Allianz FL D1: Galway secure vital victory

Allianz Football League Division One

Galway 3-12 Monaghan 0-14

By Colm Shalvey at St Tiernach’s Park

Galway gave their hopes of staying in Division One of the Allianz NFL a significant boost with a win over Monaghan in Clones.

The return of some of Monaghan’s veterans wasn’t enough to inspire a bounce back to winning ways for the hosts, who remain bottom of the table after a disastrous finish to the first half.

Galway pounced for three goals during that spell, with Cathal Sweeney, Rory Cunningham and John Maher all profiting from defensive errors to put the visitors in the driving seat. They were always able to keep Monaghan at arm’s length from there on as they secured a win that sees them jump out of the relegation zone with two rounds remaining.

The teams shared just two points each in the first ten minutes, with Dessie Ward’s opener for Monaghan being answered by a Rob Finnerty free. As the game belatedly came to life, points from Rory Cunningham and Finnerty for Galway were cancelled out by Jack McCarron and the lively Michael Hamill. McCarron regained the lead for Monaghan on 25 minutes, but things unravelled for the home side in the remainder of the first half.

The initial dagger arrived when Monaghan failed to deal with a hopeful punt forward from Dylan McHugh, allowing Cathal Sweeney to hit the net. Another followed within five minutes, as Cunningham reacted quickest when a Finnerty free came back off the woodwork to fire home a second goal, moments after Andrew Woods had been black-carded.

Monaghan responded through McCarron, Mícheál Bannigan and Hamill, only to have all that work undone deep into added time when they couldn’t clear a sideline from Finnerty, allowing John Maher to scramble home a third major for Galway, who led by 3-4 to 0-7 at the break.

Despite managing third-quarter points from Bannigan, Ward and returning sub Conor McCarthy, Monaghan were never able to significantly eat into their deficit, with Galway able to reply via John Daly, Cunningham and Cillian Ó Curraoin.

Conor McManus marked his first appearance of the season with a late point from a free, but Ó Curraoin ended his half-hour’s work with 0-5 to his name – four from frees and one from a forward mark – as the Tribesmen stayed well clear, with Seán Kelly capping their win with a great score late on.

Galway host an in-form Dublin side in round six, while Monaghan face an Ulster derby away to Tyrone.

Scorers for Monaghan: Jack McCarron 0-4 (2f, 1m), Michael Hamill 0-2, Dessie Ward 0-2, Mícheál Bannigan 0-2 (1f, 1m), Conor McCarthy 0-2, Ryan O’Toole 0-1, Conor McManus 0-1f.

Scorers for Galway: Rory Cunningham 1-3, Cillian Ó Curraoin 0-5 (4f, 1m), John Maher 1-0, Cathal Sweeney 1-0, Rob Finnerty 0-2 (2fs), John Daly 0-1, Seán Kelly 0-1.

Galway: Connor Gleeson; Seán Mulkerrin, Johnny McGrath, Seán Fitzgerald; Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Daniel O’Flaherty; John Maher, Céin D’Arcy; Johnny Heaney, Seán Kelly, Cathal Sweeney; Niall Daly, Rob Finnerty, Rory Cunningham.

Subs: Jack Glynn for Mulkerrin (26), Liam Ó Conghaile for Finnerty (HT), Cillian Ó Curraoin for D’Arcy (47), Kieran Molloy for Heaney (49), Parick Egan for Sweeney (65).

Monaghan: Darren McDonnell; Thomas McPhillips, Ryan Wylie, Ryan O’Toole; Karl O’Connell, Kieran Duffy, Killian Lavelle; Mícheál McCarville, Darren Hughes; Michael Hamill, Mícheál Bannigan, Dessie Ward; Andrew Woods, Jack McCarron, Ciarán McNulty.

Subs: Conor McCarthy for Woods (45), Conor McManus for McNulty (49), David Garland for O’Connell (54), Jason Irwin for Bannigan (62), Kevin Loughran for Ward (65).

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).