Tribesmen time goals to perfection to sink Rossies
Galway 2-14 Roscommon 0-15
Galway are getting a feel for the company of winners that they are keeping.
A small but not insignificant development yesterday saw all of last year's provincial winners follow up with success in their province's pre-season tournaments.
If the Tribesmen are to bridge that gap with the top four or five teams then they have to keep the foot to the floor at all levels. What's good for Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone should be good for them too.
They didn't set the world alight and indeed, you could make a case that the timing of their goals allowed them more leeway than they might have deserved to retain their FBD Connacht League title in Kiltoom.
When a promising Roscommon move at one end broke down in the 19th minute the price paid was heavy with Paul Conroy and Sean Armstrong transferring quickly and cleverly to put newcomer Cillian McDaid in for a 1-3 to 0-5 lead. The visitors had been under pressure up to that point, falling behind twice by three points in the opening quarter.
But they were comfortable after that and seemed to put the game beyond doubt when Danny Cummins struck in the 42nd minute for the second goal after Barry McHugh did well to tidy up a rebound off a Thomas Flynn shot.
That left it 2-9 to 0-9 but the visitors were a little ragged after that and required a smart advance from goalkeeper Rory Lavelle to block Niall Daly to preserve a four-point lead in the 61st minute when a goal would really have challenged their authority.
Galway manager Kevin Walsh has been steadily adding depth to his squad and this campaign has helped that process with McDaid and particularly McHugh, new to the scene, making good cases.
Johnny Heaney caught the eye at wing-back and looked more comfortable in the position than he was as a defensive wing-forward last season as he consistently punched holes in the Roscommon cover to finish with three points.
Sean Armstrong had some productive spells too. Back after two years out of the game he set up the first goal and both points either side as Galway took command.
With Fintan O Curraoin, Johnny Duane and a number of Corofin players available when their club interest is over the choices for Walsh should be a lot more plentiful.
"It may not count for anything next week but at the same time it is a bit of momentum," the manager acknowledged. "If the four provincial champions are winning these ones you like to keep winning as much as you can," added Walsh.
"We're not going to get carried away but we always want to develop players, not only on the field but off it as well. The better person you have, the better player you are going to get out of it. We're working really hard at trying to have the camp as good as possible."
Armstrong's return is welcome in that regard. "Sean has a very calm head. Obviously, he has good vision and that can be one of the hardest things in sport to teach, peripheral vision. He has that.
"What Sean has to work on now is his fitness. He has been out of the game for a while at the top level. But he has played his part and that's all we could ask for."
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay is having to oversee quite a transformation in personnel since last year.
Senan Kilbride, Niall Carty and Geoffrey Claffey have all retired, Donie Shine, David Keenan, Sean Purcell and James McDermott, who all featured in last year's championship, have been either released or departed and now, added to that list are last year's full-back Neil Collins and Cathal Cregg, in many ways the attack leader of recent years.
But there'll be comfort in the strength shown by Ultan Harney at full-forward, some of the scores that Donie Smith kicked and the vision of Shane Killoran, despite being taken off at the break. Niall McInerney had a fine match at corner-back too.
Midfield remains a conundrum though. Tadhg O'Rourke and Tomas Corcoran were paired together and Corcoran had his moments while they were vigilant as a team to many breaks. But you always got the sense that O Curraoin had their measure.
Turnovers, McStay conceded, are really hurting them.
"We have had a very decent pre-season. We have seen everybody we want to see. We feel we aren't far off playing a big game. I just said to the lads there that's what is killing us is these turnovers, these critical turnovers. It is almost a sense that they are completely unforced, it is when we are on the ball, obviously.
"Teams are feeding off it, we are giving other teams huge opportunities from a misplaced foot pass over the sideline or end line, that sort of stuff.
"Until we come to grips with it and I feel we will, we have a lot of very good, skilful footballers. Maybe the bit of pressure that was there with Galway and it being a final, we didn't mind the ball like we should have."
They face a tough Division One campaign but that buccaneering spirit that marked their 2016 effort will be hard to replicate. A first-round date with Tyrone in Omagh will leave them in no doubt about that.
"We are expecting to stay and that is where we are at. Leaving the division is not part of the plan, we very much want to stay up but it is not critical."
Scorers - Galway: B McHugh 0-6 (3fs), C McDaid, D Cummins (0-1f) 1-1 each, J Heaney 0-3; G Bradshaw, T Flynn, G O'Donnell 0-1 each. Roscommon: D Smith 0-7 (3fs), C Murtagh 0-2 (1f), C Connolly, F Cregg, K Higgins, C Devaney, N Kilroy (f), S McDermott 0-1 each.
Galway - R Lavelle; L Byrne, D Walsh, D Kyne; G O'Donnell, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; F O Curraoin, M Day; T Flynn, P Conroy, C McDaid; D Cummins, B McHugh, S Armstrong. Subs: P Cooke for O Curraoin (49) BC, D Wynne for McDaid (57), F Hanley for Wynne (64), P Varley for Armstrong (67), C Sweeney for Heaney (74), P Mannion for Day (74).
Roscommon - D O'Malley; N McInerney, T Featherson, S McDermott; R Stack, S Mullolly, J McManus; T Corcoran, T O'Rourke; F Cregg, C Murtagh, S Killoran; C Connolly, U Harney, D Smith. Subs: D Murray for McManus (h-t), C Devaney for Killoran (h-t), E Smith for Cregg (h-t), N Kilroy for Connolly (52), K Higgins for Corcoran (52), N Daly for D Smith (60).
Ref - L Devaney (Mayo).