Galway keep Tyrone at arm’s length in fiery affair

Galway 0-16 Tyrone 0-13 

Half an hour before throw-in, sunny Salthill lost its sun. The heavens opened. Those tanning on the terraces scattered for shelter. Galway and Tyrone players warming up out on the field went rooting for gloves and a change of footwear.

Neither team had bargained for such unseasonal weather. Tyrone certainly hadn’t bargained to find themselves operating with just 13 men 25 minutes into the first half.

The first casualty of this early evening All-Ireland group phase fixture was Frank Burns. The Tyrone half-forward was shown a straight red by referee David Gough for a head-high challenge on Jack Glynn 20 minutes in.

Galway corner-back Glynn was the second casualty of the evening. He followed Burns out to the sideline, white bandaging pressed against his jaw. Rushed in as his replacement was Cathal Sweeney.

Paul Conroy pointed shortly after to move the hosts 0-6 to 0-3 in front. A few minutes further on again and Galway found themselves three up on the scoreboard and two bodies up inside the whitewash. The card flashed by Gough on this occasion was black, Tyrone ‘keeper Niall Morgan told to take a 10-minute timeout for verbal dissent.

A number 16 shirt was quickly ferried out to Peter Harte who took on the role of fly-keeper while Morgan was in the bin.

Galway, with the wind at their backs, were slow to make use of their 15 v 13 advantage. Peter Cooke’s 33rd-minute point, after slick build-up play by Johnny McGrath and the busy Cillian McDaid, was their sole score during the 10 minutes where they had a two-person advantage.

Indeed, when Darren McCurry swung over a free in the fifth and final minute of first-half stoppages, a massively disruptive opening period for Tyrone had ended with them only three adrift.

They might even have been closer but for Galway ‘keeper Connor Gleeson saving very well from Joe Oguz early on. It was the only real goal chance of the half.

Galway did nothing special to bag maximum points in this opening group game of the All-Ireland series. What they did do well was to at all times keep Tyrone at arm’s reach post the Burns sending off.

The northerners only once succeeded in narrowing the gap to the minimum in the second half. And when they did, after a Darragh Canavan free on 47 minutes, Galway issued the promptest of replies. McDaid was fouled, Walsh converted. In essence, Galway had an answer each time Tyrone thought they might be stumbling onto a bit of momentum or a string of scores.

The gap stood at two on four occasions across the final 25 minutes. Matthew Tierney, Paul Conroy, off the left, McDaid, and sub Rob Finnerty, with the fist, all raised white flags to keep Joyce’s side safe, if not home, out of the rain, and dry.

Another key settling score was that provided by Damien Comer on 67 minutes. Comer had been well tagged by Pádraig Hampsey throughout but made enough room for himself on the stand side to curl over.

Three down, Tyrone went chasing a green flag during the five minutes of injury-time. The rain and high balls poured down inside the Galway 13-metre line. The hosts dealt with each and every hopeful aerial assault. A Darren McCurry converted free was all they managed.

McCurry accounted for just over half their total, five of his seven from the dead ball. The visitors did not score from play from the 12th minute of the first half to the third minute of the second. They didn’t score from play from the hour mark to the finish.

A home fixture against Armagh is next up for them in a fortnight. Even if they lose there and suffer a third-consecutive championship defeat of 2023, this group of life won’t have them in any trouble of elimination.

For Galway, a third championship win on the bounce. They’ll be confident of extending that to four against Westmeath.

Scorers for Galway: S Walsh (0-6, 0-4 frees); C McDaid, P Conroy, P Cooke (0-2 each); M Tierney, J Heaney, D Comer, R Finnerty (0-1 each).

Scorers for Tyrone: D McCurry (0-7, 0-5 frees); D Canavan (0-2, 0-2 frees); C Meyler, C Quinn, P Harte, M Donnelly (0-1 each).

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Kelly, J Glynn; D McHugh, J Daly, C McDaid; P Conroy, J Maher; P Cooke, J Heaney, M Tierney; I Burke, D Comer, S Walsh.

Subs: C Sweeney for Glynn (20 mins, inj); R Finnerty for McHugh (38 mins); T Culhane for Burke (HT); C Hernon for Maher (50).

Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan, P Hampsey, R McNamee; C Meyler, C Quinn, P Harte; B Kennedy, C Kilpatrick; J Oguz, M O’Neill, F Burns; D Canavan, M Donnelly, D McCurry.

Subs: S O’Donnell for Oguz (51); N Devlin for O’Neill (57); K McGeary for O’Donnell (temporary, 58-60); M McGleenan for McNamee (66); R Canavan for D Canavan (71).

Referee: D Gough (Meath).