Valiant footballers fall short at the finish

Sean Armstrong, Galway, in action against Paudie Kissane, Cork.  Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Sean Armstrong, Galway, in action against Paudie Kissane, Cork. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

With seven or eight minutes to go last Saturday evening in Croke Park, the Galway footballers looked like they were going to ride out their luck and sneak a sensational win over Cork in Round four of the qualifiers.

Alan Mulholland's men had just put in a tremendous 64 minutes of impressive and productive football and led the hot favourites by 0-16 to 0-13.

The clock was ticking, and all around the stadium, Galway supporters were starting to believe that there was going to be another day out this weekend, in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Galway had played really well to that juncture and had produced a very vibrant and exciting display with some very good performances from the likes of Michael Meehan, Seán Armstrong, Seán Denvir, Gary Sice, Paul Conroy, Conor Doherty, Johnny Duane, Donal O’ Neill and the lively Danny Cummins, who was a loss when he had to go off with a hamstring injury in the first half.

However, it would be remiss not to say, that over the duration of the game, Cork had not availed of three or four goal opportunities, and Manus Breathnach deserves immense praise for the way he had kept his goals intact. He had a superb game.

Going into the last fifteen minutes Conor Counihan had run his bench, and with the likes of seriously experienced, and talented players, such as Paddy Kelly, Paudie Kissane, Paul Kerrigan and Donnacha O’ Connor on the field of play, the Rebels had taken over around the middle and had a run on Galway.

There was a huge difference in experience and cuteness on both benches and when the chips were down, the Cork substitutes really turned the screw on Galway, whereas the Galway reinforcements did not have the same impact.

With the renewed energy and direct running from their subs, and Galway starting to tire, eventually the dam burst.

And when big Aidan Walsh flicked a well taken goal to the back of the Galway net, levelling the tie, Cork rattled over a few quick points to close out the game.

There was still time for Michael Meehan to score a stupendous goal from a 21 yard, however the clock was up and Galway were out on a 1-17 to 1-16 score-line.

The Galway panel and team management can be proud of the way they have regrouped from the humiliating defeat to Mayo in May.

Over the past few weeks, they have won three consecutive games in the qualifiers and really put it up to the 2010 All-Ireland champions until they conceded that late goal, which totally changed the dynamic of the game.

At least the barren spell of doing miserably in the qualifiers has been put to bed, and it was good to get back to Croke Park at senior level and blood a few young players who have not played there with the county at senior level.

With a progressive and well thought out individual programme of work for the entire panel for the off season, and for the entire 2013 U-21 panel, Galway should be in a good position to make an impression in Division Two next year and have some aspirations of having a rattle at winning a first provincial title since 2008.

At least there is some hope renewed from their gallant performance last weekend.

GALWAY: Manus Breathnach, Donal O'Neill, Finian Hanley (Cpt ), Johnny Duane, Seán Denvir, Gary O'Donnell, Gary Sice 0-1 Paul Conroy 0-2, Thomas Flynn, John O'Brien, Seán Amrstrong 0-4 (1f ), Conor Doherty 0-1, Michael Martin 0-1, Michael Meehan 1-6 (1-3f ), Danny Cummins 0-1.

Subs used: S Walsh for Cummins (inj ) (24 ), M Farragher for O'Brien (53 ), F O Curraoin for Flynn (55 ), A. Varley for Martin (59 ).

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