It's goals that count as Galway triumph
Monday, 4th October 2004
Three cracking goals at very opportune times proved crucial as Galway ladies came from behind to secure their first ever All-Ireland ladies SFC title with a win over long-time leaders Dublin at Croke Park in front of 20,706 fans.
In careering to a deserved and thoroughly gutsy win, the Tribeswomen overcame a very hesitant first half to produce some spell-binding football and leave the Dubs threading deep water in the last quarter.
The final 15 minutes were all about the ladies from the west which was in stark contrast to the early part of the game when Dublin dictated the pace for large periods against their nervous opponents.
With Bernie Finlay in hugely influential form, chances were created ad nauseum in front of goal and the only surprise was that there were no goals scored.
Galway were often at sixes and sevens and it took a complete re-arrangement of the Galway full back line for Dublin's ongoing momentum to be stymied to a degree.
With Mary Nevin in top form from placed balls, Dublin remained in the driving seat as Galway were forced to rely more and more on making the most from all too rare counter attacks.
The Metropolitans were full value for their 0-6 to 0-1 cushioned lead with a class point from Na Fianna's Finlay helping to cement the Dubs' supremecy at that juncture.
Powered forward by team captain Martina Farrell, the Leinster ladies remained on the forefoot although 'keeper Cliodhna O'Connor did have to be smart on a couple of occasions as Galway threatened to plunder a goal on the counter attack.
However the Dubs received a major shock in the 28th minute when their opponents nicked the goal they so badly needed.
Great approach work by Galway down the left wing was eventually expertly finished off by Niamh Duggan which left Dublin now leading by just three points, 0-7 to 1-1.
Duggan was having a terrific game and her leadership and accuracy was seen to telling effect just before the interval when she pointed to leave the maroon and whites trailing by just two at the break, after trailing by six at one stage.
With referee Eugene O'Hare expertly allowing the play to flow, both teams continued to do well in building from the back but it was the westerners who struck gold first on the restart with great work by Fiona Corcoran being finished off in superb style by the starring Duggan to suddenly leave the scores all square, 2-2 to 0-8 after eight minutes.
Galway continued to remain on the offensive and a point by Gillian Joyce edged them into the lead for the first time in the match with the significant fact that all Galway's scores derived from play particularly ominous for the Dubs.
Dublin were coming under more and more pressure and it took a brillant save from 'keeper O'Connor to prevent Galway adding to their goal tally.
It was nip and tuck over the course of the next four minutes with Mary Nevin pointing a free to level matters yet again.
Then Dublin's Angie McNally shaved the crossbar with a rasping shot to edge her side into a 0-10 to 2-3 lead by the three-quarter hour mark.
Sadly for the Dubs that's as good as it got as they proceeded to notch just one more point for the rest of the game with substitute Karen Hopkins doing the honours one minute from the end of normal time.
In between times, Galway played some lovely football with the outstanding Galway sub. Gillian Joyce to the fore and her second point of the game in the 49th minute seemed to mark Galway's drive past the winning post as they edged into a 2-5 to 0-10 lead.
Galway were determined to go for the jugular but a great block by Dublin's Gemma Fay held them at bay, if only briefly.
But Dublin's luck did run out in the 24th minute when Edel Concannon banged home a cracking goal, at the second attempt, to really put the cat amongst the pidgeons.
The points flowed for Galway thereafter as Dublin heads seemed to go down a tad with points by Geraldine Kenneally and Lisa Cohill easing Galway ahead by 3-7 to 0-10 with 28 minutes on the clock.
Dublin desperately needed a goal to get them out of jail but in losing the midfield exchanges hands down and finding it next to impossible to breach the leak-proof Galway defence, the Metropolitans hadn't got the ammunition to turn things around.
And, appropriately enough, it was the new champions who had the last say with Patricia Gleeson pointing on the run to ensure that Galway as a county entered the GAA's record books as having won all four major competitions in hurling, football, camogie and ladies football.
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