Galway edge Kildare to return to the top table
Already promoted Lilywhites seen off in Salthill as Galway end seven year wait
Shane Walsh on the ball against Kildare on Sunday. He will be playing in Division One next year. Photograph: Inpho
Galway 0-14 Kildare 0-13
Galway secured Division One football for next season as they overcame already promoted Kildare by just a single point at Pearse Stadium. Next year will be Galway’s first season in the top tier since 2011.
Fionn Dowling impressed for Kildare as he hit five points, the first of these coming in the opening minute. Rory Lavelle came to Galway’s rescue a minute later as he produced a good save to deny Ben McCormack a goal.
Barry McHugh opened Galway’s account in the seventh minute from a free, but McCormack replied for Kildare before three unanswered points from the hosts. Tom Flynn, Sean Armstrong and Gary Sice (free) all added scores to give Galway a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Shane Walsh was Galway’s most impressive performer and he produced a wonderful piece of skill to curl over a point in the 30th minute. A further point from marauding wing-back Johnny Heaney in injury time gave the home side a 0-7 to 0-4 lead at the break.
Two points in a row after the half time from Sice and Eamonn Brannigan extended Galway’s advantage, although Kildare then kicked two points in the space of a minute through Eamonn Callaghan and McCormack to trail 0-9 to 0-6 in the 41st minute.
Armstrong and Conroy fisted points after some good build-up to re-establish the home side’s four point cushion. Kildare refused to lie down though as David Hyland and Cathal McNally kept the scoreboard ticking. Walsh and Brannigan kept Kildare at arm’s length before four unanswered points from the visitors set up a tense finish. Dowling and substitute Niall Kelly both kicked two each of that four point haul meaning Galway led by just a point with seven minutes to go.
Shane Walsh drove through the visiting defence in the 64th minute to blast over Galway’s 14th point of the afternoon as Kevin Walsh’s men looked to hang on for victory.
McNally’s point for Kildare in injury time had Galway supporters on edge but the Tribesmen held on to secure the win and ensure promotion for next season.
Galway: R Lavelle; C Sweeney, D Walsh, D Wynne; G O’Donnell, M Farragher, J Heaney (0-1); P Conroy (0-1), F Ó Curraoin; G Sice (0-1, free), S Walsh (0-1), T Flynn (0-1); S Armstrong (0-2), E Brannigan (0-2), B McHugh (0-2, frees).
Subs: M Lundy for Sice (57 mins), I Burke for McHugh (63 mins), L Silke for Farragher (67 mins).
Kildare: S McNamara; M Hyland, L Healy, D Maguire; S Ryan, P Kelly, E Bolton; F Dowling (0-5, 0-1 free), P Connell; E Heavey, C Hartley, C Kavanagh; C McNally (0-2), E Callaghan (0-1), B McCormack (0-2).
Subs: D Hyland (0-1) for Kelly (24 mins, black card), K Cribbin for Bolton (40 mins), N Kelly (0-2) for McCormack (49 mins), P Cribbin for Heavey (52 mins), K Feely for Connell (56 mins, black card), D Slattery for Hartley (63 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).