Allianz FL D1: Gritty Galway defeat Tyrone

Allianz Football League Division One

Galway 1-10 Tyrone 0-12

By Francis Mooney at O’Neill’s Healy Park

Galway’s first win of the season provided a huge lift as they held on to edge out Tyrone by a single point at O’Neills Healy Park.

Cathal Sweeney’s second half goal the key score for the Tribesmen as they finally found the winning touch in what they hope will be a major turning point.

The return of Sean Kelly was a major boost, but an injury to Paul Conroy is causing some concern to manager Padraig Joyce as they prepare to take on table-toppers Derry next weekend.

The ball stuck like glue to Rob Finnerty’s hands as he fetched cleanly to fire over three early points, with Paul Conroy hitting the target from distance in a positive opening for the Tribesmen.

They swarmed forward, invited to do so by a deep-lying Tyrone defensive set-up, moving into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead by the 15th minute.

Recycling possession in search of a spare man or a yard of space, Padraic Joyce’s men stretched their opponents, but lost their way in the second quarter, when the scores alarmingly dried up.

The Red Hands were happy to hit their opponents on the breakaway, with goalkeeper Niall Morgan pressing forward to pick out Ciaran Daly for a mark, and Darragh Canavan on target from a free in that opening 15 minute spell.

But they went 16 minutes without a score, before Peter Harte curled over a delightful score, followed by a Morgan effort from play.

Darragh Canavan danced through for his first score of the afternoon, their third in as many minutes, to put his side in front for the first time just before the half-hour mark.

And there was a goal chance as well for a home side that was beginning to find holes in a nervous Galway defence. Conn Kilpatrick galloped through to get his shot away, but was denied by Connor Gleeson as the Red Hands stepped up the pressure, with Morgan’s press from deep a huge element in their offensive set-up.

And they found a way to frustrate Galway, with Ciaran Daly forcing a couple of turnovers and intercepts from Aodhan Donaghy and Peter Harte, the latter preventing a goal chance as he got a hand to Johnny McGrath’s pass.

Galway, having lost their way, failed to score for the closing 24 minutes of the half, and a Morgan free sent the home side in with a 0-6 to 0-4 lead.

A further blow for Galway saw influential midfielder Conroy fail to show for the second half, his leg heavily strapped and a major worry for manager Joyce.

But they started with a flourish, Matthew Tierney flashing over a point after just 15 seconds, and a breakaway Johnny Heaney point brought the sides level.

But place-kicking presented a problem for the Connacht men, with Finnerty and Tierney both missing the target with scoreable efforts, while at the other end, Canavan edged the Red Hands back in front.

Sean Kelly came off the bench for his first appearance of the season, with instant impact, as moments later he was involved in the move that saw Rory Cunningham send Cathal Sweeney in to crack home a 49th minute goal.

Now they committed all 15 men to the resistance cause as they defended a slender lead, but remained dangerous on the breakaway, adding points through Heaney and Daniel O’Flaherty, while Sweeney was denied a second goal by Morgan’s brilliant save.

Johnny McGrath finished off a slick move with a point to put three between the sides with five minutes to play, and from then on it was all about game management.

Scorers for Galway: R Finnerty 0-4, (1f, 1m), C Sweeney 1-0, J Heaney 0-2, M Tierney, J McGrath, D O’Flaherty, P Conroy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tyrone: D Canavan (1f) and C Daly (1m) 0-3 each , N Morgan 0-2 (1f), M McKernan, P Harte, C Devlin, C Kilpatrick (m) 0-1 each.

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Fitzgerald, S Mulkerrin; D McHugh, J Daly, K Molloy; P Conroy, J Maher; J Heaney, M Tierney, C Sweeney; R Finnerty, C O Curraoin, L O Conghaile.

Subs: C Darcy for O Curraoin (31), R Cunningham for Conroy (HT), D O’Flaherty for Molloy (42), N Daly for Tierney (63).

Tyrone: N Morgan; C Devlin, P Hampsey, A Clarke; N Devlin, M McKernan, C Quinn; B Kennedy, A Donaghy; P Harte, C Kilpatrick, S O’Donnell; L McGarrity, D Canavan, C Daly.

Subs: R Canavan for D Canavan, K McGeary for McGarrity, M McGleenan for Donaghy (59).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).