SO far, so good! Galway’s return to Division One of the National Football League cleared the second hurdle in the seven-obstacle race with only millimetres to spare but it was still enough to keep them neck-and-neck with the leaders of a highly competitive field.
Galway’s long trek north to O’Donnell Park on the Glenties Road out from Letterkenny was blessed with benign Spring sunshine and a decent playing surface that was also able to cater for the Donegal/Derry National League hurling tie as the curtain raiser.
A small but enthusiastic band of Galway supports went north on Sunday but they were very much the voices in the wilderness amongst a home crowd of 5,053 people at the quite picturesque North Donegal venue.
At times the fare was far from pretty with both sides defending in depth whenever the opposition had possession – the tactical strategy of both camps was pretty similar: defend in numbers and then strike at pace on the counter-attack.
Galway looked a better team for most of the first half – and also during the closing minutes of the match – but they did endure an elongated period of Donegal pressure during the third-quarter, when at times the home side looked poised to push on for victory.
When a Patrick McBrearty free edged Donegal 0-12 to 1-8 in front, just seven minutes into the second-half, it looked as if a draw would be a great result for Galway, but Kevin Walsh’s side re-grouped and staged a strong late finish that should, in the end, have left them a bit more comfortably ahead.
Galway’s goal strike 15 minutes into the first half was the critical incident of the match. Peter Cooke looked to have lost possession inside the Donegal half of the pitch but still managed to feed the ball out to Declan Kyne and his quick-fire pass to Eamonn Brannigan set up the St. Michael’s clubman to shoot crisply past Peter Boyle.
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune