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Walsh and Howley goal glut sends Mayo top in impressive display

Elsewhere, Galway secured a 15-point victory over Westmeath.

 Shauna Howley was among the scorers for Mayo (file pic).
Shauna Howley was among the scorers for Mayo (file pic).
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated at 18.14

Mayo 2-7
Donegal 1-7

Aisling Clery reports

SINÉAD WALSH AND Shauna Howley scored the goals and Mayo topped the Lidl National Football League Division 1A table after victory over Donegal at the Connacht Centre of Excellence.

A strong second quarter from Michael Moyles’ side meant they led by 2-4 to 1-2 at the break despite Shelly Twohig’s goal. Donegal found it difficult to get into good scoring positions but the introduction of Yvonne Bonner and Katy Herron gave their attack a much needed boost.

However, Mayo had the edge and they will go on to face Meath in the semi-final on 19 March with Donegal set to take on holders Dublin.

The opening quarter was end-to-end and Donegal were first to strike on four minutes when Karen Guthrie passed to Susanne White and she scored. Walsh levelled the game with a terrific effort five minutes later while points from Sarah Mulvihill and Lisa Cafferky pushed Mayo into a two-point advantage at the first water break.

Mayo dominated afterwards and struck the first of their goals on 16 minutes. A long ball from Mulvihill was picked up by Walsh, she cut in behind the Donegal defence and found the net.

With Mayo’s half-back line pushing up on the Donegal defence, their scores continued. Sinéad Cafferky scored after good work from Fiona McHale while Kathryn O’Sullivan’s bravery resulted in Mayo’s second goal. She won back possession and sent the ball through the Mayo attack, and a sweeping team move led to Howley finishing to the net.

Donegal were struggling but Guthrie did convert a 28th minute free. Immediately on the resumption, Twohig got the ball and found a way past Mayo goalkeeper Laura Brennan for the final score of the half. Donegal trailed by five at the interval.

Substitute Bonner made an immediate impact as she converted the first free of the half while Howley scored a long-range free for Mayo. Two Guthrie points brought Donegal right back into it and a second Bonner point just before the water break, left only two points between the teams with Mayo 2-5 to 1-6 in front.

But Mayo retained possession on the restart and Aoife Geraghty’s point pushed them three clear. A Howley free increased the lead further and although Guthrie did bring Donegal back to within three, Mayo’s defence overturned the ball and they hung on to claim top spot.

Scorers – Mayo: S Howley 1-2 (2f), S Walsh 1-1, S Cafferky 0-1, A Geraghty 0-1, S Mulvihill 0-1, L Cafferky 0-1.
Donegal: K Guthrie 0-4 (2f), S Twohig 1-0, Y Bonner 0-2 (1f), S White 0-1.

MAYO: L Brennan; S Lally, R Flynn, D Caldwell; C Needham, F McHale, K Sullivan; S Cafferky, A Geraghty; S Howley, S Walsh, S Mulvihill; L Cafferky, C Whyte, H Reape.
Subs: G Flynn for Reape (38), M Reilly for Whyte (44), A Keane for Walsh (56), S Boyle for L Cafferky (57),

DONEGAL: R McCafferty; S McFadden, E McGinley, N Boyle; N Carr, F McManamon, T Hegarty; Nicole McLaughlin, R Rodgers; S White, Niamh McLaughlin, S Twohig; B McLaughlin, K Guthrie, K Long.
Subs: Y Bonner for White (30), K Herron for Long (30), A Boyle Carr for Hegarty (46), D McGinley for McManamon (52),

Referee: Shane Curley (Galway).

Galway 3-13
Westmeath 0-7

Darren Kelly reports

Tracey Leonard made a major impact on her Galway return as three goals in the final ten minutes gave them a 15-point victory over Westmeath in the Lidl National Football League.

Galway held an 0-8 to 0-6 advantage when the former captain made her introduction on 43 minutes and immediately set up Corofin clubmate Leanne Coen for a point.

Galway were now turning the screw, with Andrea Trill, Ailbhe Davoren and Darina Keane converting for the visitors. They were 0-12 to 0-6 clear with 10 minutes remaining in Moate.

And when Charlotte Cooney reacted to a poor kick-out afterwards, she finished for the first goal, setting up the vital win to ensure their survival. Meanwhile, Westmeath go into the relegation play-off against Waterford next weekend.

Sarah Ni Loingsigh added a point, but on 56 minutes, an inspirational move from Leonard saw her pick out Aoife O’Rourke. And she in turn set up Trill who booted to the net.

Chloe Kelly had registered Westmeath’s final point beforehand but as they pushed forward for a consolation goal, Michael Finneran’s team left gaps in defence and a long ball to Leonard in the final minute saw her one-on-one with the defence, finishing for the third goal and a comfortable win.

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It could have been so different at the start as these two teams battled to avoid the relegation decider. Westmeath had two goal chances, with Karen Hegarty rattling the crossbar, but only managed an Anna Jones free.

Mairéad Seoighe equalised for Galway on four minutes before Dillon finished a three-player move to restore Westmeath’s advantage.

That was the last time the Lakesiders led as the next four points went Galway’s way through Trill (two), Charlotte Cooney and Linda Booth. A Jones free on 22 minutes broke Westmeath’s scoring drought but points for Keane and Seoighe gave Galway a 0-7 to 0-3 interval lead.

The sun graced Hogan Park on an ideal spring afternoon for football and Westmeath’s chances were looking brighter when Dillon (two) and Ashley Ruane brought them back to 0-7 to 0-6 on 40 minutes but their challenge faded.

Scorers – Galway: A Trill 1-3 (2f), C Cooney 1-1, T Leonard 1-0, M Seoighe 0-2, D Keane 0-2, A Davoren 0-1, S Ni Loingsigh 0-1, L Coen 0-1, L Booth 0-1, A O’Rourke 0-1.

Westmeath: S Dillon 0-3, A Jones 0-2 (2f), C Kelly 0-1, A Ruane 0-1.

GALWAY: A Griffin; F Cooney, E Gavin, A Ni Cheallaigh; C Cooney, C Trill, S Molloy; A Davoren, S Ni Loingsigh; L Coen, A Trill, L Finnegan; M Seoighe, L Booth, D Keane.

Subs: A O’Rourke for Seoighe (38), K Geraghty for Ni Cheallaigh (38), T Leonard for Booth (43), E Power for Davoren (56), A Ni Dubhghaill for Trill (56).

WESTMEATH: C Faulkner; M Fagan, L Power, N Nolan; F Coyle, A Alford, C Kelly; A Ruane, T Dillon; A Jones, C Thornton, C Smullen; S Dillon, K Hegarty, C Blundell.

Subs: A Gaynor for Thornton (36), K Boyce Jordan for Hegarty (43), M McDonald for Smullen (47), A O’Malley for Alford (51).

Referee: Brendan Rice (Down).

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