One foot in, Galway taken out of league final by Tyrone
Mickey Harte’s Tyrone side score 3-8 in a blistering second half comeback in Omagh
Tyrone’s Cathal McShane in action against Galway’s John Daly during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Healy Park in Omagh. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho
Tyrone 3-15 Galway 1-14
One foot in, one foot out again. After a game that turned upside down and inside out in the course of itself, first Galway, then Tyrone, ended up with nothing beyond the end result. So goes Permutation Sunday.
When Galway went up double scores at half-time, it seemed they’d opened the door to next Sunday’s league final, a win seeing them through no matter what happened elsewhere; when Tyrone turned those scores right back at Galway in the second half it seemed the chance might be theirs – before Mayo’s win over Monaghan elsewhere closed out that deal.
So it all added up to less to than the sum of its parts. Tyrone’s win isn’t without merit, given they trailed Galway by seven points at half-time, before winning by the same margin. After only managing one point out of a possible six in opening three rounds, Mickey Harte – notching up his 200th competitive win after 301 games in charge of Tyrone since 2003 – was suitably pleased.
“Well, we wouldn’t have been in an All-Ireland final, then been as poor as some people were suggesting we were after the first three games,” Harte said of their league season in total. “Even if the points said as much, we always felt we were better than that, and feel very pleased about the last four games.
“I felt at half-time the scoreline didn’t reflect how much we were in the game, and I think we did very well to turn that around in the second half.”
Indeed they did, Tyrone hitting Galway with 3-8 to 0-3 in that second half, two of Galway’s paltry points coming from frees. Two of the Tyrone goals were partly caused by Galway mistakes, certainly when Mattie Donnelly brilliantly kicked a long ball into an empty net from 30 metres out, after a mix up between Galway goalkeeper Ruairí Lavelle and Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, on 47 minutes; minutes before that Peter Harte had converted a Tyrone penalty, Galway’s collapse as sudden as it was unexpected.
“From the first two kick-outs of the second half we conceded two points,” said Galway manager Kevin Walsh, acknowledging the swift decline.
“Overall we can’t be too critical, it’s a bit of a lost opportunity not to make the league final, but that was never really the goal at the start of the season. I suppose when you do give yourself that opportunity it has to be a little disappointing, and some silly mistakes and some discipline caught us at the start of the second half.
“Coming here with something to play for was still a bonus, and there’s loads we can learn off that. It’s not the result the wanted, it was an opportunity for a big final, but then again in six weeks’ time I don’t think there’ll be too many people talking about league finals. I was important we had a good division one, and we’ll look back at this, at the good, the bad and the ugly, and move on.”
Galway’s second half was more ugly that good or bad, Gary O’Donnell sent off on a second yellow in the last 10 minutes, while Eoghan Kerin was already in the bin for a black card. When Conall McCann added Tyrone’s third goal in injury time the Galway collapse was complete.
The Mattie Donnelly-Cathal McShane partnership was again successful, Donnelly finished with 1-4, McShane 0-4, including another mark
“Aye, we knew things had to go our way in Castlebar, and we could only keep up our end of the bargain,” said Donnelly. “We said at half-time that even if we do miss out, let’s give it our all. And I think we showed good composure to see that game out against a very good Galway team. We’ve still a bit to work on, but things are going in the right direction.”
Before a crowd of 5,115, and helped in part by the fresh spring wind in the backs, Galway took off, Shane Walsh acting as pilot for many of those moves, adding three frees in the process. Johnny Heaney and Micheál Daly also made their present felt.
Then on 17 minutes, Antaine Ó Laoí spotted Danny Cummins loitering alone close to the Tyrone net, his floating ball perfectly punched into the net by Cummins, much to the obvious disappointment of Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan.
Worryingly for Tyrone, Galway hit them with six points to one in the last six minutes of that first half – all from play – as if intent on opening as much daylight as possible before the turnaround, and took themselves to double scores, Galway 1-11 to Tyrone’s 0-7. Daly hit another beauty, the ever solid Gareth Bradshaw getting in on the act too.
Galway’s deft kick-passing and pressing on Tyrone kick-outs was also impressive, but the wind was clearly a factor. Into the second half Kieran McGeary also got a grip on Shane Walsh, limiting his influence, Cummins and Daly far less conspicuous too.
Even with the home cheer at the end result, the modern transistor radio that is Twitter had told us that it all amounted to nothing beyond the end result. Which for Tyrone may well prove more lasting.
TYRONE: N Morgan; P Hampsey, R McNamee, HP McGeary; M Cassidy (0-2), B Kennedy, B McDonnell; C Cavanagh, R Donnelly; P Harte (1-3, 1-0 penalty, one free), N Sludden, C Meyler; K McGeary (0-1), C McShane (0-4, two frees, one mark), M Donnelly (1-4).
Subs: K Cooney for Mc Donnell (41 mins), M McKiernan for HP McGeary (45), McCurry (0-1) for Sludden (63), C McCann (1-0) for R Donnolly (68).
GALWAY: R Lavelle; E Kerin, S A Ó Ceallaigh, D Wynne; G O’Donnell, J Daly, G Bradshaw (0-1); T Flynn, C Duggan; F Ó Laoí, S Walsh (0-6, four frees), J Heaney (0-4); D Cummins (1-0), M Daly (0-2), A Ó Laoí (0-1, free).
Subs: C D’Arcy for Duggan (half-time), S Kelly for F F Ó Laoí (45 mins), E Brannigan for Cummins (57), K Molloy for G Bradshaw (65).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).