Hard work against the wind yields rich dividends for Galway
Galway 1-9 Monaghan 0-11
Monaghan have just discovered that while beating Dublin provides a warm, fuzzy feeling, it doesn't last.
And it certainly doesn't impress rivals, as Roscommon and Galway proved in the space of a week. Monaghan's win over Dublin was the big event of the opening weekend, but a fortnight on they find themselves sixth in the table after successive setbacks against Connacht opposition.
They would have expected neither, but, of the two, yesterday's was the more disappointing, not least because it came on home ground in Inniskeen.
The circumstances were also dispiriting, as Monaghan failed to exploit the strong, icy wind which lined up behind them in the second-half. They started it a point ahead (0-5 to 0-4) after coping quite comfortably in a low-key first-half where Galway failed to score for the opening 20 minutes.
Monaghan were three points ahead at that stage and playing with a neatness that would have had their supporters not only anticipating a win, but also a hefty increase on scoring difference.
In fact, Monaghan scored only eight more points (two against the wind, six with it) while Galway scored 1-9 (0-4 with the wind, 1-5 against it).
For reasons that not even Kevin Walsh could explain, Galway played much better against the wind, with the high point of an industrious second-half coming on the hour mark, when Johnny Heaney fired in a goal to give them a 1-9 to 0-7 lead.
They failed to score in the remaining 15 minutes, during which Monaghan's frantic recovery effort yielded four points. They had a late chance to level it up, but Conor McManus missed the target.
So what changed for Galway after an opening 20 minutes when, in addition to some sloppy handling, their shooting was often wayward.
"It's hard to know, we would have had no intention of going as deep as that in the first-half, " said Walsh.
"But Monaghan had the ball in their hands in the first 15 minutes and they had runners all over the place, which dragged our boys back. But after that I think maybe it opened up.
"We would have felt that with the breeze we probably left two goals and a few points behind us in the first-half."
Galway's individual and collective improvement presented Monaghan with problems they never really solved. Shane Walsh drove at them from a variety of angles, John Daly's direct running yielded profit, while Antaine Ó Laoi looked dangerous every time action was directed into his corner.
And when Monaghan were in possession Galway's well-structured defence were difficult to penetrate.
"The intention was to go out in the second half and really go at it and drive on, but Galway started well and got a few good scores. We had our chances, but just didn't take them," observed Farney manager Malachy O'Rourke.
So did Galway, who shot as many wides, but crucially they got the game's only goal, which had a big psychological impact.
It left Monaghan chasing a five-point deficit, a sizeable haul which ultimately proved too much for them.
They had a great goal chance in the 16th minute, but Dessie Ward's powerful shot was deflected out for a '45' by Ruairí Lavelle. Galway had an equally good goal chance before half-time, but defender David Wynne drove wide.
Monaghan's inability to develop any real pattern with the wind was surprising, but in fairness to Galway their work ethic and general support play was excellent.
It was in marked contrast to their second-half against Dublin last weekend and will have greatly encouraged their supporters, especially as the squad is seriously depleted by injury and Corofin's All-Ireland club commitments.
"We would have felt that for 55 minutes last week (against Dublin) we didn't perform that badly, but then Dublin went three or four points up and, as they do, sat back and hit on the counter. We probably didn't have the experience to deal with that," said Walsh.
They obviously learned some lessons, although yesterday's task was made easier by Monaghan's slow build-ups in the second half.
Route One might have yielded more than trying to unpick Galway's defensive code around the '45'. The more often Galway resisted the onslaught, the more confident they became, whereas Monaghan's growing anxiety lowered their precision levels at crucial stages.
"We felt at half-time that we had got ourselves in a good position and we were disappointed in the second half that we didn't push on," said O'Rourke.
Just how important this win was for Galway remains to be seen, but it certainly left them in upbeat mood for the long journey home.
"We have tough assignments ahead like everybody else has," reflected Walsh. "We also have to manage people, try to get a few debuts in there - colleges, clubs... that all has to be managed too.
"And obviously the injuries, you don't want to rush players back too quickly either. Four out of six (points), you'd take it."
Scorers - Galway: S Walsh 0-5 (3f), J Heaney 1-0, J Duane, A Ó Laoi, P Cunningham, M Daly 0-1 each.
Monaghan: C McManus 0-4 (3f), J McCarron (2f), D Hughes, R Beggan (2f) 0-2 each V Corey 0-1.
Galway - R Lavelle 7; E Kerin 7, S Kelly 7, D Wynne 6; G O'Donnell 6, J Duane 6, G Bradshaw 7; T Flynn 7, C Duggan 6; J Heaney 7, J Daly 7, P Cooke 7; S Walsh 8, P Cunningham 6, A O Laoi 7. Subs: D Cummins 6 for Cunningham (56), M Daly 7 for Cooke (56), B McHugh 6 for Duane (60), C Darcy for O Laoi (74).
Monaghan: R Beggan 7; K Duffy 6, D Wylie 7, R Wylie 7; D Ward 7, B Kerr 6, C Walshe 6; D Hughes 7, N McAdam 6; R McAnespie 6, D Malone 7, F Kelly (inj 8th); S Carey 6, J McCarron 6, C McManus 7. Subs: V Corey 6 for Kelly (8), C McCarthy 6 for McCarron (46), D Mone 6 for McAdam (52), O Duffy 6 for McAnespie (56), D Garland 6 for K Duffy (62).
Ref - C Reilly (Meath)
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