Alan Dooley in Ruislip
IF Galway had finished off last Sunday’s Connacht championship opener in a similar manner and style as the way in which they dominated two spells in either half, then the narrative surrounding their unimpressive victory over a game London side would have been completely different to one which suggested a get out of jail card had been utilised far too early in the year.
Between the 14th and 25th minute, Galway cultivated a five-point lead with some excellent play that was partially wiped out by Killian Butler’s smashing goal, while the visitors then dominated the opening eight minutes of the second half to re-establish a four-point advantage. Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got for the large band of Galwegians who had made the pilgrimage to west London.
According to possession statistics Galway may well have “controlled” the second half, but it was largely a very frustrating spectacle for the last half hour as pedestrian build-up play and basic errors limited Galway’s scoring opportunities. Despite shooting errantly on four consecutive occasions, London were still within three points when Michael Daly lost possession at midfield with just over three minutes remaining and a swift counter attack saw Butler presented with a glorious chance.
The livewire forward rightly chose to shoot across goal from close range, but his effort was slightly off target and substitute Seán Hickey was a fraction too late arriving in to apply the finishing touch. Whether the prospect of extra time would have shaken Galway from their lethargy is anyone’s guess, but Shane Walsh finally took the contest out of reach with a free deep into injury time, a third successive placed ball effort in a closing 30minutes of action without a single Galway score from play.
Yet again a recurring theme with Galway in recent times was their inability to convert swift, accurate attacking play into goals, which allowed London to maintain their defensive structure and not go chasing the game at any point. On three separate occasions in the opening 15 minutes the umpires were almost reaching for the green flag but Gavin McEvoy maintained his clean sheet with only one save of note to be made from Tom Flynn on 11 minutes.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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