Galway brush Roscommon aside to get back on track

Pádraic Joyce’s side needed a response after Kerry mauling and got one in Salthill

Galway 2-16 Roscommon 1-13

Not a game that will be spoken of in 20 days, let alone 20 years. But for Galway, it was just the tonic. A solid defensive afternoon allied to glimpses, at least, of the kind of attacking menace with which they opened the Joyce era last year gave Galway a comfortable win here. Balm to the wounds of the 22-point mauling inflicted by Kerry a week ago.

"Look it, we were poor last week and it wasn't acceptable," Pádraic Joyce said afterwards as the sound of seagulls and boy racers reverberated around Salthill.

“But they trained really hard all week. The lads spoke about it and they prepared really well - and that’s the worrying thing about last week, that we had trained really hard.


“We didn’t see that performance coming last week but, in fairness, they knuckled down this week, they got the head down and they worked hard for one another. Even today, they did set out with a bit of intent.

“And even all our subs that came on the pitch made a big difference. None of them were sulking, the lads who didn’t start, in fairness to them; they were encouraging fellas all the time . . . they were really, really positive all week and it showed there today.”

Roscommon caused Galway a serious sense of worry for all of 60 seconds. After 60 minutes of play, the match was ambling along fairly predictable league lines when just like that, the visitors went rogue and concocted a goal out of nothing: a long ball from Shane Killoran and a smart finish from Ciaráin Murtagh - once again the chief Primrose threat.

Even as Roscommon were initiating that attack, Galway were preparing to introduce Dessie Conneely and Tomo Culhane. The substitutes engineered an immediate response upon their introduction: Conneely's attempted point came back off the post and Culhane was perfectly placed to bat home a goal from close range. 2-14 to 1-12 again: panic over.

Dublin visit Tuam, a football heritage site, next weekend. Galway needed to produce something to build towards over the afternoon. Five points from play from Rob Finnerty added to the usual outrageous turns from Shane Walsh led Galway's scoring charge.

Paul Conroy had a quietly dominant game, bossing the midfield sector and playing a sublime ball through for Liam Silke who ghosted through the Roscommon back line for what should have been Galway's third goal after 50 minutes. Damien Comer was busy and contributed points and, as the game opened, there were signs of Galway's backs and forwards interplay with Johnny Heaney and Seán Kelly both pushing forward to created scoring chances.

After the Kerry experience, what we saw here was a young Galway team feeling its way into this game. Joyce deviated from his named team at the last moment, with Rob Finnerty, Kieran Molloy and Finnian Ó Laoi coming into the starting line-up. The replacements fitted in seamlessly. Finnerty, son of Mayo folk hero Anthony, had an outstanding game, smoothly taking four points from play and firing five from seven attempts over the day.

“There are huge positives,” said Joyce.

"Kieran Molloy got his first start today and was exceptional. He nullified Enda Smith all the game. Finnian Ó Laoi came in and played a sweeping role and did really well. The lads worked hard. Paul Conroy was immense at midfield. You had Rob up front with his finishing. The lads at the back were very, very tight. I know Roscommon kicked 10 or 11 frees but you would question some of those."

Any fear that Galway had somehow displeased the gods were dispelled when Kelly finished attack work Dylan McHugh and Comer to slide home a goal after three minutes. It settled nerves: the Kerry game fell into the past.

As usual. Salthill offered the added entertainment of a strong breeze and the locals were playing into it so the early goal was important. Matthew Tierney dropped into midfield and played a very composed first half.

At the other end, Galway's defence held Roscommon to just two points from play and the Rossies concocted no goal chance to speak of playing with the breeze. All afternoon, they were reliant on the Howitzer boot of Murtagh and the accurate Donie Smith to keep the scoreboard ticking over from frees. It was all fairly routine stuff. But leading 1-7 to 0-8 at the break - and with news that Kerry had shipped three first-half goals down in Thurles - the Galway men have felt better about life.

"The positive for us is that we played really well to get into the game, a great move and a great goal," said Anthony Cunningham.

“And to concede then seconds later is something that can’t happen. Because the game was effectively over then. That’s disappointing but something we will be working on week on week and hopefully we will be all set for the fourth of July, which is our big day of destiny this year.”

They play Galway that day, too. It’s the one that matters. But for now, both sides have more immediate monsters to contend with. Kerry visit Roscommon next weekend while Galway prepare for the All-Ireland champions.

“It is not an easy game,” Joyce said.

“Another juggernaut coming down the road at us full tilt. It is in our own hands. If we beat Dublin we qualify for a league semi-final. That is the approach we are taking.”

GALWAY: 1 B Power; 2 S Kelly, 3 S Mulkerrin, 4 J Glynn; 20 K Molloy, 6 D McHugh, 5 L Silke; 13 M Tierney, 9 P Conroy; 10 P Kelly (1-0), 11 D Comer (0-2), 26 F Ó Laoi; 24 R Finnerty (0-5, one mark), 12 E Brannigan, 14 S Walsh (0-7, five frees).

Subs: 8 P Cooke for 10 P Kelly (42 mins), 7 J Heaney (0-1) for 12 E Brannigan (49), 15 D Conneely for 24 R Finnerty, 25 T Culhane (1-1) for 13 M Tierney (both 63), 23 R Steede for 11 D Comer (69), 17 J Duane for 6 D McHugh (71 mins), 18 G O'Donnell for 20 K Molloy (71).

ROSCOMMON: 1 C Lavin; 2 D Murray, 4 G Patterson, 6 N Daly; 7 B Stack, 5 R Hughes, 3 M Mullooly ; 8 E Nolan, 9 T O'Rourke; 10 C Devanney, 15 C Cregg, 12 E Smith (0-1); 13 C Murtagh (1-5, four frees), 11 C McKeon, 14 D Shine (0-7, five frees).

Subs: 17 D Neary for 4 G Patterson (30 mins), 19 C Hussey for 5 R Hughes, 23 D Murtagh for 10 C Devaney (both h-t), 21 S Killoran for 11 C McKeon (47), 24 C Cox for 15 C Cregg, 22 N Kilroy for 8 E Nolan (both 51), 25 H Darcy for 13 C Murtagh (67).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).