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Injury-hit Galway show no shortage of bottle in overcoming Tyrone men

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WE assume the gun was put to the heads of the Galway footballers at half-time in Omagh last Sunday. Well, how else can you explain the radical shift in the team’s approach on the resumption. Gone were their pedestrian and lateral build ups to be replaced by a far more dynamic attacking style.

In sport, possession may be nine tenths of the law, but not for Galway in the opening 35-plus minutes at Healy Park. They nearly had enough of the ball to win two matches but instead found themselves trailing by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break against a Tyrone outfit which was no great shakes.

Sure, Galway are in the midst of a protracted injury crisis, but that couldn’t excuse their slow execution in the Tyrone half of the field. Initially, they had gone about their business with some purpose and Rob Finnerty was the main beneficiary with a hat-trick of points inside 15 minutes. The last of these a quality score after a typical John Daly threaded delivery.

But as the half progressed, Galway began to dilly and dally, back and forth across the field with 29 players often in the opposition half of the field. Such a crowded zone militated against created openings for scoring and the Tribesmen went over 20 minutes without adding to their tally. At the break, it looked Tyrone’s game to lose.

Padraic Joyce and his mentors knew they would probably get a free pass if the result went against them in Omagh given all the key players who were unavailable, but that would have represented fragile consolation. The mentors needed to see more drive, more heart, and more of a spark from the 15 men they had on the field.

When you’re in a hole, that’s when you find out about a team. The character they have or don’t have; the ambition they have or don’t have; the will to win they have or don’t have. Joyce surely reminded his players at half-time that what he seen in the first-half was not acceptable for a Galway team. They needed to lift the intensity; they didn’t let him down.

Sometimes, all it takes is one moment of defiance or brilliance to lift a team. Matthew Tierney lit that fire at the start of the second-half with a magnificent score after a surging run. Suddenly, Galway had more of a cutting edge about them. Johnny Heaney was untouchable on the right wing; substitute Daniel O’Flaherty’s pace also helped turn the game while the sight of team captain Seán Kelly entering the fray was another huge lift.

Pictured: Galway camogie referees Enda Loughnane, Sarah Gaughran, Mike Ryan and Karol Collins at the Camogie Association’s Media, Volunteer and Referees’ Dinner in Croke Park.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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