Galway 0-11 Monaghan 0-16
Gregory McGonigle’s Monaghan came through a tense battle against Galway this evening to book their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship final at Croke Park on September 29.
Monaghan, beaten finalists in 2011 and 2008, qualified for their third final in six seasons with a five-point victory against Connacht champions Galway, in front of a bumper crowd at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan.
Both sides paid each other a huge amount of respect by adopting defensive systems and that led an intriguing war of attrition.
But there were moments of real quality throughout as Monaghan had a matchwinning scoring contribution from Cathriona McConnell, who scored six of her seven points from frees.
Defensively, Monaghan were excellent too as corner back Gráinne McNally denied Galway a certain goal with a brilliant goalline save to keep out Gillian O’Connor in the 25th minute.
Earlier, goalkeeper Linda Martin had diverted O’Connor’s shot wide for a 45 as Galway created the better goal chances in the first half.
The sides were level twice in the early exchanges before Ulster champions Monaghan hit four unanswered points, including three from the boot of McConnell, to open up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
Galway responded with points from Ger Conneally and corner back Barbara Hannon to remain in touch at half-time, trailing by 0-4 to 0-6.
In the battle between last year’s beaten semi-finalists, Galway were dogged in the second half without getting close enough to really trouble defiant Monaghan.
The Farney girls kicked the opening two points of the second half and could have had a goal in the 34th minute as Galway goalkeeper Johanna Connolly did well to divert McConnell’s shot wide with an outstretched leg.
Twice, Galway got to within two points of the winners but Monaghan, who had scored 4-21 in their previous outing against Laois, bagged the final three scores of the game.
Galway brought in All-Ireland minor medallists Olivia Divilly, who scored a point, and Nicola Ward in the closing stages but Monaghan held firm as experienced midfielder Amanda Casey exerted a growing influence.
The second half saw three players sin-binned as Monaghan lost Cora Courtney with 16 minutes remaining, before Galway’s Caitriona Cormican was yellow-carded with ten minutes to go.
Both decisions appeared harsh but there was no doubting Laura McEnaney’s yellow card with eight minutes remaining, as the daughter of Monaghan selector Seamus hauled down goalbound Róisín Leonard.
Tracey Leonard tapped over the resultant free and Divilly added a brilliant point from play to reduce the deficit to two points with six minutes remaining on the time clock, 0-11 to 0-13.
But Monaghan did not suffer because of their numerical disadvantage and a late flurry of scores was enough to send them through to a final meeting with Cork or Kerry.
Scorers for Monaghan: C McConnell 0-7 (6f), T McNally & C Mahon 0-2 each, C Reilly, E McCarron, E McKenna, C Courtney & C McAnespie 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: T Leonard 0-3f, R Leonard 0-2 (1f), B Hannon, G Conneally, C Cormican, G O’Connor, A Daly & O Divilly 0-1 each.
GALWAY: J Connolly; N Ward, M Coyne, B Hannon; R McPhilbin, E Flaherty, S Burke; A Clarke, G Conneally; C Cormican, A Daly, T Leonard; R Leonard, G O’Connor, E Concannon.
Subs: T Hession for Concannon (39), O Divilly for O’Connor (48), N Ward for Hannon (54), A Rohan for Daly (56).
MONAGHAN: L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, C Reilly; L McEnaney, E McCarron, A McAnespie; Y Connell, A Casey; T McNally, C McConnell, C Courtney; N Kindlon, C Mohan, C McAnespie.
Sub: E McKenna for Kindlon (h.t.).
Referee: G Corrigan (Down).