Goals needed and they came

 

A content air in the Galway changing room. John O'Mahony considers his team's first successful championship defence with a tentative expression.

"Well, we didn't play well in the first half. Goals made the difference at the end of the day, we got them at crucial stages. We got the penalty just at half time and then when Roscommon had come back, we got another so that was the difference for us.

"The first round is never easy and we won but we didn't play particularly well. And I would say that performance wouldn't be good enough in Castlebar."

O'Mahony allowed, however, that his boys could still kick a bit of football.

"We had a good preparation and I had a good feeling about it but until you hit the pitch you just don't know. I was worried, certainly, coming into it, you always are.

"Again, through the first half it was nip and tuck."

That it was Alan Kerins who led the scoring rush must have pleased him, given the Clarinbridge star's recent tribulations.

"Yeah, well I was delighted to see that Alan is back in the hurling panel. But Alan made a huge contribution to last year's All-Ireland and he did the business again when he went in there today.

"But the one thing that gave me a good feeling about today was there was a whole lot of lads at the top of their form who didn't eventually make the starting 15. I felt there was eight or nine guys who might have gone in there and it wouldn't have affected the overall balance of the team and it proved to be the case when the four lads came on.

"And we have a few injury worries now. Derek's is the more serious with a hamstring injury and at this stage, it looks as if he will miss the Mayo match. Alan Keane was very tight but he held up."

Across, the way, John Tobin tries to smile away the loss.

"I thought we competed well for 30 minutes but didn't fully use our possession. But the penalty was a real killer for us. Now, when they came out, well at times they upped their performance. When they get the ball, they keep control of it and they can hit patches of sheer magic. I suppose it's experience: they've been in four All-Irelands and won two of them."

But Tobin knew this was going to be an unforgiving opening day and is anxious that his team learns from it.

"We came back into the game and got a goal and I though at that stage a resurrection was about to happen but then Galway got the ball, controlled the game and killed it.

"Our inexperience showed and they will learn from this. But when Galway move with purpose they are, at times, absolutely superb and you would really have to admire them."

Roscommon's best shot was probably to disrupt Galway and for a time that appeared to be working.

"We put a lot of emphasis on pressurising them and closing them up at the back. But then there comes a time when you are four or five points adrift that you have to push forward and then you leave the holes at the back. That is what happened in the second half.

"But as I said, they are young and inexperienced and it is time for us just to regroup and maybe treat the next round as the first round of the championship."

And who knows, maybe they will get another tilt at the maroon along the way.