PREVIEW: Galway Senior LGFA vs Waterford (Saturday, 4.45pm Birr) 

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TG4 Ladies Football

Galway’s senior ladies football team venture into the unknown on Saturday when in the new round-robin format.  And after the Deise fell to Westmeath last weekend by 2-12 to 2-11, victory for the Connacht champions will see Stephen Glennon’s team advance to the final eight. 

That will be the squad’s sole focus and even though they enter as raging hot favourites following their league semi-final exploits and Connacht Final success over Mayo, the Munster side carry many pitfalls that Galway can’t take for granted.

After winning the All-Ireland intermediate championship in 2015, Waterford beat Armagh in 2016 before taking the scalps of Kerry, Cork and Cavan last year.  They topped Division Two this year before losing the semi-final to the Breffni women.  And they have that Westmeath game under their belt.

A late Leanne Slevin free denied Pat Sullivan’s charges and they must beat Galway to survive.    Double goal scorer Aileen Wall, Maria Delahunty and Keeley Corbett Barry are their chief attackers.  The versatile captain Mairead Wall is the link to key defenders like Kate McGrath, Rebecca Casey and Megan Dunford.

Memories of a fancied Galway losing to Donegal in the 2016 qualifiers will counter any complacency but after their performance against Mayo and their unlucky league semi-final reversal against Dublin, anything less than a straight forward win will raise questions about the Tribeswomens’ credentials.

As much as Waterford’s threats can’t be ignored, they are a division behind and with a full deck to pick from, Galway should be quarter-finalists Saturday evening.  Roisin Leonard and Olivia Divilly are carrying knocks but expected to be available while Lisa Gannon (married) and Louise Ward (injured) return.

Noelle Connolly performed well against Mayo and will challenge Charlotte Cooney, Nicola Ward and Emer Flaherty for defensive positions.  Caitriona Cormican and Aine McDonagh should partner in midfield; with Tracey Leonard, Mairead Seoighe and Leanne Coen among the attacking options.

Galway 2018 have shown more steel but carrying the favourites tag has never set well on maroon and white jerseys.  However, they must hold their nerve and they still need to stay unbeaten to maintain momentum.

Verdict: Galway 

Galway face Waterford in their opening game of the 2018 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Round Robin series on Saturday, 21st July.  Throw-in at St. Brendan’s Park, Birr is 4.45pm.