) grandad died last night, that was a downer.”
The opening quarter was tit-for-tat before Molly Dunne put Galway 1-6 to 0-4 clear when her deft flick beat Laura Brennan. Immediately, Katrina Parrock replied when her shot from distance deceived Susan Earner. The Galway forward line was causing problems, forcing Wexford boss Colm McGee to introduce Karen Atkinson. She helped steady the ship as they went to the dressing-room trailing 1-4 to 1-8.
In front of 1,616, league champions Galway continued in the ascendancy, scoring the first two points from excellent midfielder Niamh Kilkenny. A couple of goal chances for Una Sinnott and Stacey Kehoe went abegging but Wexford were more threatening and eventually settled through a Stacey Kehoe white flag.
Ursula Jacob and Aoife Donohue exchanged points before placed ball experts Kelly and Niamh McGrath registered points - 1-12 to 1-7 on 53 minutes. The contest then turned on its head when Stacey Kehoe goaled after she was expertly picked out by Ursula Jacob. Jacob then saw her goal effort tail wide.
Dunne increased the margin once more to three points but Wexford were opening up. Three Kelly frees and the sides were level with the four minutes of added time almost up. Play carried on. Galway won a free. Niamh McGrath’s shot was deflected out for a 45m and she made no mistake with the conversion.
N McGrath (0-5, three frees, one 45m); M Dunne (1-1); A O’Reilly (0-3); A O’Donohue and N Kilkenny (0-2 each); E Kilkelly (0-1).
K Kelly (0-6 frees); Stacey Kehoe (1-1); K Parrock (1-0); U Jacob (0-2); Shelley Kehoe (0-1).
S Earner; T Manton, S Dervan, H Cooney; S Coen, S Healy, L Ryan; N Kilkenny (Capt), C McGrath; A Donohue, N McGrath, E Kilkelly; C Finnerty, M Dunne, A O’Reilly.
F Keeley for E Kilkelly (32 inj), S Cahalan for C McGrath (52).
L Brennan; C Donohue, S Nolan, L O’Leary; C Storey, M Leacy, S Sinnott; D Codd, B Gordon; K Parrock, K Kelly, Shelley Kehoe (Capt); Stacey Kehoe, U Jacob, U Sinnott.
K Atkinson for C Donohoe (25), Linda Bolger for C Storey (45), Lisa Bolger for B Gordon (59).
Cathal Egan (Cork).