Dublin forward Niamh McEvoy sounded a warning to her teammates that they still have a lot of improving to do if they are to retain their TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship, following a show of force against Waterford at the weekend in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.
The Sky Blues ran out 18-point winners, 5-15 to 2-6, in this Group 2 tie on Saturday, with Monaghan due to play Waterford next Saturday in what is now a crunch fixture.
After defending their Leinster title, Mick Bohan’s side got their round robin series off to a convincing win thanks to goals from Lyndsey Davey, Nicole Owens and McEvoy.
“Nothing we’ve done before in the past is going to be good enough to win an All-Ireland. You always have to improve on the previous season,” said McEvoy, who scored 2-4 of her side’s total.
“We know we have to bring a bit more, but there was no talk of who was missing today. It was everybody who was available, what they could bring to the table.
“We’re obviously happy with the win, but there’s definitely things we’re going to take away from today to build on.”
Meanwhile, in the opening game of the O’Moore Park double-bill, Connacht champions Galway survived a real shock to get the better of Kerry on a 1-14 to 1-10 scoreline in Group 3.
At one stage Tim Rabbitt’s side trailed by 10 points during the first half after Hannah O’Donoghue led the Kerry charge.
But Tracey Leonard played a captain’s part and a goal from Louise Ward just before half-time settled Galway.
“We never really got going in the first half,” said Galway midfielder Áine McDonagh. “Towards the last 10 minutes we started to get our footing right and we started to get grips on the game.
"Thankfully we came out second half a bit more lively and we got the job done.”
Elsewhere, Cavan won an epic nine-goal Ulster derby at St Aidan’s, Bawnboy, 3-18 to 6-8.
This was a crucial victory for Cavan, as the two counties are pitted in Group 1 with Lidl NFL Division 1 champions Cork.
A hat-trick from Aimee Mackin and two goals for her sister Bláithií were not enough for Armagh, as Aishling Maguire’s injury-time winner gave Cavan the honours.
“We put our faith in these girls and they got us over the line. It was a big game; we needed a big performance,” said Cavan manager James Daly.
Also on Saturday, there was a crucial victory for Mayo over Tyrone at Healy Park, Omagh.
Two goals for Rachel Kearns and another from Grace Kelly ensured Mayo got over the line with a three-point win,3-14 to 3-11.
“If one of those early goalscoring chances had been taken we would have pushed on to win the game, as it stands there were positives but we haven’t the points on the board, it’s one that got away,” said Tyrone boss Gerry Moane.
Meanwhile, in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship, there were victories for Sligo, Kildare, Tipperary, Wexford and Roscommon, while Longford and Wicklow played out a draw in the final game of the weekend.
In the big Intermediate clash of the weekend, Tipperary accounted for Meath in Ardfinnan on Sunday, laying the foundation for victory with early goals from Aishling Moloney and Angela McGuigan.
Meath charged back in the second half, but the Munster side held.
In the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship, Louth repeated their Leinster Final victory over Carlow, scoring a 4-18 to 2-9 win.
While Antrim beat Derry by 1-13 to 2-9.