Joyce cuts loose to expose gulf in class
A stronger and fitter Galway eased their way past an experimental Leitrim side showing seven changes from their previous outing in this one-sided clash at a foggy Ballinamore yesterday.
Visiting manager Joe Kernan also took the opportunity to introduce some new faces to his line-up, but the gulf in class and fitness between the Division 1 and Division 4 sides became more pronounced as the game progressed.
Following a slow start, Galway's top scorer Nicky Joyce put his side ahead with a pointed free after eight minutes; that was cancelled out three minutes later by a Ronan Kennedy pointed free for Leitrim.
Joyce and Leitrim's Michael Foley exchanged further points, but two points from play by Joyce in the 22nd and 23rd minutes widened the gap between the sides.
Although Galway enjoyed the majority of possession throughout the game, with Leitrim rarely getting beyond the half-forward line -- due to diligent work by Mark Lydon and Conor Healy at midfield -- the Tribesmen's poor finishing kept Leitrim hopes alive.
A largely forgettable first half was coming to an end with Leitrim just two points in arrears, but Galway's domination finally paid off when Joyce sent a superb strike to the Leitrim net two minutes into stoppage-time to leave the visitors comfortably ahead 1-4 to 0-2 at the break.
A more determined Leitrim started the second half with two points from James Glancy and Colin Clarke in the opening minutes to reduce the arrears.
However, Joe Bergin -- playing at full-forward -- was proving a handful for the home defence and his efforts were rewarded with a 37-minute point from play followed by a further point from play three minutes later by substitute Owen Concannon.
A Conor Maguire point from play in the 43rd minute kept Leitrim in the hunt but when substitute Paddy Kennedy scored Galway's second goal seven minutes from time, the Tribesmen eased into cruise mode. They finished the game with two further points from Matthew Clancy and Joyce to secure a comprehensive victory.
SCORERS -- Galway: N Joyce 1-6 (0-2f), P Kennedy 1-0, J Bergin, M Clancy, O Concannon 0-1 each. Leitrim: C Clarke , M Foley (1f), J Glancy, R Kennedy (1f), C Maguire 0-1 each.
GALWAY -- P Doherty; J Murphy, F Hanley, T O'Neill; T Fahy, G O'Donnell, JP O'Connell; M Lydon, C Healy; N Coleman, C de Paor, P Kennedy; M Martin, J Bergin, N Joyce. Subs: M Clancy for C Healy, O Concannon for M Martin, N Coyne for JP O'Connell, D Meehan for C de Paor, B Cullinane for M Lydon.
LEITRIM -- G Phelan; P Maguire, J McKeon, D Beck; W McKeon, B Prior, J Glancy (St Mary's); S Canning, D Sweeney; C Maguire, C Clarke, M Foley; R Kennedy, J Glancy (Glencar/Manorhamilton), D Gilhooley. Subs: E Lyons for G Phelan, D Reynolds for P Maguire, E Mulligan for E Kennedy, D O'Connor for D Gilhooley, P McGuinness for M Foley.
REF -- M Duffy (Sligo).