Purcell Cup round two: NUI Galway 8–14 Queens Belfast 3–5
By Michael O Connor
A five star turn by Sarsfields duo Maria Cooney and Laura Ward propelled NUI Galway to their second win in the Purcell Cup over Queens University Belfast in Loughgeorge on Wednesday 9 January.
The Belfast college made the long trip the Galway GAA centre and the tie was played at 14 – a – with unlimited substitution allowed in the game. NUI Galway were lining out with a full – strength selection but for most of the first half the visitors were the better side, and they were unlucky not to have more scores on the board at the end of the first half.
Mullagh’s Aoife Donohue opened the scoring with a third minute goal after Queens were most unlucky not to have scored a goal at the other end. Maria Cooney and Donohue added points before Queens had their first score of the game in the seventh minute.
Clarinbridge’s Carrie Dolan was on target with another score, before Cooney burst through for the first of two goals. Dolan and Donohue then surged NUI Galway 2–5 to 0–1 clear at the end of the opening quarter.
To their credit, Queens defended brilliantly for most of the second quarter as NUI Galway were unable to add to their goal tally in this timespan, and managed to get in the first of the three goals in the twentieth minute. NUI Galway finished the half with a flurry of scores from Donohue, Molly Mannion, Rachel Hannify and Chloe Broderick to hold a confident 2–11 to 1–1 half time lead.
A far more determined NUI Galway side emerged for the second half and added greatly to the scoring average with six second half goals. A stunning goal from Carrie Dolan after great work from Maria Cooney and Aoife Donohue started the second half scoring exploits from the Galway college. Aoife Donohue hit a hat trick of second half goals before Maria Cooney rounded off the scoring as Chloe Broderick added a well taken point.
Best for the winners included Laura Ward, who dominated at full back against a variety of opponents, Ciara Donohue, and Emma Helebert, who was commanding at the centre of the defence. Upfield Aoife Donohue, Maria Cooney, Sarah Spellman, Carrie Dolan, Chloe Broderick and Niamh Horan were to the fore.
NUI Galway play championship favourites DIT away in round three, and finish off the league phase of the championship with an away trip to DCU St Pats.
NUI Galway: Rebecca Nolan (Kilkenny), Hannah Scott (Kilkenny), Laura Ward (Sarsfields), Niamh Black (Oranmore), Ciara Donohue (Mullagh), Emma Helebert (Ballindeerren), Niamh Horan (Killimor), Rachel Fitzmaurice (Roscommon), Molly Mannion (Mountbellew/Moylough) (0–1), Maria Cooney (Sarsfields) (2–3), Carrie Dolan (Clarinbridge) (2–2), Rachel Hannify (Oranmore) (0–1), Aoife Donohue (Mullagh) (4–5), Orlaith Murray (Tipperary).
Subs: Sarah Spellman (Sarsfields), Lauren Gilligan (Craughwell), Ciana Reidy (Craughwell), Aine Cleary (Tipperary), Alisha Lenihan (Roscommon), Ailish Carr (Oranmore), Chloe Broderick (Castlegar) (0–2), Eabha O Rourke (Oranmore), Muireann O Reilly (Castlegar), Niamh Treacy (Meelick Eyrecourt), Roisin Cassidy (Mayo).
Referee: Richard McNicholas.
Photo by NUI Galway GAA on Facebook