Monday, August 7, 2017


Galway marched into their third All-Ireland final in six years when they avenged last year's semi-final defeat by Tipperary in a pulsating semi-final at Croke Park.

This was the third successive semi-final clash between the counties; Galway won by a point two years ago while Tipp prevailed by a single point last year.
Remarkably, this time around it was another one point game; Joe Canning scored the winning point from under the Cusack Stand in the fifth minute of injury time.
After an indifferent first half in which he was booked and missed a straight forward free, the Portumna centre forward was immense in the spell-binding second period and finished as the game's top scorer with a personal tally of 0-11, seven of which came in the second half.
While the margin of victory was considerably less than the 16 points between the teams when they clashed in the National League final, when Galway first served notice that they would be serious contenders for All-Ireland honours this season.

This was a far more significant win for the Tribesmen than their league win. They're on the cusp of ending their All-Ireland famine which stretches back to 1988.

But their record in finals – they have lost six since their last triumph – will leave their fans on tender hooks ahead of the September showdown against the winners of next Sunday's second semi-final between Cork and Waterford.

Tipperary's demise - while hardly a shock – their form has been erratic since losing that League final to Galway – reinforces the view that the Premier County struggle when it comes to defending All-Ireland titles.

They last won back-to-back titles in 1964-65. Ironically, this was probably their best performance of the championship but it just fell short on the day.
Two missed 65's from Seamus Callanan in the second half proved costly for the Premier County.
There were no changes in personnel on either side and a minimum of positional switches, though the placing of Galway's Niall Burke at wing forward, where he was marked by Padraic Maher, was a surprise.

Galway showed understandable signs of their five week lay off in the early exchanges and Tipperary dominated racing into a 4-1 lead after eight minutes. The Premier County won their first five puck-outs but once they started to struggle in this department Galway got back into the contest. They hit four points in a row between the 9th and 14th minutes to level the tie, and such was the influence of Conor Whelan that Tipperary switched their corner-backs in an effort to curb his influence.
He ended the half with 0-3 while Conor Cooney scored 0-2, but ultimately, it was the Galway full back line which appeared more vulnerable as the half progressed.

But midway through the half it was Galway who were dominating and even though Joe Canning was anonymous in general play the Tribesmen led 0-8-0-6 after 23 minutes.
Then came the first decisive break in the game which ironically began with a mis-hit from Seamus Callanan, which the Galway defence looked to have control of, but corner-back Adrian Tuohy fumbled the ball under pressure from John McGrath, who held his nerve admirably to score the game's opening and what turned out to be the game's only goal, which was a credit to Galway's defence all day.
Galway were level within a minute with a magnificent sideline cut from under the Hogan Stand by Joe Canning and it was nip and tuck from there until half time. Indeed, the sides were level on six occasions in the first half but Tipp edged it at the break (0-12; 1-10).
A feature of the first half was the performance of Canning. He scored 0-4  but missed a routine free; gave away two frees; was booked and had limited involvement in Galway's attacking play. The other feature of the first half was the failure of Galway captain David Burke to make a significant impact with Brendan Maher shading the duel.
Galway had two goal chances in the opening five minutes of the second half but neither Conor Cooney or Joseph Cooney were able to finish the moves, though the latter's effort did ultimately yield a point from a Canning free.

There was literally never more than a puck of a ball between the sides, though Galway kept their noses ahead thanks in the main to a monster free from Joseph Cooney and Joe Canning's first point from play in the 54th minute.

But Tipp stayed in touch and Galway – who had introduced New York based Jonathan Glynn in the 52nd minute – didn't help their cause when they hit three wides on the spin between the 60th and 63rd minute.

John McGrath tied up the game for the ninth time a second later before another long range point from under the Cusack Stand from the now on fire Canning edged Galway back in front.
But it was level again with four minutes of normal time remaining when John O'Dwyer hit his third point from play after Seamus Callanan had missed a 65.

Canning was now the dominant figure on the field and he converted another monster free in the 67th minute to put his side one clear again.
The game was still in the melting pot as Galway corner forward Conor Whelan got in a timely tackle on Michael Cahill, who was about to shoot for the equaliser, but Brendan Maher calmly slotted the equaliser from a free at midfield to level the tie again.

But inevitably there had a dramatic conclusion; Joe Canning had a free to win win from inside the Galway 45 after full back Daithi Burke made a crucial catch.
It dropped short, and was initially swooped clear by goalkeeper Darren Gleeson, but the subsequent clearance was snapped up by Johnny Coen, who drove forward before passing back to Joe Canning who was on the Cusack Stand sideline before curling over the winning point six seconds over the allotted four minutes of injury time.
A fitting climax to a wonderful game.

After a tough and thrilling semi-final, Galway's tag as favourites for this year's All Ireland title remain on course.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Galway went on a scoring spree to book an All-Ireland quarter-final showdown with Kerry next weekend after stunning Donegal by 4-17 to 0-14 in a surprisingly one-sided encounter at Markievicz Park.

It was a dismal night for Donegal football. They had three players black-carded, missed a penalty and played most of the second-half with 13 men when Michael Murphy and Martin McElhinney picked up black cards with all subs used.

But the game was over as a contest by then as Galway, hoping to bounce back from the shock Connacht final loss to Roscommon,
destroyed a shaky Donegal defence.

Johnny Heaney was the main tormentor for Galway as he fired home 2-2 with both goals coming in the opening half as the Tribesmen blitzed Donegal.
Rory Gallagher's men just had no answer to a powerful performance from Galway, who had the game wrapped up by half-time when they led by 3-9 to 0-7.

The Ulster side played most of the second-half with just 13 men when Michael Murphy and Martin McElhinney picked up black cards when they had all six subs used.

The big breakthrough came for Galway after 16 minutes when Heaney got in for the first of his goals after Sean Armstrong and
the impressive Ian Burke had set him up and he fisted to the net.
Armstrong then pointed a free before the disorganised Donegal defence was again punished when goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley tripped Flynn to concede a penalty.

It got worse for Donegal when referee Anthony Nolan dished out a black card to the goalkeeper while his replacement,
Peter Boyle, stood little chance against Liam Silke's penalty.
That made it 2-6 to 0-5 after 25 minutes and Conroy quickly added a point to turn the screw and by the interval they were out of sight when Heaney got his second goal.

The loss of Murphy and McElhinney meant no way back for Donegal who missed a penalty when Paddy McBreaty's effort was saved by Bernard Power.

And Galway finished in style with Danny Cummins getting their fourth goal in the dying moments of the game.
One of the biggest cheers of the evening though was when Michael Meehan made his long-awaited return to championship football after his lengthy battle with injury.
He looked sharp in a brief cameo role as he tasted this level of football for the first time since 2014.

Galway finished the game with 14 men when full-back Declan Kyne picked up a second yellow card but it mattered little as they eased to victory.
They face Kerry in the quarter-finals on Sunday at Croke Park.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Roscommon upset the odds to hammer Galway by nine points and win the Connacht Senior Football title at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
It was a richly deserved victory for the underdogs who out-fought and out-played Galway all over the pitch.
A lot of the credit for this victory must go to manager Kevin McStay who refused to let the constant criticism aimed his way
from within the county hold back the team’s preparation and he got his tactics spot on on the day.
Backed by a strong breeze, Roscommon dominated the first half from start to finish.

Two points from captain CiarĂ¡n Murtagh and one from his brother Diarmuid had the Rossies three points in front
before Shane Walsh got Galway on the board with a free.
Galway conceded two unnecessary scores when goalkeeper Rory Lavelle’s short kick-out strategy backfired and
 Roscommon won turnovers and forced frees which the Murtagh brothers converted.
A nice point from wing back Conor Devaney helped Kevin McStay’s men into a 0-06 to 0-01 lead after 12 minutes.
Shane Walsh fired over a Galway point in the 14th minute but incredibly it would be their last score until the 35th minute and their only one from play in the whole half.

Roscommon responded to that score in the best possible fashion - they went straight down the other end and rattled the net with a well-worked goal.
Corner forward Cian Connolly collected a beautiful long pass from Diamuid Murtagh and cooly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Roscommon almost shot themselves in the foot in the following fifteen minutes when they hit six wides in a row and failed to extend their advantage in howling wind and rain.
Galway rued a missed goal chance when Michael Daly saw his effort come back off the post.
A Diarmuid Murtagh point put the Rossies seven in front at half time (1-07 to 0-03) and their fans must have been wondering if they had done enough with the wind at their backs.
Galway began the second half with intent and, finally, someone added to Shane Walsh’s only scores when Damien Comer kicked a point.
The key moment of the match came in the 41st minute when, with Galway’s tails up, Roscommon scored their second goal.
Brian Stack collected another wayward Galway kick-out and ran straight at the defence to bury the ball past Lavelle.
To their credit, Galway showed character to hit the next six points as Comer, midfielder Paul Conroy and captain Gary O’Donnell all showed some much-needed leadership.
Roscommon refused to panic however, and a Diarmuid Murtagh free eased their supporters nerves before Cian Connolly stretched their lead back out to five.
Galway failed to register a score in the last 20 minutes as their attacks became increasingly desperate.
Roscommon ran out comfortable winners with Conor Devaney adding to his first-half point with two fine late scores and substitute Donie Smith helped himself to a brace.
Michael Lundy and Damien Comer were sent off for Galway following a late brawl and Roscommon’s Cian Connolly was also dismissed for two yellow card offences.
Nothing could spoil the day for the Roscommon supporters, however,
who poured onto the pitch in their droves at the final whistle to celebrate a first provincial title in seven years.