From Gary Connaughton in Moate
SUBSTITUTE Aoife Thompson bagged a hat-trick of goals as Galway advanced to the All-Ireland Minor 'A' Ladies Football final after a thrilling five-point extra-time victory over Cavan in Moate.
It will be the Connacht side's fifth final appearance in six years, when they lock horns with champions Cork on July 15.
Cavan, hoping to reach their first final since 1980, raced into a three point lead within the opening five minutes, a period which included an excellent solo score from full-forward Shanise Fitzsimons, who raced past a number of opposition defenders before slotting the ball over from 20 yards.
Galway began to control proceedings from here on in, settling before finding the back of the net in the 7th minute.
A fantastic run from wing-forward Amy Coen ended with a long ball into the Cavan square, where Andrea Trill rose highest and snatched the ball out of the air before turning and burying the ball into the roof of the net.
The Connacht side had the majority of the possession from here on, with Cavan struggling to cope with their running game.
They would kick four points in a row, with Trill adding a couple of scores to her first-half tally.
Cavan would respond with a fantastic long-range score from Aishling Gilsenan in the 22nd minute, with Fitzsimons finding the back of the to reduce the deficit to a point on the half-hour mark.
Galway would still find time to restore their six point lead before the half-time whistle. A point from Amy Coen was followed with a fortuitous goal from Chloe Miskell, whose long-range shot dropped short before being palmed into the net by the Cavan goalkeeper.
The second half once again started at a very high pace, with both teams exchanging a couple of scores to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Galway found the back of the net for the third time in the game when Thompson was slipped in by Trill before finishing calmly passed the opposition goalkeeper.
Galway added two more points to their tally before Cavan sprung into life.
A fantastic goal from centre forward Lauren McVeety was followed by a point from Elaine Brady, with Aisling Gilsenan grabbing Cavan's third goal in the 50th minute.
Galway responded instantly, going straight back up the pitch to score a goal of their own, with Thompson once again providing the finishing touch.
The goals continued to flow, this time Cavan's Muireann Cusack raising the green flag with a long-range dipping shot.
The teams exchanged two further points, giving Galway a two point advantage as the game entered additional time.
A point from Cusack gave the Ulster side a glimmer of hope, before a fantastic score from the dangerous McVeety with the last kick of the game sent a thrilling tie to extra-time.
The westerners got off to a perfect start in extra time when Thompson grabbed her third goal of the game via the penalty spot.
Another goal from Ciara McCarthy increased their lead, and Cavan seemed to run out of steam.
The second period of extra time produced only one score, with Galway keeping Cavan at arm's length to claim the win.
Galway: A Thompson (3-1, 1-0p), A Trill (1-3, 0-2f), C McCarthy (1-2), C Miskell (1-1, 0-1f), A Molloy (0-2), Amy Coen (0-2), L Meehan (0-1, 0-1f), M Hynes (0-1).
Cavan: A Gilsenan (1-4, 0-2f), L McVeety (1-3, 0-1f), S Fitzsimons (1-2), M Cusack (1-1), N Keenaghan (0-2), E Brady (0-1)
Cavan: R Reilly; A Brady, A McGovern, E McEnroe; Z Fay, R Gilsenan, K Mulligan (c); M Fitzpatrick, E McCabe; A Gilsenan, L McVeety, N Keenaghan; M Cucsack, S Fitzsimons, E Longair.
Subs used: A Kerrigan for R Reilly (23 mins), E Brady for E Longair (45 mins), A Dinneny for A McGovern (4 mins ET), A Brady for N Keenaghan (15 mins ET).
Galway: K Connolly; L Pettit, M Flanagan, C Crowe; K Geraghty, L Ahearne, L Noone (c); S Boyle, A Coen; Aoife Molloy, C Miskell, Amy Coen; L Meehan, A Trill, M Hynes.
Subs used: A Thompson for Aoife Coen (20 mins), C McCarthy for L Meehan (43 mins), L Finnegan for M Flanagan (52 mins), C O'Donoghue for Amy Coen (11 mins ET), K Screene for L Noone (11 mins ET).
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo).Tweet