By Declan Rooney
Galway manager Tim Rabbitt praised his side’s back-to-back wins over Dublin and Tipperary as they closed in on a spot in the Lidl National Football League Division 1 Final.
Roisín Leonard’s goal eased them past Tipperary in Tuam Stadium and back on top of the standings on scoring difference, shortly after Cork stumbled against Donegal in Ballyshannon.
Dublin eased their relegation concerns with a come-from-behind win away to Waterford, while Mayo kept pace with the leaders following their convincing home win over Westmeath.
Roisín Leonard’s second-half penalty made sure of Galway’s 1-12 to 0-4 win, but another solid defensive display pleased Rabbitt.
“We wanted to put in a really good performance to back up the one we put in against Dublin, and we challenged the girls to do that,” said Rabbitt, who expects captain Louise Ward back for a top-of-the-table clash with Cork in a fortnight.
“We did really well, we kept Tipperary to four points in difficult enough conditions. We didn’t concede a goal which we are always happy about.”
TG4 All-Ireland champions Dublin stormed back from seven points down to deny Waterford with goals from Siobhan Woods, Noelle Healy, Carla Rowe and Sinead Aherne key to their 4-5 to 0-13 win.
“It was one of those days when a bit of grit was needed. I thought in the second half in that 12 or 13 minute period we were very good,” said Dubs boss Mick Bohan.
“That was hugely pleasing because we haven’t had a good winter so far so you’re looking for traits to re-emerge so that was important for us.”
Goals from Amy Boyle Carr and Geraldine McLaughlin saw Donegal recover from last week’s loss against Westmeath as they inflicted a first defeat of the season on Cork.
Orla Finn kicked six points for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side, but they were bettered throughout by a hungrier Donegal side, who climbed out of the relegation slot with this 2-6 to 0-8 win.
“I think we’re relieved more than anything. We haven’t had a great start in the league. It takes some of the pressure off,” said Donegal manager Maxi Curran.
Elsewhere, an outstanding performance from Rachel Kearns propelled Mayo to a 0-10 to 2-0 victory over Westmeath in Swinford.
Lucy McCartan and Leona Archibold hit the net for Sean Finnegan’s side, but Peter Leahy’s outfit remain in contention for a slot in the final.
“It’s always good to win a match when you’re not playing well. We’re absolutely delighted to have got the result and we’re still in the running for a place in the league final,” said Leahy.
Meanwhile in Division 2, Kerry are one point away from reaching the second tier final after they claimed a fifth straight win against Monaghan. Goals from Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Niamh Carmody and Andrea Murphy made sure of the 3-10 to 2-9 win with a third for the Kingdom.
Meath climbed into second place in the table after Monaghan’s defeat, and the Royal’s were delighted to edge past Armagh on a 1-21 to 3-5 scoreline at the Athletic Grounds.
Aisling Maguire’s six points and a 1-3 haul from Roisin O’Keeffe helped Cavan to a 1-13 to 1-9 win against Clare in Doonbeg, while Tyrone are still in the hunt too after their comprehensive 4-17 to 0-3 win over Wexford.
In Division 3 Kildare guaranteed themselves a spot in the final after their 0-13 to 0-8 win over Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park. The win gives Kildare a six-point lead over Roscommon in the standings, and with a three-way tie impossible, Kildare’s head-to-head record will see them through in the event of a two-way tie.
Down are favourites to join them but they dropped their first points of the competition in an 0-11 to 0-11 draw with Wicklow. A win next week against Laois will see them reach the final.
Sligo needs wins badly if they are to stay in the third tier after their slumped to a fifth straight loss, with Longford taking a 0-12 to 0-10 win from Collooney, while Laois claimed a second win from three games in their 0-15 to 2-7 win against Fermanagh.
And in Division 4 there were wins for Carlow, Leitrim and Louth against Antrim, Limerick and Derry respectively.