Improved second-half performance sees Galway advance to quarter-final


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Improved second-half performance sees Galway advance to quarter-final Improved second-half performance sees Galway advance to quarter-final

Galway  0-14

Monaghan  0-11

By Pádraic Ó Ciardha at Pearse Stadium

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but a strong second-half showing from Galway was enough to get them over the line against Monaghan in the preliminary quarter-final last Saturday and ensure that Pádraic Joyce’s side reach Croke Park and go at least one step further than they managed last year.

Between the damp, dreary conditions and the damp, dreary football, it was hard to get too excited in Pearse Stadium last Saturday afternoon, but the result meant the Galway contingent amongst the crowd of 6,766 could head home feeling a little brighter and anyone who was in Salthill at this stage last year was sure of one thing, beating Monaghan in the rain felt a lot better than losing to Mayo in the sunshine.

There was a while when it looked as if Galway’s failure to hold out against Armagh and secure direct passage to the All-Ireland quarter-finals was going to haunt them. Despite playing with the aid of a pretty stiff breeze, Galway had just two points on the board after nearly 30 minutes of first half play and, having seen Shane Walsh limp off already, the home side’s prospects looked bleak enough.

A late burst of scores saw Galway head in at half-time leading 0-6 to 0-5, however, and the Tribesmen finally took control of the contest in the second-half. Having kicked six scores from 12 shots in the first-half, Galway were a lot more efficient after the break, kicking eight points from eight shots in a remarkable display of efficiency.

Galway essentially won the game thanks to a decisive 10-minute spell between the 52nd and 62nd minutes where they kicked five points in a row, the last of those coming from the boot of Damien Comer, who made his return after missing the last two games with a muscle injury.

Things could have been a lot different had Monaghan taken the goal chance that they were presented with during that spell of Galway dominance but Barry McBennett’s effort, which would have put Monaghan a point ahead had it found the back of the net, instead crashed against the bar.

Galway would have been aggrieved had the goal been scored as there appeared to be a clear foul on John Maher in the build-up when he was taken out in the air by Jack McCarron. The moment lost all importance when McBennett’s shot bounced the right side of the goal line from a Galway point of view, but it was no coincidence that it was Maher who was centrally involved as the Salthill-Knocknacarra man put in an all-action performance, popping up all over the pitch to win breaks, catch kickouts, gain yards and even kicking another point, adding to the one he got against Armagh.

Galway’s start to the game was mundane, to say the least. It took until the 10th minute to register their first shot, a Shane Walsh free which dropped short. To compound matters, Walsh seemed to aggravate his hamstring injury in attempting to add a little extra to the kick against the wind and was forced off 15 minutes later.

Walsh did convert a free after 12 minutes to get Galway off the mark and Paul Conroy followed it up with a point from distance to put the Tribesmen 0-2 to 0-1 ahead after a quarter of an hour.

Monaghan hit back with three scores on the bounce, however, as Micheál Bannigan, Gary Mohan and Stephen O’Hanlon, who was enjoying a good battle with Johnny McGrath, all found the target. Monaghan probably should have been further ahead but some wayward shooting allowed Galway to reel them in before the break.

Pictured: Monaghan’s Andrew Woods is tackled by Galway’s Seán Kelly, Seán Mulkerrin and Paul Conroy, during the preliminary quarter-final of the All-Ireland Senior Championship at Pearse Stadium last Saturday. Photo: Iain McDonald.

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