It wasn’t pretty on the eye, but that won’t bother Galway as they edged past Cork in their Gala All-Ireland Senior Camogie semi-final replay at Semple Stadium and in the process, dashed Cork’s three-in-a-row ambitions.
In stark contrast to last week’s cracking encounter, which yielded 32 scores and was brimful of outstanding passages of play, this game was dour with only seven of the 19 points coming from play.
There was never any flow or pattern to a match that was very stop-start in nature, due to injuries and a plethora of frees, and with neither side giving an inch, space was at an absolute premium.
Both sets of defences had the upper hand, with Sandra Tannian and Regina Glynn outstanding for Galway, while Rena Buckley – who played alongside Mary O’Connor in Cork’s defeat in the All-Ireland ladies' football semi-final on Saturday - was immaculate.
Crucially though, the winners had the upper hand around midfield and it wasn’t until Gemma O’Connor was moved to that sector at half-time that Cork began to get some joy.
The Leesiders hit the front for the first time in the 53rd minute through Eimear O’Sullivan, but crucially it was Galway who were able to lift it thereafter, Aislinn Connolly converting frees either side of an excellent point off the sod by Breda Hanney.
Síle Burns reduced the deficit to one from a free in the fifth minute of injury time after Galway goalkeeper Susan Earner had had to be alert twice to deny Cork goals.
There was time for one last opportunity to bring the tie to extra time, but Gemma O’Connor’s free from 65m drifted just to the right of the posts.
Galway led by 0-6 to 0-3 at the interval and were full value for that advantage. Tara Rutledge and Connolly gave them a good start, but Cork were level by the 15th minute, O’Sullivan soloing through and striking off the stick before Burns slotted a free.
Three points in five minutes from Connolly, Veronica Curtin and Caroline Murray stretched Noel Finn’s team clear before Orla Cotter and Connolly exchanged white flags.
The Tribeswomen might have led by more but for a brilliant reflex save by Aoife Murray in the 29th minute, from a deft one-handed flick by Curtin.
Cork’s hopes were dealt a blow when full back Catriona Foley went over on her ankle early on and had to be replaced by Pamela Mackey, with Buckley taking up Foley’s station at the edge of the square.
Gemma O’Connor was exerting an influence at midfield though and Burns slotted two frees to leave just the minimum between them.
The unerring Connolly slotted another free for Galway but pointed frees by Burns and Gemma O’Connor followed by O’Sullivan’s second white flag edged the Rebels in front.
Galway showed their desire in the remaining 14 minutes (including injury time) however and when Gemma O’Connor’s last ditch effort missed the target, the celebrations could begin.
Galway: S Earner; S Tannian, S Dervan, N Kilkenny; R Glynn, AM Hayes, T Manton; E Kilkelly, O Kilkenny; C Murray 0-1, T Maher, B Hanney 0-1; T Rutledge 0-1, V Curtin 0-1, A Connolly 0-6(fs). Subs: J Gill for Murray (45); A Lynskey for Kilkelly (54); L Ryan for Rutledge (60+6)
Cork: A Murray; J O’Callaghan, C Foley, R Buckley; J Duffy, M O’Connor, G O’Connor 0-1(f); O Cotter 0-1, J Duffy; J White, E O’Sullivan 0-2, J O’Leary; S Burns 0-5(fs), R Moloney, J Casey. Subs: P Mackey for Foley (35); D Cronin for Moloney (49); K Mackey for Casey (54)
Referee: U Kearney (Armagh)