Galway fightback seals final spot
Galway 1-14 Derry 1-11
A remarkable goal from second half substitute Matthew Clancy four minutes from time capped off a tenacious Galway comeback to deny Derry an All-Ireland final spot after an enthralling semi-final encounter at Croke Park this afternoon.
So Galway's dream of an All-Ireland double gathers momentum after the hurlers fine victory over Kilkenny at the capital venue last weekend. Only four teams in GAA history have completed the double - Cork in 1890 and 1990 and Tipperary in 1895 and 1900 - but supporters in the West are now beginning to believe that their team can add to that list.
A bustling first half started with Derry seizing the early initiative. Having adapted their style to combat Galway’s renowned positive starts, Derry’s slick passing and clever movement was rewarded through the opening point from Paddy Bradley.
Galway took time to adjust to Derry’s positive football and had nothing to show after kicking three poor wides inside the first ten minutes. Derry, showing a hunger today that had not been visible through the qualifying series, maintained the pressure and restricted Galway’s first score to the 12th minute.
Michael Donnellan’s dominance and creativity in midfield was rewarded with that opening point - a splendid score off his weaker right foot from close range. The score etched confidence through the team and the Tribesmen soon drew level after Joe Bergin’s point on 22 minutes.
Corner forward Derek Savage and Bergin then extended that advantage to two points before Derry hit back in real style. Derry centre half back Gary Coleman popped a brilliant high ball up to full forward Enda Muldoon who out fielded Galway captain Gary Fahey before unleashing an unstoppable shot.
Derry kept their momentum and on the stroke of half-time added further points from Dermot Dougan and Johnny McBride. Soon after, referee Michael Collins called a halt to the half with the beaten Ulster finalists taking to the break with a two point cushion on a scoreline of 1-6 to 0-7.
Galway’s Ja Fallon - who tore his hamstring in the final qualifier round victory over Cork five weeks ago - did start today but struggled throughout and was substituted early in the second half.
Galway lacked a leader in attack and struggled time and again to break through the water tight Derry defence, superbly lead by Sean Marty Lockhart at full back.
Derry carried over their momentum from the first half and posed a constant threat to Galway in the second and their goalkeeper, Alan Keane was called upon to make a significant save twelve minutes into the half, smothering Gavin Diamond’s effort from ten yards.
Galway reached crisis point midway through the second period when Anthony Tohill’s free - his only score - propelled Derry into a commanding five point lead. However, Galway replied in remarkable fashion, rattling Derry to the core in the process.
Derek Savage, Padraig Joyce and Sean Og de Paor all pointed to reduce the margin to a goal. Galway had upped their work level through the ranks and had a weary Derry outfit on the back foot.
Joyce added another free moments before substitute Matthew Clancy’s game altering contribution four minutes from time.
Savage, an inspirational figure for Galway, cleverly held up the ball in the right corner before looking up and hand passing into the path of the onrushing Clancy.
The substitute collected well before coming back outside his marker and drilling the ball high into Owen McCloskey’s net from the tightest of angles to establish a three point advantage.
Derry, who dominated the game throughout, had simply self-destructed and had little retaliation to Galway’s dogged final quarter recovery.