Dolan holds nerve as Galway survive Cats comeback to take league spoils
Galway 0-16 Kilkenny 2-8
The celebrations were measured, but this was an important day for Galway.
It wasn't just that they had beaten a four-in-a-row chasing Kilkenny in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 Final. It was that they did so after staring down the barrel of a defeat that would have been very hard to digest given their dominance, and refused to let it happen.
Aoife Donohue, Niamh Kilkenny and the colossal Shauna Healy excelled as the free-flowing westerners led at half-time by 0-10 to 0-4 and after landing the first two scores of the second-half, they seemed on their way.
However, goals from Michelle Quilty and Anne Dalton got the Noresiders to within a point by the 47th minute and the wise owls nodded knowingly. Kilkenny nous would prevail over the nearly side again, they said - but they were wrong.
Carrie Dolan and Ailish O'Reilly were awarded frees and Dolan slotted both, the Clarinbridge sharpshooter who only turns 20 in April bringing her tally to eight points.
It was a testament to a side that was confident, that had nerve, that could win on a big day in Croke Park.
"We're delighted. We knew coming up today it was going to be a really tough challenge," said manager Cathal Murray. "I think we played really well in the first-half and six points at half-time probably didn't reflect how well we played.
"They were always going to get their purple patch. We spoke about it at half-time and the reaction to that was very good. This Galway team needed to come up today and show they were able to play a Cork or a Kilkenny and beat them in a final."
Apart from wondering about the free count - which she was refraining from attributing to either players or referee Cathal Egan until watching the video - Kilkenny manager Ann Downey was emphatic in acknowledging that Galway deserved to prevail.
"We were disappointed with the first-half. There were too many frees given against us and it's something I'd have to sit down and see why," Downey stated.
"I thought it was a little harsh on us, but it wasn't the losing and winning of the game either. We just weren't hungry enough. Simple as that. Galway were. They wanted it more."
SCORERS - Galway: C Dolan 0-8 (7f, 1 '45), A Donohue 0-3, N Kilkenny, N Hanniffy 0-2 each, A O'Reilly 0-1
Kilkenny: M Quilty 1-1 (0-1f), D Morrissey 0-3 (2f), A Dalton 1-0, K Power 0-2, D Gaule (f), C Phelan ('45) 0-1 each
GALWAY - Sarah Healy, Shauna Healy, S Dervan, H Cooney, T Kenny, E Helebert, L Ryan, AM Starr, A Donohue, N Kilkenny, A O'Reilly, N McGrath, C Dolan, N Hanniffy, N Coen. Subs: S Spellman for McGrath (43), M Cooney for Coen (52), D Higgins for Ryan (60+2); Ryan for Dolan (60+3)
KILKENNY - E Kavanagh, M Teehan, C Foley, C Dormer, , D Tobin, C Phelan, K Doyle, A Farrell, N Deeley, K Power, A Dalton, M Walsh, D Morrissey, M Quilty, D Gaule. Subs: A Doyle for Walsh (ht), S Fitzgerald for A Farrell (42), M Farrell for Teehan (53), M Kinneally for Tobin (60+4)
REF - C Egan (Cork)