Sice’s goal sparks storming finish by footballers

FRANCIS FARRAGHER AT PEARSE STADIUM

Galway 1-16
Wexford 0-11

SPORT at times can be a curiously mysterious affair . . . for threequarters of this tie, Galway stared full eyed at the spectre of relegation and yet 15 minutes later there was a whisper, albeit a very quiet one, of a promotion possibility.

The reality, in the wake of this encouraging Division 2 league win over Wexford on Sunday at Pearse Stadium, probably lies somewhere in between those bipolar positions with Galway likely to berth into a reasonably solid upper mid-table slot.

While no one will look at this success in terms of it being the ‘great elixir’, this was, in its own modest way, a steadying of the ship with a retacking of the sails, especially in the context of the really morale sapping defeat that Galway had endured a week previously against Laois.

There was a decent bit of heart in this Galway display and particularly gratifying was the powerful finish that Alan Mulholland’s side delivered, shooting 1-6 without reply in the closing 13 minutes of the game, a scoring salvo that put to bed any linger relegation fears. A few players also seemed to have regained a decent measure of confidence after undergoing various crises through the Spring.

Captain Finian Hanley turned in his best display of the league at full back highlighted by one second half fetch; Colin Forde also settled in well after a tough start; Gary Sice showed great drive through the second half; Fionntáin Ó Curraoin pulled off a few inspirational fetches in the centre, while confidence also bubbled again in the forward forays of Sean Armstrong and Danny Cummins.

Mind you, it had all looked a lot differently at half-time when Galway only led by 0-8 to 0-7 after playing with the aid of the East wind that blew in quite venomously from the Docks.

Surely this threadbare lead couldn’t be enough to see them through and already there was a sense of foreboding about an April trip to the heart of the North for a relegation joust with Armagh.

Galway introduced Eoin Concannon for Anthony Griffin at half-time with Paul Conroy switching to midfield, while just before the break Gareth Bradshaw had replaced the injured Johnny Duane.

Both Conroy and Bradshaw made important early second half contributions through well taken points that put Galway 10-7 ahead – they were scores that dramatically altered the overall balance of the match.

Although Wexford did subsequently enjoy a period of dominance that yielded them four points from Shane Roche, Ben Brosnan, Redmond Barry and PJ Banville to put them 11-10 ahead, the game now appeared to be headed for a dogfight of the ‘one point’ variety.

After Sean Armstrong pointed neatly from play to level the contest, the balance of the game was about to swing the way of Galway, and in quite spectacular style too, with just 12 minutes left on the clock.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.