The Galway U20 footballers, under the guidance of An Spideál native Dónál Ó Fatharta, retained their Connacht U20 championship title last Saturday in Tuam Stadium with a resounding defeat of an extremely disappointing Roscommon side.
The final scoreline of 4-13 to 0-05 was a fair reflection of how the game panned out as a contest - the Tribesmen never looking in any doubt, despite the game being played in dreadful conditions.
This result has further added to the current buzz around Galway football and this most recent win displayed the next crop of talented youngsters who we will watch develop over the coming months and years.
Roscommon opened the scoring as early as the first minute when midfielder Ciarán Lawless booted a huge point from outside the ’45, albeit with the aid of a strong breeze. Galway responded with 2-1, firstly a free from the deck from talented centre-forward Matthew Tierney got Galway off the mark. Eight minutes later, Galway raised their first green flag as full-forward Tomo Culhane and corner-forward Alan Greene combined with a one-two, which the former finished off with a classy low finish with the inside of his boot past Roscommon goalkeeper Daniel Connolly into the corner of the net.
Culhane was also central to Galway’s next score as he fought for the ball on the ground before releasing the onrushing wing-back Cian Monaghan, who gleefully buried the ball into the net. Roscommon’s impressive centre forward Paul McManus attempted to lead a comeback for his side as he kicked a long-range point from the left wing. Both sides traded two points before the break with Culhane and Tierney on target for Galway, and another McManus stunner coupled with a beauty from Darragh Walsh, kept Roscommon in the game with the scoreline at 2-03 to 0-04.
After the interval, Galway took complete control of proceedings and ran away with the contest, playing with a strong breeze at their backs. Roscommon would only go on to score a solitary point for the remainder of the game, a free from substitute Thomas O’Rourke, in what was an underwhelming performance.
Oughterard’s Ryan Monaghan came to the fore in the second half, producing 1-2 while corner-back Johnathan McGrath chipped in with a fortuitous goal. Eoin Mannion, Tierney, Tony Gill and Alan Greene all raised white flags, but the star of the show in the second half was wing-back Cathal Sweeney from Salthill-Knocknacarra who kicked three monstrous points from distance.
Sweeney was named as man of the match. However it was not his point scoring which impressed the most, it was his direct running and balance on the ball which really caught the eye. Corner-back and captain Jack Glynn also had a strong performance as he went on to lift the cup, a back-to-back Connacht title for himself.
Galway now go on to face Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. The Kingdom overcame the challenge of last year’s All-Ireland champions Cork in the Munster final thanks to a strong second-half performance. Under the stewardship of former Laois manager John Sugrue, it will be a tough challenge, but one which players and management will relish.