Tuesday 19 March 2019

Davis fall to Galway girls

THERE was a man selling burgers. The smell drifted across St Loman's Park in Mullingar. It has tidy terracing. No stand, but there is a roof on one side of the ground.

Behind it, the local hospital stretched into the sky. The blinding Saturday afternoon sunshine eventually went off for a break

A sizeable crowd watched a cracking Tesco All-Ireland Intermediate Championship final. Claregalway took the prize, 1-9 to 0-9, overcoming Dublin's pride, Thomas Davis.

The Tallaght team wore white jerseys. They weren't afraid to get them dirty. Claregalway had much possession. They took some decent scores and missed a few more.

They defended brilliantly. Time and again, they brought down the shutters as Davis approached the shop door. Their sparkling left half-back Megan Glynn was awarded the player-of-the-match.

If the Dubs had won, Siobhán McGrath, their accomplished centre half-back, would have collected the accolade. When they needed her most, nobody did more to try to grab the game by the lapels. She made some lung-bursting runs. She often advanced from deep defence, laying off the ball and taking the return pass. She struck a quality point in the 47th minute.

At that stage, Claregalway were ahead by a goal, and were looking ever more menacing. Early in the second half, McGrath saved a certain goal when she cleared Deirdre Brennan's shot off the line.

The only goal came in the 10th minute. And it changed the climate. Until then, Davis had a strong hand-hold on the tussle. The goal came from a penalty. Glynn passed to Charlotte Cooney, who was tumbled. Goalkeeper Louise Curran was sent to the sin-bin.

Full-forward Christina McGinty took the number one jersey. She went in the right direction, but Ciara Newell's spot-kick sped to the left corner.

The Davis dominance dipped after that. But they were still very much in the race. When Curran's 10 minutes had elapsed, she returned to make a fine save to deny Brennan.

Claregalway led at the break, 1-4 to 0-5. They upped their tempo after the tea. They should have had more of a profit to show for it. They had 10 wides in the hour. Davis toiled hard to create openings, but they just couldn't unlock the gates.

With 10 minutes left, Davis were again down to 14 players when Karen Sweeney-Lynch got a yellow. Claregalway were pressing hard and the cultured Ciara Burke kicked three points on the spin.

That gave Claregalway a five-point advantage with seven minutes left. Davis kept going. But the contest had crept into injury-time when Miriam Liston and Amanda Shiels brought it back to a goal.

The man with the burgers had gone. But Claregalway manager Martin McDermott said he was going to celebrate with a big plate of steak and chips.

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