Galway's Ciaran Duggan and Michael Darragh Macauley of Dublin.
By P.J. Cunningham
Galway 0-13; Dublin 0-13
Now we know for sure that Galway are no flash in the pan this year following this sharing of the spoils with All Ireland champions, Dublin in Salthill on Sunday.
What we have still to find out is if they are genuine Sam Maguire contenders and we will know a lot more about that after the same two teams contest the National League Final in Croke Park in two weeks time.
There is no doubt that the ‘new Galway’ which plays a strong defensive game and a counter-running style posed several problems for Dublin - something the visiting manager Jim Gavin conceded afterwards. “Galway set up much more defensively this year and it took us a while to work them out,” he said.
It looked as if Dublin did it just in time as they came from five points down at half-time to hit the front deep into injury time. However a smashing score by Johnny Heaney off his weaker left foot from 35 yards against the wind sent the Galway fans home happy that they have a team who will compete to the final whistle again.
The point gained by Dublin means both these sides are now three points ahead of the nearest challenger, Monaghan, with one game to go and so automatially qualify for the final in Croke Park.
There was an underucrrent right through the game and it even spilled onto the sideline when former Dub Jason Sherlock became involved in a pushing and shoving bout between two players.
There was plenty of late drama too as Dub sub Eoghan O’Gara was sent off late on via a straight red card. It looked then that two late frees by Cormac Costello would steal the points for the Dubs but Galway’s comeback was commendable.
Dublin lined out with Evan Comerford in goal in place of Stephen Cluxton – the first time in almost two years the skipper didn’t play in a top class match.
Galway won the toss and elected to play with the strong wind but it was the Dublin who went two points in front through Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock.
Galway players put in a huge shift in this opening period to deny the visitors time and space and then began to turn over possession and use it to build a lead by the interval.
Barry McHugh’s brace of frees settled the home challenge and with 10 minutes to the short whistle, the maroons had build a substantial 0-8 to 0-3 lead. They maintained that deferential 0-10 to 0-5 at the break but the feeling was the elements would help the Dubs power on to victory on the turn over.
The same pairing of Kilkenny – Dublin’s best player – and Rock reduced arrears but there was a blow for Gavin when the latter was black carded for a pull down 11 minutes into the second half.
Dublin have got over bigger problems before and when Jonny Cooper struck for another point, it was quickly augmented by Paddy Small’s to cut the home lead to the minimum.
Galway captain Damien Comer landed an inspirational point before sub Heaney made his presence felt immediately on introduction with a great score to give the Tribesmen a 0-12 to 0-9 lead.
Dublin then kicked four outstanding scores to steal the lead before Keaney popped up again to earn a share of the spoils.
Galway: R Ó Beoláin; D Wynne, S Ó Cellaigh, E Kerin; GO’Donnell (0-2), J Duane, C Sweeney; T Flynn, C Duggan; P Cooke (0-2), P Conroy, S Walsh (0-1); A Varley (0-1), S Armstrong, B McHugh (0-5, 0-3,f, 0-1 ’45) Subs: E Brannigan for Varley (41), D Comer (0-1) for Walsh (46), J Heaney (0-1) for Cooke (50), S Kelly for Armstrong (57), D Kyne for Ó Ceallaigh (76, black card).
Dublin: E Comerford; M Fitzsimons, P McMahon, D Byrne; E Lowndes, J Small, J Cooper (0-1); MD MacAuley, J McCarthy; C Reddin, C Kilkenny (0-5), P Andrews (0-1); C Basquel, DRock (0-2f), P Small (0-1f) Subs: B Fenton for Lowndes (half time), C Costello (0-2f) for Rock (48, black card), C McHugh (0-I,f) for Reddin (50), E Ó Conghaile for MacAuley (59), E O’Gara for P Small (63), A McGowan for J Small (67).
Ref: J McQuillan (Cavan).
Tyrone safe after 12-point win in Mayo
Tyrone 2-14; Mayo 0-8
Those pundits who have written off Tyrone after last year’s annihilation by Dublin in the All Ireland quarter-finals should think again following this display of top class football whih ran Mayo ragged in Castlebar on Sunday.
Lee Brennan and Conall McCann shot the second half goals which ended the game as a contest but it was the slick play and ability to shoot points from distance that marked the quality of Mickey Harte’s team.
Over 10,000 people were drawn to MacHale Park for this joust between two old enemies and the win means Tyrone have secured their Division One status for next term while Mayo must now travel to Ballyshannon next Sunday and either win or draw to stay up.
They will do so too without their class forward Cillian O’Connor who pulled his hamstring and had to go off early in this game while former footballer of the year, Lee Keegan, also had to leave the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury. Mayo also lost Andy Moran to a black card for verbal abuse to the ref while Colm Boyle got his marching orders after seeing yellow twice from Maurice Deegan.
Tyrone midfielder Pádraig McNulty was shown a straight red card by Deegan for the challenge which saw Keegan helped off.
The Red Hand ruled right through this game and the biggest surprise was the lack of competitiveness from the hosts right across the pitch.
Maybe Mayo’s bad luck all came together in this game because even when they had a chance to score a goal from the penalty spot, Conor Loftus shot well wide, though he was one of his side’s better performers with five points to his credit on the day.
Mayo: D Clarke; C Crowe, G Cafferkey, E O’Donoghue; C Boyle, L Keegan, S Coen; A O’Shea, T Parsons (0-1); D O’Connor, J Doherty, A Gallagher; K McLoughlin, C O’Connor, A Moran Subs: C Loftus (0-5, 0-3fs) for C O’Connor (inj); P Durcan for Keegan (inj); S O’Shea for Moran (black card); F Boland (0-1) for Doherty; N Douglas (0-1) for D O’Connor; C O’Shea for A O’Shea.
Tyrone: M O’Neill; HP McGeary, P Hampsey, C McCarron; C Meyler (0-1), F Burns (0-1), P Harte; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; M Donnelly (0-4), N Sludden (0-1), C McShane; L Brennan (1-3, 0-2fs), C McAliskey (0-3f), M Bradley Subs: M McKernan for HP McGeary (inj); D McClure (0-1) for Cavanagh (black card); D Mulgrew for Bradley; C McCann (1-0) for McAliskey; R Brennan for McCarron.
Ref: M Deegan (Laois)
Farney boys on a high
Monaghan 1-16; Donegal 1-10
Monaghan may be one of the smallest counties from the points of view of population with 61,000 but it has continued to punch way above its weight by winning Ulster titles and staying in Division One since Malachy O’Rourke took over.
Leading by a point 0-9 to 1-5 at the break at Clones on Sunday, Monaghan hit the ground running on the resumption with Ryan Wylie scoring a goal within a minute to settle the home fans. This was followed by further scores from the marauding Kieran Hughes while Karl O’Connell also raised a white flag to give his side a platform on which to build ultimate victory.
Carlow historic rise from the ashes
Carlow 1-12; Antrim 0-12
On a day when many matches were postponed due to the weather, Carlow had what star midfielder Brrendan Murphy called “their own All Ireland win” as they travelled to Corrigan Park, Belfast and beat Antrim by three points.
That result means they have 12 points from six games and have been promoted from Division 4 for the first time since the early eighties.
It is a great boost for Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien, who has been the driving force behind the team which played five championship games last year and ran both Dublin and Monaghan close in their encounters.