Tribesmen look settled on return to highest ranks
Galway 1-12 Donegal 0-14
Galway are making good their return to Division 1 - but Kevin Walsh isn't getting ahead of things.
The Tribesmen had to dig deep into the reservoir for a win over Donegal in Letterkenny, where Seán Armstrong came off the bench to launch the winning missile.
There was just a minute remaining when Armstrong cut a swathe and, from 35 metres, arrived the match-winning score for the visitors.
Shane Walsh's six points and a first-half goal by Eamonn Brannigan proved pivotal as Galway eventually edged away from the Patrick McBrearty-inspired hosts.
Galway needed the late score by Armstrong to eke out the victory. A week after a defeat of Tyrone, it's two wins from two for last year's Division 2 winners.
"We feel that we're the babies of Division 1," Walsh noted.
"Coming to play Donegal, who have a few years of Division 1 experience, is a big learning curve for us.
"We just have to look at how we played and look at where we can improve going forward."
Donegal briefly led when the magnificent Patrick McBrearty - who boomed over nine points for Declan Bonner's team - arched a beautiful effort over in the 42nd minute, but it was short-lived as Galway soon regained a foothold they fought tooth and nail to keep.
The teams were level three times in the last 20 minutes before, finally, the experienced Armstrong, only just on as a substitute, notched up the match-winner.
Donegal were pipped at the post last Sunday in Killarney, when a brace of late points by Kerry left them empty handed and, considering Dublin at Croke Park is next on their agenda, life doesn't get any easier for a new-look Tir Chonaill.
"Sometimes you have to make your own luck and we're not getting much," said Donegal manager Declan Bonner.
"Last week we were done by a double-bounce and a number of decisions went against us but hopefully down the line things might turn and we might just get a decision."
But for Patrick McBrearty Galway could comfortably have been a speck in Donegal's rearview mirrors.
Patrick McBrearty hit all of Donegal's first six points in the opening 31 minutes, but by that stage Brannigan's goal was proving the decisive factor.
Fifteen minutes in, Declan Kyne made hay with a piece of ingenuity as he picked out Brannigan in space. Brannigan carefully considered his options before neatly firing past Peter Boyle in the Donegal goal.
McBrearty kept Donegal in check, but Shane Walsh was clicking through the gears at the other end. Twice in a minute, Walsh, growing in influence and confidence, struck points and he opened up a four-point lead when he chipped over a free from the floor.
Donegal, though, finished the first half well with Paul Brennan and Stephen McBrearty narrowing the deficit.
Kevin Walsh said: "We should have been up more at half-time and we played well enough to be up more. Being a point down against Donegal heading into the home stretch is a tough place to be, but it's a great experience because you have to dig it out. We had to be a bit more clinical and we were at the end up.
"We could have left the fingernails a bit longer if we had taken a few chances earlier in the game."
Boyle kept Galway at bay early in the second half with a wonderful reaction save from Comer.
Donegal, inevitably through Patrick McBrearty, came back to level and when the Kilcar man converted a 42nd minute free, the hosts were ahead for the first time.
It was short-lived as Walsh brilliantly split the sticks.
Donegal twice drew level, as Ryan McHugh and Ciara McGinley cancelled out efforts from Walsh, before Armstrong stepped up to win the day.
Scorers - Galway: S Walsh 0-6 (4f), D Comer 0-3, E Brannigan 1-0, P Conroy, J Heaney, S Armstrong 0-1 each Donegal: P McBrearty 0-9 (6f), S McBrearty 0-2, P Brennan, R McHugh, C McGinley 0-1 each
Donegal: P Boyle 6; S McMenamin 7, C Ward 6, E Gallagher 6; R McHugh 7, P Brennan 7, T McClenaghan 5; L McLoone 6, H McFadden 7; S McBrearty 7, O Mac Niallais 6, C McGonagle 6; P McBrearty 9, D O'Connor 6, M O'Reilly 5. Subs: E Doherty 5 for McClenaghan (24), N O'Donnell 6 for O'Reilly (h/t), C Thompson 6 for McGonagle (h/t), M McHugh 6 for Doherty (53), C McGinley 6 for S McBrearty (62), K McBrearty 5 for Thompson (70+2, b/c)
Galway: R Lavelle 6; D Kyne 7, S Ó Ceallaigh 5, E Kerin 6; C Sweeney 6, G Bradshaw 6, J Heaney 7; P Conroy 7, P Cooke 6; S Kelly 7, S Walsh 9, E Brannigan 7; P Sweeney 6, D Comer 7, A Varley 5. Subs: P Cunningham 6 for Varley (50), T Flynn 5 for C.Sweeney (60), G O'Donnell 6 for S Sweeney (60), S Armstrong (0-1) 6 for Cooke (63), J Duane 5 for Ó Ceallaigh (65).
Ref- P Hughes (Armagh).