By Declan Rooney at Croke Park
A record crowd of 56,114 watched Dublin claim their third TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship in a row with goals from Sinéad Goldrick and Hannah O’Neill critical to their victory.
Neither team mastered the very wet conditions at Croke Park, but Galway closed to within three points of Dublin with seven minutes remaining, only for experienced duo Sinéad Aherne and Noelle Healy to kick the security points for Dublin.
Tim Rabbitt’s side were looking to win a second All-Ireland in their history, but five first-half wides meant they never threatened the Leinster champions.
While the rain never lashed down at Croke Park the non-stop drizzle meant the underfoot conditions were extremely slippery, handling errors and turnovers in the tackle were frequent and shooting at goal was a lottery at times.
Before throw-in it was revealed that Dublin full-forward Healy would not start with O’Neill favoured, and it was their opponents that registered the brighter start. And while they were able to generate scoring chances their first eight efforts either dropped wide or short.
The first chance came Galway’s way in the early stages when Róisín Leonard’s free from the right drifted wides – she missed a similar attempt later in the half – while Dublin captain Aherne also missed the target at the other end.
With both management teams looking to gain the edge with scores so scarce, there was plenty of changing of positions. Galway saw Áine McDonagh start at midfield, while she spent some time in the full-forward line, while Sarah Conneally also roamed deep in search of possession for the Connacht champions.
The search for the first score continued as Niamh McEvoy and Tracey Leonard hit the post, while Olwen Carey had to stretch to her limits to cut out Conneally’s pass, which would have sent McDonagh in on goal.
But finally the opening score arrived after 22 minutes and it was no shock to see it scored in a slightly calamitous manner. Aherne, Jennifer Dunne and O’Neill were all involved before Goldrick gathered possession in front of the Galway goal. Simultaneously two Galway defenders collided and Sarah Lynch blocked Goldrick’s shot, but it looped over the head of Lisa Murphy into the net.
Dublin's Sinead Aherne lifts the The Brendan Martin Cup
Galway certainly deserved a score for all their efforts and five minutes from half-time Olivia Divilly fought hard to gather a loose ball. The ball worked its way to Conneally, who settled herself with a solo and curled over a lovely point from the right.
The half-time score of 1-0 to 0-1 in Dublin’s favour was added to straight from the restart when Lyndsey Davey clipped over a point, but the scoring continued to be tough with Aherne and Róisín Leonard off target again.
A late hit on Ciara Trant earned a yellow card for Mairéad Seoighe in the 37th minute and in the 39th minute Dublin’s three-in-a-row dream took a step closer to reality. Niamh McEvoy’s quick free sent Davey scuttling in along the end line and her perfectly weighted pass allowed O’Neill to palm to the net at the back post.
Without an All-Ireland since 2004 there was plenty of fight left in Galway and they scored the next three points of the game, although it took them 14 minutes to accumulate them. Tracey Leonard kicked two frees, while Róisín Leonard added her first of the game to close the gap to 2-1 to 0-4.
But as soon as Galway put one score between the teams Dublin pushed on. Aherne curled over an excellent point with five minute remaining before Healy carried the ball half the length of the field and pointed to finish the job.
Scorers – Dublin: S Goldrick 1-0, H O’Neill 1-0, L Davey 0-1, S Aherne 0-1, N Healy 0-1.
Galway: T Leonard 0-2 (2f), S Conneally 0-1, R Leonard 0-1.
Dublin: C Trant; É Rutledge, N Collins, M Byrne; A Kane, O Carey, S Goldrick; L Magee, S McGrath; L Davey, N McEvoy, C Rowe; H O’Neill, J Dunne, S Aherne (c).
Subs: N Healy for Dunne (h-t), C O’Connor for McEvoy (43), O Whyte for O’Neill (51), R Ruddy for Kane (55), N Hetherton for Rowe (60).
Galway: L Murphy; S Burke, S Lynch, O Murphy; N Ward, L Ward, S Molloy; B Hannon, Á McDonagh; O Divilly, M Glynn, M Seoighe; R Leonard, S Conneally, T Leonard (c).
Subs: F Cooney for Conneally (43), C Cooney for Murphy (46), L Coen for Seoighe (48), A Trill for R Leonard (57), M Coyne for Hannon (58).
Referee: Brendan Rice (Down).Tweet