Two goals from Ailbhe Davoren and one from Kate Slevin in the final minute secured a six-point opening day victory for Galway in the TG4 All-Ireland SeniorChampionship at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
The Tribeswomen trailed 1-9 to 1-8 entering the final quarter but 1-2 unanswered, including Davoren’s second goal set up by Nicola Ward and Eva Noone, finally gave the team managed by Fiona Wynne and Maghnus Breathnach a buffer.
Cork refused to yield as Katie Quirke and Doireann O’Sullivan left them just 2-11 to 1-11 behind but when Nicola Ward went on another trademark run in the final minute, she found Slevin inside who finished the job.
Both teams took their time to settle before Cork opened with a Doireann O’Sullivan free on four minutes. But the pace picked up not long after with Hannah Noone equalising for Galway three minutes.
Both attacks asked probing questions but it was Galway who first reaped dividends when Leanne Coen, Louise and Nicola Ward combined to put Davoren through for their first goal on nine minutes.
That left it 1-1 to 0-1 but Cork were back in charge within four minutes. Two Doireann O’Sullivan frees reduced arrears to the minimum. But when Eimear Kiely’s 45 dropped into the square on 13 minutes, Doireann O’Sullivan couldn’t find a way past keeper Karen Connolly but her sister Ciara was on hand to stroke into the net.
Cork were two ahead but the Tribeswomen equalised by the quarter hour with cousins Roisin and Tracey Leonard finding the target. The sides were level twice more as after the O’Sullivan sisters raised Cork white flags, Coen and Tracey Leonard did likewise for Galway.
It was 1-5 apiece on 20 minutes before the Munster champions restored their lead. Captain Máire O’Callaghan was introduced for the injured Sarah Leahy and she set up Ciara O’Sullivan.
However, Galway had the final say as a Roisin Leonard free, and Davoren gave the hosts a 1-7 to 1-6 interval lead.
Again, the second period was slow in accelerating as Cork gained the advantage with Doireann O’Sullivan landing two frees, the second won by Melissa Duggan.
Roisin Leonard profited from a splitting pass by cousin Treacy to level at 1-8 apiece. And after Doireann O’Sullivan tallied again, Slevin’s first free levelled the teams for the eighth time.
But after another, they set up Davoren for her second goal and Galway didn’t look back with Slevin concluding a great result for the maroon and white when she slotted home their third goal in the dying moments of a very good contest.
Scorers – Galway: A Davoren 2-1, K Slevin 1-3 (0-2f), R Leonard 0-3 (1f), T Leonard 0-2, H Noone 0-1, L Coen 0-1.
Cork: D O’Sullivan 0-8 (8f), C O’Sullivan (1-2), K Quirke 0-1.
GALWAY: K Connolly; K Geraghty, S Ni Loingsigh, A Ni Cheallaigh; A Molloy, N Ward, S Brennan; L Ward, L Coen; O Divilly, H Noone, L Noone; T Leonard, A Davoren, R Leonard.Subs: K Slevin for R Leonard (41), E Noone for L Noone (41), S Healy for Brennan (41), S Divilly for Molloy (54), C Miskell for T Leonard (53).
CORK: M O’Sullivan; M Duggan, E Meaney, R Phelan; E Cleary, S Kelly, A Ryan; S Leahy, H Looney; K Quirke, D O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan; L O’Mahony, E Kiely, D Kiely.Subs: M O’Callaghan for Leahy (15), L Coppinger for Cleary (42), D Kiniry for O’Mahony (51), L Fitzgerald for D Kiely (52).
Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry)