Monday 20 August 2018

Tribesmen lay down marker with Tyrone scalp

Galway 1-9 Tyrone 0-8

Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly is held back by Galway’s Gareth Bradshaw as the ball breaks
in Tuam yesterday. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly is held back by Galway’s Gareth Bradshaw as the ball breaks in Tuam yesterday. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

John Fallon

The old dressing-rooms in Tuam Stadium have heard plenty of sounds down through the decades, but there were alarm bells going off in both of them at the end of this tough encounter played in wintry conditions.

Tyrone's latest rebuilding job under Mickey Harte will need a major injection of life if his 16th season in charge is to be a success, while through the thin walls he could probably hear Kevin Walsh warning his men not to lose the run of themselves.

Cathal Sweeney of Galway in action against Peter Harte of Tyrone. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cathal Sweeney of Galway in action against Peter Harte of Tyrone. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

As the year develops, the outcome of this one might not weigh too heavily on Tyrone, but it is the sort of display which could propel Galway a few notches up the ladder.

The Tribesmen, back in the top flight for the first time in seven years, stood up to Tyrone in every facet of the game; their use of the ball was superior, they picked off good scores and they didn't flinch when the going got tough and nasty.

Avenge

No wonder then that Walsh, around much longer as a player and manager with Galway than Harte has been in charge of Tyrone, was keeping a lid on it. They head to Letterkenny next weekend, where Donegal will be looking to avenge last summer's championship exit. Walsh knows the price of their scalp has just increased.

"It is only one match, we are not going to lose the run of ourselves. The big thing for us was that we were competitive on the day," he said.

Peter Cooke of Galway and Hugh Pat McGeary of Tyrone tussle. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Peter Cooke of Galway and Hugh Pat McGeary of Tyrone tussle. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"I know they had a man sent off at a particular time and that can work for you and against you, but it was important we held our shape.

"There are a lot of lads here who hadn't played Division 1 before, so it is a learning curve for us.

"But this is only one seventh of the way through the campaign," added the former double All-Ireland winner.

The likes of Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh, their outstanding U-21 full-back last year, stepped up to the mark on his debut. Beside him Eoghan Kerin typified all that's good in corner-back play, while out the field another relative newcomer Peter Cooke will benefit from this one.

Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Over the weekend Walsh handed the captaincy to Damien Comer and it took the Annaghdown man just 16 seconds to crown the honour when he raced in and drilled home a goal. He looks the sort who will revel in the leadership role, while outside him Shane Walsh oozes class and Eamon Brannigan has a good eye for the posts.

There are not many Tyrone men you could say that about yesterday in the swirling wind and damp conditions.

They struck eight wides with the breeze in the opening half, managed just three points from play all day and took 15 minutes to register a score of any description with the wind. As Harte said afterwards, you don't win much with that sort of form.

It was a day which just went from bad to worse. They never recovered from Comer's early strike, never got back to level terms and never led.

Gareth Bradshaw of Galway in action against Peter Harte of Tyrone. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Gareth Bradshaw of Galway in action against Peter Harte of Tyrone. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

They played with 14 men from the 25th minute when corner-forward Darren McCurry was red-carded and then, to compound matters, they lost Peter Harte and Michael McKernan to black cards in the dying moments when they had used all their subs.

"It was one of those days," said Harte. "We had the breeze, elements at our back.

"Before the game has started, virtually, we were in an uphill battle. It was strange given that we were playing with the breeze. It was very difficult too to get the measure of the breeze. It wasn't helping in scoring for either team.

"Galway seized their chance early on and held on to what they had. You have to give them full credit.

"We played a lot of good football and just our finishing let us down in the first-half. Three scores from 10 attempts, that's not going to win us many games.

"If we were better in that department we probably could have slipped ahead again by half-time," Harte added.

Instead it was Galway who led by 1-3 to 0-3 at the interval, having made much better use of the ball.

Comer followed up his goal with a superb point from the left and then Shane Walsh made it 1-2 to nil after just seven minutes.

It took Tyrone 15 minutes to score their first point, a good effort from the right wing by Tiernan McCann and, after Walsh got a second free for Galway, Harte's men cut the gap to a goal by the break thanks to efforts from Conor McAliskey and Cathal McShane.

Another effort from McAliskey just after the restart suggested a big second-half from Tyrone, but two invaluable points from Brannigan settled the Tribesmen.

Tyrone were relying on frees to cut the gap with Peter Harte hitting a couple and Ronan O'Neill also found the range, but having got the gap back to two they were unable to prevent a big finish from Galway.

Comer took his haul to 1-2 and Walsh, this time with the left foot, pointed a third free to mark their return to the top flight in style.

By then the crowd, frozen and drenched, were heading for their cars as one manager was telling his dressing-room not to panic and across the way another was warning his charges that they still have plenty of work to do.

The league is back!

 

Scorers - Galway: D Comer 1-2, S Walsh 0-4 (3f), E Brannigan 0-2, P Sweeney 0-1

Tyrone: C McAliskey (1f), P Harte (2f) 0-2 each, T McCann, C McShane, M Donnelly, R O'Neill (1f) 0-1 each

Galway - R Lavelle 7; D Kyne 7, S A O Ceallaigh 8, E Kerin 8; S Kelly 7, G Bradshaw 7, C Sweeney 7; P Conroy 7, P Cooke 7; J Heaney 7, A Varley 7, E Brannigan 8; S Walsh 8, D Comer 9, P Sweeney 7. Subs: P Cunningham 6 for Varley (52), T Flynn 6 for P Sweeney (60), J Duane 6 for Kelly (66), G O'Donnell 6 for Brannigan (73), S Armstrong 6 for Walsh (76)

Tyrone - N Morgan 7; M McKernan 7, R McNamee 6, H P McGeary 6; T McCann 7, P Hampsey 6, K McGeary 6; P McNulty 6, M Donnelly 7; C McCann 7, N Sludden 7, P Harte 7; C McAliskey 6, C McShane 7, D McCurry 7. Subs: M Bradley 7 for McNamee (20), R O'Neill 6 for McAliskey (46), D McClure 6 for McNulty (46), R McNabb 6 for K McGeary (51), R Donnelly 6 for C McCann (57), L Brennan 6 for Sludden (68).

Ref - C Brannigan (Down)

Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport