Galway’s impressive second half showing seals Connacht title

GAA Connacht Football Senior Championship Final 2018

Dr.Hyde Park, Roscommon

Roscommon 2-06 Galway 0-16

After trailing by a goal at half-time, Galway produced a much improved second half performance to secure this years Connacht title, and perhaps more crucially, became the first team to secure a coveted spot in the new Super 8 format.

A swirling wind and misting drizzle sprayed down on the gathering crowd, under a grey sky that seemed to drape over the town of Roscommon in the lead up to the throw-in.

Galway’s last outing in Pearse stadium was played in sweltering Salthill sunshine against an opponent who gave them plenty of space and time to pick off their scores at will. This Roscommon side was always going to be a different proposition. 

Roscommon, despite playing into the breeze, started with more hunger and better accuracy in their passing, however wayward shooting prevented them being further than a gaol ahead at the end of the opening half. 

Ciaráin Murtagh emerges with the ball, from under the legs of Galway’s Thomas Flynn during the first half of the Connacht Final

Diarmuid Murtagh kicked a sweetly struck curling effort over the bar for the games opening point. His brother Ciaran put Roscommon back in front after Shane Walsh had got Galway off the mark with a fine effort struck on the run from 45 yards out. Diarmuid Murtagh again and Donnie Smith increased the lead to 0-4 0-1 after twenty minutes. Indeed, they could have been further ahead at this stage,  only for lack of accuracy in their shooting threatening to become their Achilles heel. 

Diarmuid Murtagh lands the first score of the day

Shane Walsh was Galway’s main threat, and a clipped point from the left hand side brought the lead back to two points. Roscommon then surged ahead with a goal from Ciaráin Murtagh, who cut in field to fire  a low drive past Ruairí Lavelle in the Galway goal. Roscommon’s work rate from support runners off the ball, was an impressive feature during the first half, while Galway seemed to be playing below their usual standards.

Cathal Compton and Tadhg O’Rourke were winning the midfield battle, and Galway’s kick-out strategy was under pressure. Lavelle saw two of his kickouts sail over the sideline as he looked to avoid the central areas of the pitch. However an apparent shoulder injury to Compton cut his day short on the half-hour mark. Points from Ian Burke and Shane Walsh, either side of Compton’s substitution, offered Galway some hope for the second half. The sides entered the dressing rooms on a score of Roscommon 1-5 Galway 0-5.

Tomas Flynn made a fine catch from the kick out that followed a pointed Diarmuid Murtagh free at the start of the second half. This seemed to be the spur that lifted the whole team and Galway scored six points unanswered. Five of those came from Shane Walsh (two from play and three frees), while Sean Kelly landed his first of the game. During this spell Roscommon had chances of their own, but hit five wides and dropped another two shots into the grateful arms of Lavelle in the Galway goal.

Thomas Flynn pulls down Diarmuid Murtagh, the resulting penalty was rifled to the net by Conor Devaney

Roscommon got a route back into the game after Diarmuid Murtagh was dragged down by Tomas Flynn and Conor Devaney rifled the ball to the net to put Roscommon back ahead by the barest of margins, 2-6 0-11.

However this would prove to be Roscommon’s last score of the game as Galway eased away from them with five unanswered points. Firstly substitute Sean Armstrong level it up. Then Galway captain Damier Comer, who had been well shackled up to that stage by Niall McInerney, cut loose with a well taken brace of points. Adrian Varley and Ian Burke added late gloss to the scoreline. At full time the score was Roscommon 2-6 Galway 0-16 

As Roscommon fans headed towards the exits and Galway fans headed for the pitch, It was left  to Galway’s captain Damien Comer to climb the steps of the main stand and claim the Nestor Cup.

Roscommon

  1. Colm Lavin (Éire Óg)
  2. David Murray (Pádraid Pearses)
  3. Peter Domican (St. Brigids)
  4. Niall McInerney (St.Brigids)
  5. John McManus (Roscommon Gaels)
  6. Fintan Cregg (Elphin)
  7. Brian Stack (St. Brigids)
  8. Cathal Compton (Strokestown)
  9. Tadgh O’Rourke (Tulsk)
  10. Ciaráin Murtagh (St. Faithleachs) 1-0
  11. Enda Smith (Boyle)
  12. Conor Devaney (Kilbride) 1-0 pen
  13. Donal Smith (Boyle) 0-1
  14. Diarmuid Murtagh (St. Faithleachs) 0-5 (0-2f)
  15. Niall Killroy (Fuerty)

Subs used:

17. Cathal Cregg (Western Gales), 18. Conor Daly (Padraig Pearses) 20. Finbar Cregg (Western Gales), 23. Ronan Stack (St. Brigids), 26. Ultan Harney (Clann na nGeal).

Galway

  1. Ruairí Lavelle (Bóthar na Trá)
  2. Declan Kyne (An Fhairce)
  3. Seán Andy O’Ceallaigh (Naomh Ánna, Leitir mór)
  4. David Wynne (Maigh Cuilinn)
  5. Cathal Sweeney (Cill Ainnin)
  6. Gareth Bradshaw (Maigh Cuilinn)
  7. Johnny Heaney (Cill Ainnin)
  8. Paul Conroy (Naomh Séamus)
  9. Thomas Flynn (Baile Átha’n Rí)
  10. Eamonn Brannigan (Naomh Micheál)
  11. Barry McHugh (An Creagán/Magh Locha)
  12. Séan Kelly (Maigh Cuilinn) 0-1
  13. Ian Burke (Corafinne) 0-3
  14. Damien Comer (Anach Cuain) 0-2
  15. Shane Walsh (Cill Chiorín/Cluain Bheirne) 0-8 (0-5f)

Subs used:

17. Sean Armstrong (Bóthar Ná Trá) 0-1, 19. Peter Cooke (Maigh Cuilinn), 22. Ciarán Duggan (Anach Cuain), 23. Eoghan Kerin (Anach Cuain), 24. Gary O’Donnell (Realta Thuama), 26. Adrian Varley (Seamróige Cortúin) 0-1.

Referee: David Coldrick (An Mhí)

Shane Walsh, Ian Burke and Eoghan Keirn celebrate with the Nestor Cup

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