All-Ireland SFC Round 1: Galway 0-16 Tyrone 0-13
Midway through the second half at Pearse Stadium on Saturday, word spread across the press box that Leinster’s 17-point advantage had been wiped out at the Aviva. Galway were leading by two or three points at the time, for that is how it was for the majority of this All-Ireland SFC round-robin opener.
Indeed, Galway’s biggest lead in Salthill was just four points, but at no stage did it ever feel like Tyrone were about to pull a La Rochelle on the Tribesmen.
From the moment Frank Burns received a straight red card in the 19th minute for a dangerous high tackle on Jack Glynn, there was an inevitability about the outcome. For while Galway were never able to pull away, thereafter Tyrone went about the contest like a wounded stubborn boxer mostly hoping to just take the fight the distance.
Galway led by two points when Burns was sent off and the gap was three at the interval, 0-7 to 0-4. Tyrone reduced the deficit to the minimum early in the second half, but they were never able to get level and at full-time the difference between the sides was again three.
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Having played most of the game with 14 men, and 10 minutes with just 13 players after Niall Morgan’s black card in the first half, Tyrone showed no little character in their refusal to go away. Still, Galway were comfortable three-point winners without ever having to go full throttle.
“Performance-wise, it probably wasn’t anywhere near our best,” said Pádraic Joyce. “We just lacked a bit of intent and urgency in our play in the first half. We never really got the crowd involved. It was a frustrating sort of performance.
“We left Tyrone in it, a kick of the ball on a wet day, anything could have happened. But any day you beat a Division One team by three points in the championship, you’d be happy enough.”
The rain started to fall just over half an hour before the 5.15pm throw-in and quickly transformed the occasion from a sunny championship evening to mimicking a grey and wet February league meeting.
“They are a big physical team as well as a good football team, they kind of held us at a distance a wee bit during the game, but that worked for us because we were no more than a kick of the ball away on a wet slippy day,” said joint Tyrone manager Feargal Logan.
“We just needed the break, we needed to get level but just couldn’t. Even at the end we thought we might sneak a goal but it didn’t happen.”
Early on, Michael McKernan picked up Shane Walsh, Pádraig Hampsey marshalled Damien Comer, and Ronan McNamee followed Ian Burke. At the other end of the field, Seán Kelly picked up Mattie Donnelly when he was inside, while John McGrath was on Darren McCurry.
Galway led by two points when the game’s pivotal moment occurred. Just as Glynn gathered a popped pass, Burns met him front-on with a dangerous high shoulder. The Tyrone player was apologising even before Glynn had hit the ground, but after consulting with his linesman, referee David Gough showed Burns a straight red card. Glynn had to be replaced.
“There was blood out of his mouth, he burst his gum,” said Joyce. “There is a concern that’s he concussed, but there’s concern on his jaw as well. His jaw is in a bit of bother, so we have to go and get that assessed in the hospital.
“Frank is not a dirty player, he just mistimed the tackle. It was a red card all day long, correct decision.”
Tyrone were reduced to 13 men soon after when Morgan was shown a black card for remonstrating with Gough over Burke’s high tackle on Peter Harte. Burke received a yellow card. Harte stood in as temporary Tyrone goalkeeper during Morgan’s sin-binning.
Galway were unable to really hammer home their two-man advantage and only extended their lead by a single point before Morgan returned. “We didn’t really capitalise on that,” admitted Joyce.
Tyrone outscored Galway 0-3 to 0-1 in the opening 11 minutes of the second half, but they just couldn’t get level for the remainder of the game.
“There is stuff to work on, definitely, but we will take the win,” added Joyce. “It would have been a disaster had we lost the game at the end. We always kept the one or two points in it, but we did leave Tyrone in it. On a wet night, a slippy ball, anything could have happened.”
But it didn’t. Galway, while never putting Tyrone away, always looked in control. It is a sign of their growing maturity and development that a win over the 2021 All-Ireland champions isn’t much for them to be getting fussed over. These days, it’s just what Galway do.
GALWAY: Conor Gleeson; Jack Glynn, Seán Kelly, John McGrath; Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Cillian McDaid (0-2); Paul Conroy (0-2), John Maher; Matthew Tierney (0-1), Johnny Heaney (0-1), Peter Cooke (0-2); Ian Burke, Damien Comer (0-1), Shane Walsh (0-6, 0-4f). Subs: Cathal Sweeney for Glynn (20 mins), Robert Finnerty (0-1) for McHugh (35mins +3); Tomo Culhane for Burke (ht); Cian Hernon for Maher (50 mins).
TYRONE: Niall Morgan; Michael McKernan, Pádraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee; Conor Meyler (0-1), Cormac Quinn (0-1), Peter Harte (0-1); Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick; Frank Burns, Michael O’Neill, Joe Oguz; Darren McCurry (0-7, 0-5f), Matthew Donnelly (0-1), Darragh Canavan (0-2, 0-2f). Subs: Seán O’Donnell for Oguz (50 mins); Niall Devlin for O’Neill (57 mins); Michael McGleenan for McNamee (66 mins); Ruairí Canavan for D Canavan (70 mins).
Referee: David Gough (Meath).