By DARAGH SMALL
Galway manager Stephen Glennon says it was a massive relief when Róisín Leonard scored her side’s fifth goal against Mayo, to secure safe passage into a first TG4 All-Ireland semi-final since 2014.
The reigning Connacht champions were hammered 6-19 to 1-10 by Cork at this stage last year, and this was a big statement.
They will face reigning champions Dublin in the final, a side Galway lost 2-8 to 2-7 against in the Lidl NFL semi-final this year.
But Glennon was just thrilled to get past Mayo with two goals from Róisín Leonard, added to by the efforts of Leanne Coen, Ailbhe Davoren and Caitriona Cormican at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon.
“I turned around to the crowd and put my hands up. It was just relief. At that stage I felt there was no coming back for Mayo,” said Glennon.
“There was pressure. I am probably my own worst critic and I put a lot of pressure on myself. But of all games, and I have been involved in a lot of games, I really did feel it coming into this game.
“I was animated enough on the line at times but that was part of it. I could feel the pressure coming in this week. It was pressure I was putting on myself because I wanted to put my best foot forward for the girls.”
Galway held a commanding 3-6 to 0-6 interval lead and Tracey Leonard was one of the stars throughout. But Davoren’s late knee injury was a big cause for concern.
For Mayo their 2018 comes to an early end after losing the league final to Dublin, and Connacht decider against Galway.
The loss of the Carnacon contingent hit them hard after the provincial final but manager Peter Leahy remains upbeat about the future.
“It was a disappointing way to go out and conceding five goals is disappointing. The best team won and there is no question about that,” said Leahy.
“We have gone through an awful lot of turmoil with what has gone on. But we have sorted an awful lot of problems out. We have now gone through 17 players who have had their championship debut this year.
“Between one and 15 we had only had three players who had played for Mayo before in the championship. This was the first year for everyone else.
“The inexperience showed there. But all they can do is get the experience from there. I am quite excited about it. All of them have got that opportunity. We are not that far off it. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of people coming in. There is new blood.
“A lot of teams go through this transition from older to younger and that’s what we are looking to do to take this team forward.”
Galway: R Leonard 2-2 (1f), L Coen 1-4, A Davoren 1-1, T Leonard 0-4 (1f), C Cormican 1-0.
Mayo: G Kelly 0-5 (4f), F Doherty 0-5, N Kelly 0-1, S Cafferky 0-1.
Galway: L Murphy; F Cooney, S Lynch, S Burke; E Flaherty, N Ward, C Cooney; L Ward, A Davoren; O Divilly, T Leonard, C Cormican; S Conneally, R Leonard, L Coen.
Subs: L Gannon for Lynch (38), N Connolly for Flaherty (45), S Divilly for Davoren (45), E Reaney for O Divilly (55).
Mayo: L Brennan; E Lowther, R O’Malley, D Caldwell; R Kearns, C McManamon, K Sullivan; N Moran, A Gilroy; S Mulvihill, F Doherty, S Cafferky; N Kelly, S Rowe, G Kelly.
Subs: R Flynn for Mulvihill (36), E Needham for Moran (45), L Ryder for McManamon (54), M Reilly for Kearns (55), T O’Connor for G Kelly (58).
Referee: N McCormack (Laois).