Monday 26 August 2019

In-form Coen and Leonard help Galway seal spot in last eight as Cork deliver ominous statement

On target: Geraldine McLaughlin scores Donegal's first goal against Tyrone. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
On target: Geraldine McLaughlin scores Donegal's first goal against Tyrone. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Galway sealed their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals after Leanne Coen and Roisin Leonard goals eased them to victory against Westmeath at TEG Cusack Park.

Galway, beaten semi-finalists last year, defeated Westmeath by 2-13 to 1-3, to ensure that they will finish on top of Group 3 of the All-Ireland qualifiers, following on from the Round 1 victory over Kerry.

Leonard bagged a crucial goal near the end of the first-half, and despite Nicole Feery striking back for Sean Finnegan's side, Galway wrapped up the win thanks to a late goal from Coen.

"We're happy to grind out a victory, considering it was our fifth week in a row in action," said a clearly delighted Galway boss, Tim Rabbitt.

"The girls are physically and mentally tired. There is still a lot of work to do before the quarter-final in three weeks' time, but we're happy to be there."

Meanwhile, Cork blasted out an ominous statement of intent during their first fixture in the All-Ireland series.

The 2018 runners-up and Lidl NFL Division 1 champions scored a 6-19 to 3-8 victory over Cavan in Saturday's televised fixture in Mullingar.

Cavan are still in the hunt for a quarter-final slot, however, and they'll be relying on Cork to see off Armagh next weekend to ensure progress in second place in Group 1.

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"We were a bit sloppy today, so it's something we can work on," said Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald.

"To be fair to Cavan, they've some serious forwards there. It was a game probably we were never going to lose after the first-quarter of an hour. Happy enough with the win and we got a great score. All in all, we have to be pleased. But we wouldn't be happy with conceding 3-8."

In the first game at TEG Cusack Park, the shock of the championship so far materialised when Tyrone edged past Ulster rivals Donegal in a classic encounter.

The sides had already met previously in the championship this summer, in the Ulster preliminary round, but this time Tyrone were not to be denied.

This group 4 result has thrown up all sorts of possibilities. Mayo had already beaten Tyrone last week, which meant Donegal must beat Peter Leahy's Connacht outfit next Saturday to have any hope of making the quarter-finals. Should Donegal claim that key win, all three teams will be on two points each, which means scoring difference would be the deciding factor.

"It was a game we really had to win," said Tyrone forward Maria Canavan. "We were disappointed with our performance against Mayo last week.

"We knew coming here it was a must-win for us, to be in with a chance to move forward. We're delighted with the performance and we saw it out well."

In the crucial Group 2 clash, Waterford got the better of Monaghan to put themselves within touching distance of a quarter-final slot.

The Déise had lost out to Dublin in Round 1 but this win will almost certainly put them through to the last eight, barring a major surprise when Monaghan face Dublin in Round 3.

A hat-trick of goals from Eimear Fennell during five first-half minutes set Waterford on the way to the win, while further goals from Maria Delahunty, Aileen Wall and Kellyann Hogan saw them pull clear after the break.

"We need to look at it and take on whatever challenges are ahead of us now and prepare properly for it," said Waterford manager Ciaran Curran.

"We are looking forward to it. We had a bit of a difficult start to the year ourselves, so to be in this position now, we are really pleased."

Meanwhile, in the TG4 Intermediate championship, favourites Tipperary stormed to a second win in a row with a 7-22 to 2-4 victory over Longford, which has sealed their place in the quarter-finals.

Meath were also very impressive winners in group 2, and after their 21-point victory over Wicklow they too can reach the last eight with another win next weekend against Longford.

In group 1, Kildare maintained their perfect start with a slender four-point win over Sligo, and barring a big defeat to Down next week they will go through. Down recovered from last week's loss to Sligo by beating Limerick, which has given them hope of qualifying too.

In group 3, Clare secured a 4-13 to 1-12 win over Laois, which has put them level with Wexford at the top of the standings. Nothing is certain in this pool yet, but if Laois cannot beat Wexford by nine points next weekend they will face a relegation play-off.

And in group four of the IFC, Roscommon confirmed their position as winners of the pool after a 16-point win over Offaly. Leitrim face Offaly in the final game next weekend, where victory for either team will seal their passage.

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