Galway recover from black card and return to winning ways

Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Eoin McHugh of Donegal during the Allianz Football League match at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Eoin McHugh of Donegal during the Allianz Football League match at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Galway returned to winning ways on Sunday, coming from behind to win in Letterkenny against Donegal.

Trailing by 2-05 to 0-04 in the second half, goals from the two corner backs, Johnny Heaney and Sean Kelly, put Galway back in the driving seat, and unlike the game against Kerry, they were able to hold on for the win. With Shane Walsh continuing to lead from the front as captain, Galway will believe they have what it takes to beat any team in the country.

"It was a massive recovery," said manager Padraig Joyce, "but the boys showed great character and great heart.

"To come to Donegal and get two points is no easy feat, so hats off. I’m proud of the lads and proud to be their manager."

However Joyce was not so happy with the added time at the end of the game.

"Joe McQuillan did his best to get a draw out of the game and gave them every chance. It was surprising he missed that kick in the end, you wouldn’t expect it from him. But again, we had it in Croke Park last night, the injury time. He said five minutes, and then was eight played. All right, there was a fella down, but it wasn’t our fault he was down. Something needs to happen with it to be honest because we saw it last night in Croke Park with Monaghan, and again here today."

Having been dealt a blow with the black card for goalkeeper Conor Gleeson following a wild lunge, Galway gave up two of their substitutes because of the need to bring on Ronan O’Beolain with Finnian O’Laoi being sacrificed for the 10 minutes. O’Beolain’s first call of duty was to pick the ball out of the net having come so close to saving Michael Murphy’s penalty. This could easily have been a disastrous period of the game for the Tribesmen, but a mixture of the poor conditions and composed play kept Galway in the game leading up to half-time.

Damien Comer

The return of Damien Comer to fitness after missing the 2019 season will enhance the county’s prospect for 2020. After missing last year, Comer will be hungry for action, and with himself and Joyce wanting direct free flowing football, it is expected GAA followers across the country will be keen to see Galway play for the rest of the season.

Galway now have four points in a tight league, but one more win should, at the very least, guarantee their safety for next year. However, Joyce will want much more from his troops. His stated aims are to be in action on the last weekend in August - otherwise the year has been a failure - and that will bring added outside pressure.

However, Galway's progression continues in the league with Tyrone up next in Tuam stadium on Sunday February 23. The games will keep coming thick and fast, with old rivals Mayo still to play, in addition to Meath and Dublin. With three of the four games at home, the crowds will be expected to flock to Tuam and Pearse stadiums in the hopes of seeing some thrilling football.

Galway: C Gleeson, S Kelly, S Mulkerrin, J Heaney, G O’Donnell, J Daly, C McDaid, R Steede, C D’Arcy, F O’Laoi, D Comer, M Daly, R Finnerty, S Walsh, M.Boyle.

Subs: O’Beolain for O’Laoi, O’Laoi for Gleeson, Campbell for McDaid, Varley for Steede, Conroy for Laoi.

 

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