Scintillating McGrath inspires Tribeswomen to atone for 2012 agony
Galway 0-12 Limerick 0-10
All-Ireland inter camogie final
Galway held off a dogged Limerick side to bounce back from last year's replay defeat and eke out a narrow but deserved victory at Croke Park.
Orlaith McGrath – whose father Michael 'Hopper' McGrath enjoyed many successful days at Headquarters – was in scintillating form for the Tribeswomen and the Sarsfields attacker deservedly earned the Player of the Match award.
She topped off a day she won't forget in a hurry by coming on towards the end of the seniors' success later in the day.
Limerick fought to the bitter end but their vaunted forward line got no change from a splendid Galway rearguard, so the Shannonsiders were heavily reliant on Niamh Mulcahy's well-judged shooting in nightmarish conditions for freetakers to keep them in contention.
Indeed, the Ahane ace did that to such a standard, with seven of her eight points coming from frees, that Limerick were within a point entering injury-time and had Galway fans biting their nails.
Galway gradually imposed themselves and three points from Rebecca Hennelly, McGrath and a classy finish by Aoife Donoghue helped them into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead, but it was level scores at the interval as Mulcahy punished a few indiscretions.
She gave Limerick the lead early in the second half but a run of three points, with McGrath providing one either side of Donoghue's second score, pushed Galway clear.
Sile Moynihan made a brilliant save from Karen Kennedy five minutes from the end of normal time to keep Joe Quaid's side in touch, though, and two brilliant Mulcahy frees left it at 0-11 to 0-10 entering injury-time.
Hennelly pushed the gap to two with a 62nd-minute free but Karen O'Leary almost snatched victory for Limerick, only to see her shot deflected out for a '45'.
"We're thrilled with that," said Galway manager Tony Ward, who credited the intermediate success for helping the seniors make it a historic double.
"It was the launching pad for us today. It was absolutely brilliant."
Limerick boss Quaid felt that we hadn't seen the best of his players but was already looking ahead to next year.
"We're gutted," he said. "I don't feel the girls performed to their potential, but we have to understand what a low base we came from last year and how many young girls we have on the team. I'm so, so proud of them for the way they tried out there today.
"I asked the girls after the match to commit to coming back next year. I don't want to hear about retirements or anything. I am committed to staying with them, and Ger (Sheehy) the same."
SCORERS – Galway: R Hennelly (3fs), O McGrath 0-4 each, A Donoghue 0-2, C Cormican, M Cooney 0-1 each. Limerick: N Mulcahy 0-8 (7fs), C Costello, M O'Callaghan 0-1 each.
GALWAY: R Callanan; T Kenny, S Healy, C Gill; P Kenny, S Noone, S Keane; A Callanan, C Cormican; K O'Dwyer, R Hennelly, M Cooney; F Keely, O McGrath, A Donoghue. Subs: D Burke for A Callanan (h-t), K Kennedy for Donoghue (52), A Lynskey for Keely (57), L Mitchell for O'Dwyer (60+2).
LIMERICK: S Moynihan; F Hickey, S Carey, J Mulcahy; M Ryan, M Casey, R Delee; D Fitzpatrick, K Campbell; C Costello, N Mulcahy, D Murphy; M Keating, M O'Callaghan, D O'Brien. Subs: A Wilson for Keating (h-t), K O'Leary for Campbell (44), J Garvey for O'Callaghan (54), J Wilson for Ryan (58).
REF – A O'Brien (Wexford)