Sean Mulroy scoring a point to put Louth in the lead in the last minute of the game against Cork. [Inpho/Ryan Byrne]

Galway dig deep vs. Monaghan as Louth recall '57 final vs. Cork

Galway 0-14; Monaghan 0-11

Galway Manger Padraic Joyce was a relieved man in the dank dirty day that last Saturday threw up to emerge victorious against a gritty Monaghan side at Pearse Stadium.

He can thank his veteran midfielder Paul Conroy for putting in a tour de force performance which saw him kick three great points on a day when scores for both sides were at a premium.

The other bit of sunshine in this damp day for the Galway boss was the return to action as a sub of  talisman Damien Comer who showed up well to also score a vital point. However there was a cloud on proceedings too when his other start forward Shane Walsh was forced off injured and he must be considered doubtful for the big clash of the weekend against Dublin in Croke Park.

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Galway have become more savvy over the past year and there is no doubt other players have stepped up to the mark but they will enter this quarter-final tie as rank outsiders against Dessie Farrell’s men.

Monaghan died with their boots on and while it has been an up and down season, they have potential and the only big worry will be whether, as seems pretty inevitable, 36-year-old Conor McManus decides to hang up his intercounty boots at this stage.

Monaghan played against the wind in the first half  and were only a point behind 0-6 to 0-5 at the blast of the short whistle. In that moiety, Galway had been out of sorts and it took them two minutes shy of a quarter hour to find the range with a free from Walsh to level the Farney score from Jack McCarron.

Galway's Sean Kelly is challenged by Gary Mahon of Monaghan at Pearse Stadium on Saturday. [Inpho/Natashan Barton]

There was little for the 7,000 crowd to enthuse about from the maroons particularly when Walsh limped off  until early in the second half. Joyce was forced to throw Comer into the fray and this drew the biggest cheer of the day and Conroy added a point to put his side ahead shortly after his arrival.

With Galway leading by two points, Barry McBennett was on the end of a great Monaghan move but his shot came back off the crossbar when a goal seemed inevitable. This would have given the visitors the lead and who knows what might have happened thereafter but instead Galway converted two free by RobFinnerty to edge four clear. 

When Comer made it 0-13  to 0-8, they looked home and hosed but McManus showed his class by converting two difficult frees to leave a goal margin between the side, enough on the day for Galway to go through.

Louth 1-9; Cork 1-8

It was a mere 67 years since Louth had beaten Cork in the championship and that game happened to be the 1957 All Ireland final, which finished 1-9 to 1-7!

On Sunday, even though home advantage for the Wee County was across the border in Inniskeen in County Monaghan, for virtually all the Louth support in the packed ground of 6,000 it must have felt like an All Ireland victory when skipper Sam Mulroy slotted over the winning score to send his side into their first All Ireland quarter-final of the modern era.

It had looked like both these Div. 2 outfits were headed for extra time when the excellent Craig Lennon went down the field like an express train to be halted by Cork’s Matty Taylor who was adjudged to have fouled him in the process.

With an expectant hush descending over the ground, Mulroy showed nerves of steel to put the ball over from 35 yards out on the left, the side favoring a right-footed kick to the delight of the massive home crowd who invaded the pitch as if Sam Maguire was about to be presented.

For their efforts in the sweltering heat, the Wee men have drawn Donegal in Croke Park -  a big ask for Ger Brennan’s side but when you remember that Cork beat Jim McGuinness’s outfit, it is not outside the bounds of possibility that Louth could force another upset before departing these championships.

A jubilant Mulroy said afterwards: "It's just unbelievable. It may seem like nothing to other people but from where Louth have come from to be in a quarter-final now is absolutely massive.

"We're heading back up to Croke Park and I'm just so proud of everyone involved. Yeah look it's been built over the last number of years, back when this crop of players came through.

"It has been a building process and obviously we had Ger come in this year and he's been a massive, massive help to us. We’ve strides this year again and that's what that's all we can ask for.

"We were a bit static in our attack today and Cork had a breakaway goal and left us in a bit of trouble. But I knew that we'd get scores on the board and I knew the time would come and we have the players to make big plays happen. We did that."

Speaking of his match-winning score he explained: "It’s one that you just go back to your routine and you try your best to stick to your process and forget about everything. It's funny some days they go over, some days they don't. In the first round of the league, I had a free to level a match and I missed.

"You're a villain back then. You can't get too high with the highs and lows so I suppose a kick like that is just a kick for me to stick to my routine and try to make sure I hit it sweetly. Thankfully I did."