Galway gives Royals a second-half roasting

This was a period of football success in Galway, contesting three All Ireland finals in four seasons. Meath, too, were confident - this their third All Ireland final in six years, and having beaten Cork in 1999 when they won their ninth title. However, John O'Mahony's Tribesmen prevailed to claim their 13th crown. Interestingly neither county has contested an All Ireland football final since with Kerry and Dublin dominating.

Galway 0-17 Meath 0-8 - Galway Advertiser, September 27, 2001

The royal tiara was unceremoniously removed from Meath by the great Tribesmen of the maroon and white as a scintillating second-half display earned Galway their ninth All Ireland Football Championship crown and their second in four years.

This was a day that will be long cher­ished by Galway football supporters. It was a day when these young players, under John O'Mahony and his selectors Peter Warren and Stephen Joyce, shat­tered the expectations of the much-fan­cied Meath side. Three years ago when Galway defeated Kildare many observers claimed if it had been Meath in the final, Galway would not have won.

So on Sunday Galway answered the critics. Meath had won titles in 1996 when they beat Mayo in a replay, and in 1999. This year they marched triumphantly out of Leinster. Brought to a replay by neighbours Westmeath, they soldiered to an All-Ireland semi-final with Kerry whom they demolished. But on Sunday they were forced to bow to the men from the west.

The second-half display was one of the greatest performances by John O'Mahony's men. With the defeat by Kerry in last year's replay firmly etched in their minds, Galway only wanted suc­cess. The game was there for the taking at half-time with the sides deadlocked, and any of the Galway players could inspire victory. One Galway player did just that. Padraig Joyce picked himself up after a poor first-half performance to produce one of the greatest exhibitions of scoring power witnessed at headquarters in the modem game.

Although Galway's top scorer, Joyce had not been having the best season, and Galway needed the full for­ward to be at his best if they were to keep their title hopes alive. In the opening half he won considerable possession, but noth­ing went right. When he was put through by Joe Bergin for a goal chance 90 sec­onds into the second half, and the ball went over the bar, he could well have put his head down. Instead the Killererin star lifted his game to mastermind a famous victory, scoring nine points in the second half - one more than Meath's total for the game. He kicked over five points from play with both feet to leave Meath shattered.

Given that Joyce was marked by Darren Fay - a player regarded as the best fullback in the land - it makes the performance of the Killererin man all the more comprehen­sive. Padraig Joyce wrote himself into the history books when he became the first player to score 10 times in an All Ireland Senior football final.

Galway has struggled in the opening minutes. John McDermott stamped an early authority over Kevin Walsh. Graham Geraghty caused problems for Gary Fahy, Trevor Giles looked dangerous against Tomas Mannion, and Nigel Crawford appeared to have Michael Donnellan in trouble.

When Geraghty forced Gary Fahy to foul, it allowed Ray Magee to open the scoring. Then Paul Clancy received a warn­ing from referee Michael Collins. However Galway settled and had many heroes.

Richie Fahey closed off the threat of Ollie Murphy, Kieran Fitzgerald surged with confidence. Declan Meehan began to cause all sorts of prob­lems. Sean Og de Paor came forward. Kevin Walsh got more possessio in the centre, and Michael Donnellan got more involved. Tomas Mannion was foraging, while Ja Fallon, Paul Clancy and Joe Bergin, in particular, were more than win­ning their share.

Derek Savage, Padraig Joyce, and Tommie Joyce, after he started roaming, started to cause problems for Meath. It had taken Galway five minutes before they cancelled an early Meath point. Jarlath Fallon was pushed off the ball which broke into a scramble in front of the Meath goal, and Padraig Joyce's touch was deflected out for a 45, which Michael Donnellan pointed.

Meath's John McDermott came forward to take a pass from Graham Geraghty to point, but when Padraig Joyce robbed Mark O'Reilly, it set up Ja Fallon to level.

Galway went in front for the first time 11 minutes into the game when a great move involving Sean Og de Paor, Derek Savage and Padraig Joyce was finished by Joe Bergin. Meath's Nigel Nestor was given his first yellow card for a late challenge on Tomas Mannion as Meath pushed forward to regain the lead with a brace of points from Ollie Murphy and Nigel Crawford.

Galway's first signs of quality play came with three unanswered points. Moycullen's Paul Clancy scored a super point before Bergin burst forward to take a pass from Joyce and soloed through to score an inspirational point. The comeback kid, Tomas Mannion, burst forward and was fouled in front of goal, allowing Padraig Joyce the opportunity to score his first point with a free from his hands, three minutes from the end of the opening half.

Although Ray Magee and Trevor Giles, from a free, came back to level the scores, Galway supporters were buoyed with confidence with the score level at 0-6 apiece.

The second half was just 90 seconds old when Declan Meehan found Joe Bergin, and the Mountbellew/Moylough player released a probing lob into the path of Padraig Joyce whose effort blazed over the bar when a goal was on. Evan Kelly punished a poor Galway clearance with a Meath point to level, but Galway took control. Tommy Joyce, Padraig Joyce, Meehan and Savage all combined in a passing move­ before the latter was fouled which allowed Padraig Joyce to point the free. Fallon, Savage and Michael Donnellan combined to set up Padraig Joyce for his first point from play.

Meath will ponder on the loss of Ollie Murphy early in the second half, their reduction to 14 men when Nigel Nestor received a second yellow, and Trevor Giles' missed penalty. But they have been known to lift their game when a man down. Not this time.

Richie Fahy became the extra man for Galway, and Padraig Joyce, first with a free, and then with a point from play, put Galway four points clear. When de Paor, Fitzgerald and Meehan set up Joyce for another score, the confidence oozing out of the Tribesmen was visible. Although substitute John Cullinane replied with a Meath point 20 minutes into the second half, Meehan and Bergin became providers for Joyce again.

Meath were provided with a lifeline 12 minutes from the end when referee Michael Collins awarded a penalty after John McDermott fell to the ground inside the area. Alan Keane faced Trevor Giles, but amazingly the Meath centre forward blazed the ball badly wide from the penalty spot.

Paul Clancy added a point, and when Donal Curtis fouled Savage, Joyce pointed agin. By the time Declan Meehan burst up field and opted for a point when a goal was there for the taking, Meath supporters were already on their way home.

John O'Mahony introduced a double substitution when Alan Kerins, dropped for the final, and Kieran Comer, captain early in the year, came in for Bergin and Tommy Joyce. Only on the field, Kerins was fouled and Joyce added his 10th point before Galway were crowned the Bank of Ireland All Ireland Senior Football Champions for 2001.

Galway: A Keane, K Fitzgerald, G Fahy, (cpt ), R Fahy, D Meehan, T Mannion, S de Paor, K Walsh, M Donnellan, P Clancy, J Fallon, J Bergin, D Savage, P Joyce (0-10 ), T Joyce. Subs: S O'Domhnaill for Walsh (blood ) A Kerins, J Bergin, K Comer for T Joyce.

Meath: C O'Sullivan; M O'Reilly, D Fay, C Murphy; D Curtis, N Nestor, H Traynor, N Crawford, J McDermott, E Kelly, T Giles (capt ), R Kealy; O Murphy, G Geraghty, R McGee. Subs: P Reynolds for O Murphy, J Cullinane for Kealy, A Kenny for Magee, N Kealy for C Murphy.Referee: M Collins (Cork ).

 

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