Wednesday 20 September 2017

Armstrong's magnificent seven shoots down Stars

Salthill 0-12 Tuam Stars 0-7 GALWAY SFC

Salthill-Knocknacarra's Sean Armstrong fends off David Connern of Tuam in the Galway SFC final
Salthill-Knocknacarra's Sean Armstrong fends off David Connern of Tuam in the Galway SFC final

John Fallon

Galway and Salthill/Knocknacarra captain Finian Hanley paid tribute to his county colleague Sean Armstrong for steering them to victory in very difficult conditions at Pearse Stadium.

Armstrong has had to battle a string of injury problems in the past few years, but he stood tall for his club yesterday to kick seven points, five of them frees, in a performance which defied the wet and greasy conditions.

"It wasn't just the scores he got, he won a huge amount of ball around the middle of the field and laid off some great passes," said Hanley.

"But this is a good team. We worked hard in the opening half and to hold them to five points when they had the wind laid the foundations.

"We knew that if we kept in there and did not panic that the scores would come and, thankfully, they did when it mattered most. It's a great win.

"Huge work has gone in at this club and it is just great to have a day like today," added the full-back, who was outstanding throughout as Salthill nailed their third county senior title.

When they won in 1990 and 2005 they went all the way to the All-Ireland club final, winning it seven years ago, but Hanley said they hadn't given any thought to anything other than trying to win the Galway title.

"We went all the way in 2005, but haven't been able to get back to the final since then. That's how hard it is to win Galway," said Hanley.

Armstrong mastered the difficult conditions and his display was enough to see off a Tuam Stars side who may be the most prolific winners of the title, but who are without a crown now since 1994.

Strong

Salthill pulled away in the closing minutes of a game where the sides were level six times.

Tuam Stars just had no answer as the 2005 All-Ireland champions fired over five points without reply in the closing 10 minutes.

The sides were deadlocked four times in a foul-ridden opening half -- they each got a dozen frees -- and they turned around level at 0-5 apiece.

Shane Curtin gave Tuam, the 25 times county champions, great hope with some excellent points in the opening half but, significantly, they were unable to build a lead with the wind behind them.

Brian Conlon and Tomas Burke hit crucial scores for Salthill/Knocknacarra whose strong support running made a passing game possible.

Wing-back Donal Marley went forward for a Tuam Stars point, but he was the only player other than Curtin to find his range in the opening half.

The Salthill defence was superb in that period with Cian Begley, Hanley and Derek O'Flaherty outstanding as they closed down the Tuam attack.

Former Galway hurler Alan Kerins was narrowly off target with a goal attempt, but Armstrong kept his footing to land a couple of frees.

The sides twice exchanged points in the opening 20 minutes of the second half with Tuam full-forward Shane Gaffney shooting wide from a good goal chance after 36 minutes.

Jamie Murphy blasted the equaliser with 10 minutes remaining when his stinging effort was tipped over the bar by Cormac Connolly.

But then Salthill/Knockncarra took control.

Full-forward Seamie Crowe landed a superb point from the left wing to put them into a lead they never looked like surrendering and Armstrong doubled the advantage with an awesome point from play on the right.

They closed out the game in style, with Armstrong pointing a 45-metre free to put a goal between them before Crowe, a former Wolves soccer player, hit the insurance score in the final minute.

Armstrong, appropriately, put the finishing touches on a fine performance when he soloed through for his seventh point in the closing seconds of the game.

SCORERS -- Salthill/Knocknacarra: S Armstrong 0-7 (5f), S Crowe 0-3 (2f), B Conlon, T Burke 0-1 each. Tuam Stars: S Curtin 0-4 (3f), D Marley, J Murphy, JR Bodkin 0-1 each.

Salthill/Knocknacarra -- C Connolly; C Begley, F Hanley, C Halloran; K Conlon, G Canavan, D O'Flaherty; D Tierney, C Healy; A Kerins, S Armstrong, T Burke; G Cox, S Crowe, B Conlon. Subs: R McTiernan for K Conlon (39), S Gavin for Canavan (52), B Malone for Burke (60), E O'Mahoney for Crowe (60).

Tuam Stars -- J Trayers; D O'Rourke, I McGough, A Tierney; T Costello, G O'Donnell, D Marley; D Connern, P Doherty; S Curtin, C Doherty, N Quinn; J Murphy, N Henry, JR Bodkin. Subs: P Collins for Henry (47), B Devaney for P Doherty (56).

Ref -- B Kinneavy.

Irish Independent

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