by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Galway captain Sarah Dervan believes that the examination Waterford subjected her team to in the Quarter-Final will stand to the Tribeswomen in Saturday’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final against All-Ireland champions Cork at the LIT Gaelic Grounds (7.15pm).
The National League winners were hot favourites to dispense with their less experienced rivals but were on the back foot throughout the opening period, despite hitting Waterford for a goal from Aoife Donohue after just 16 seconds.
Such was the Waterford dominance that Galway went in at half-time trailing by four points.
It almost got worse, as despite an interval recalibration, it was the Déise who started the second-half better and created two glorious goal chances.
Fortunately, Sarah Healy was up to the challenge, first saving Niamh Rockett’s shot, albeit that it was a nice height for her, but then somehow getting her hurley to deflect the sliotar around the bottom right corner of the post – the most difficult movement for a right-handed goalkeeper – from Annie Fitzgerald’s shrewdly-placed hand-pass.
Beth Carton converted the resultant 45 to put five between them but had Waterford moved seven clear and been buoyed by another three-pointer, Galway’s backs would have been against the wall.
As it was, they gradually turned the screw and with Dervan leading a staunch defensive effort that ensured no further scores were yielded, and Ailish O’Reilly and Noreen Coen capitalising on the increased supply, Galway advanced.
“The first-half was a bit non-existent for us.” said Dervan on Galway Bay FM. “In fairness to Waterford, they put our pin to our collar but in the second-half, my God them women, they stood up, each and every one of them.
“They were wonderful. The heart and determination they showed in the second-half was something I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m just delighted we dug it out. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means but it is going to improve us.”
And Dervan paid special tribute to Healy, who stepped up from Minor hurling to succeed Susan Earner upon the long-time custodian’s retirement a few years ago and is now blossoming into an elite goalkeeper.
“She is a sharp operator and she was on the money. It will do wonders for her confidence. She’s an outstanding goalie.”
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