Leonard and Seoighe shine as Galway claim Connacht crown
Tribeswomen wrestle the ladies senior football title back from Mayo at MacHale Park
Tracey Leonard sparkled as Galway captured a 14th TG4 Connacht ladies senior football crown on Sunday. File photograph: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Stephen Glennon’s Tribeswomen wrestled the title back from Mayo, claiming a fifth Connacht win in six seasons.
Leonard and Seoighe were responsible for 2-11 in total. Leonard scored nine points, including two from play, as Seoighe chipped in with an impressive 2-2.
Mayo, beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists last year, were desperately below-par and now face a difficult route through the qualifiers, as Galway take the direct road to the quarter-finals.
Ahead 3-7 to 0-4 at half-time, Galway never looked back, and while Shauna Howley’s goal in the 38th minute briefly hinted at a Mayo revival, it never materialised.
They were unlucky when Fiona Doherty rattled a shot off the crossbar soon after, while star forward Cora Staunton tested the woodwork with a viciously-struck free later in the half, but Galway were deserved winners.
Galway’s three first-half goals paved the way for victory, with the team taking full advantage of the breeze at their backs, in front of a big crowd in Castlebar.
After Galway streaked two points clear early on, a poor restart by Mayo led to a goal by Seoighe in the third minute.
In the fifth minute, 2004 All-Ireland winner Niamh Duggan, who was briefly on the pitch as a blood sub, made a huge impact, as she netted to finish a flowing move involving Aine McDonagh and Seoighe.
Galway missed other goal chances in the first-half as they carved Mayo open, but their third arrived in the 25th minute, as Seoighe struck again.
Mayo struggled in that first-half, registering just four points and one from play, from Sarah Rowe, with Staunton landing three frees.
When the dust settled, a usually-slick Mayo outfit had managed just 1-2 from play in the entire game - as Staunton top-scored with seven points.
Crucially from a Galway perspective, the off-colour Mayo ace managed just one point from play in the match, a late effort when the end result was not in doubt.
Galway would finish the game with 14 players when Noelle Connolly was sin-binned in the 55th minute for hauling down Staunton - but Glennon’s charges managed to cruise comfortably to another Connacht win.
Olivia Divilly claimed the player-of-the-match award and, on this evidence, Galway could emerge as serious dark horses for All-Ireland glory, in what looks like an open field this summer.
Galway - D Gower; F Cooney, N Connolly, E Flaherty; A Seoighe, B Hannon, S Burke; L Gannon, C Cormican; O Divilly, T Leonard (0-9, 7f), A McDonagh (0-1); M Seoighe (2-2), S Conneally, R Leonard. Subs - N Duggan (temp) (0-1), M Glynn for Conneally (44), A Davoren for McDonagh (46), S Molloy for Divilly (60).
Mayo - Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, M Corbett; F Doherty, M Carter, D Hughes; C Staunton (0-7, 6f), A Gilroy; M McGing, F McHale, G Kelly; R Kearns, S Rowe (0-1), N Gaughan. Subs - S Howley (1-0) for McGing (ht), A Dowling for Doherty (51), A Duffy for Kelly (55).
Referee: G Chapman (Sligo)