Conroy introduction steers Galway to victory as Meath relegated

Galway made it four wins from five league games with an unconvincing performance against the now relegated Meath team in Sunday's Allianz Football League's clash in Navan.

It finished 1-12 to 1-14 in favour of the Tribesmen, who now top division one with eight points, ahead of Kerry on seven.

Galway had trailed 1-6 to 0-1 after 30 minutes, and although against a gale force wind, they had looked void of any ideas on how to break down a mass Meath defence. However three late Shane Walsh frees and a score from play by Éamonn Brannigan saved Galway from an eight-point deficit at the break.

The early introduction of former captain Paul Conroy proved to be a master stroke as he was by far the best and most influential player on the field. Scoring three points from play and one more from a mark, he almost singlehandedly dragged Galway back from what looked like a certain second defeat on the road this season. Midfielder Ronan Steede is starting to have influence in these games, and he scored a super goal early in the second half to bring his side right back into the game. This was soon followed by another of his trademark looping scores from the '45 mark.

Meath knew a defeat in this game would spell relegation, and they played some of their finest football of the season. Whether it was a result of some fine attacking play or poor Tribesmen defending, Meath looked certain to get a shot off every time they attacked.

Galway manager Padraic Joyce will certainly not be happy with that first-half performance - his side were lucky enough to come out with the victory, and looked lethargic as a unit right throughout the game. Kickouts have continued to be a thorn in this Galway side as any attempt at a short kickout appears to be sloppy and panicky. Having given away plenty of scores in both this game and the Tyrone game, this area looks like it needs much work. After declaring that he wants to play attacking football like standard-bearers Corofin, one must wonder when we are going to see Bernard Power in goal. Gleeson certainly had all the attributes and qualities to be a top-class player, but the kickouts do need work.

On a more positive note, Galway remain top of the division one table with two games remaining. This side also gave another battling performance showing great fight and will to win by coming from eight points down to win the match. Home games against both Mayo and All-Ireland champions Dublin remain.

The introduction of Darragh Silke late in the second half shows just how much belief the current management team has in the crop of players they worked with at U20 level last year. Silke is the sixth player from that team to play in this year's league. Sean Mulkerrin, Conor Campbell, Liam Costello, Matthew Tierney and Matthias Barrett have all played so far, while Liam Boyle and Pádraic Costello were both on the bench against Meath.

The recent performances of Paul Conroy show a man who is determined to fight his way back into this Galway side, and coming after his horrific injury, shows just how much his county means to him. It says a lot that Galway's most unimpressive performance of the year still leaves them on the verge of another league final.

Galway : C Gleeson, S Kelly, S Mulkerrin, J Heaney, L Silke, J Daly, G O’Donnell, R Steede, T Flynn, E Brannigan, C Darcy, M Daly, M Farragher, S Walsh, A Varley. Subs: P Conroy for Farragher, G Bradshaw for O’Donnell, R Finnerty for Varley, D Silke for Daly, M Barrett for Steede.


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