Alan Mulholland’s young Galway football team – featuring eight players who won All-Ireland u-21 medals last year against Cavan – tore into the National Football League with gusto, skill, and plenty of belief to register a meritorious 1-15 to 1-11 victory over Derry in Celtic Park last Sunday.
This weekend they will now hope to collect two more points when they host Louth at Pearse Stadium (2.30pm ) in round two. Louth also won last weekend, defeating Westmeath, and they will travel to Salthill well warned of what they can expect.
Galway’s win in Derry has rekindled energy and enthusiasm among Galway supporters. There is considerable goodwill and positivity towards this youthful side and its new management team. Obviously it is early days, nevertheless it was a positive start to the year and one that should breed confidence in the panel.
All the youngsters who won medals under Mulholland’s guidance in 2007 and 2011 have huge respect for him and his management team and they are prepared to buy into his system of play. That respect is mutual. Mulholland was delighted how his players bounced back after conceding a soft goal.
“The biggest positive of the game is how the lads responded when we conceded the goal and also when they brought it to a one-point game near the end. They really tore into things and showed great composure and work-rate to rally and that is fantastic. Our lads never put their heads down, but instead battled to win the hard ball and their attitude was top class. ”
With eight minutes remaining, four well-taken scores from Michael Martin, Cathal Kenny and Nicholas Joyce (two ) clinched the Tribesmen's first league points of 2012.
Galway had laid the groundwork in the first half. Having trailed by 1-3 to 0-3 after Cailean O’Boyle’s fisted a Derry goal after a mix-up between Keith Kelly and Manus Breathnach, the Tribesmen dominated the second quarter, during which they outscored Derry by 1-5 to 0-1.
Through this spell the Derry defence was run ragged with Galway wing backs Gareth Bradshaw and Gary O’Donnell raiding forward to open up gaps, while the pace of the inside line of Cummins, Joyce and Martin caused trouble.
Points from the impressive Michael Martin and Mark Hehir had closed the gap by the time O’Donnell fed Bradshaw to neatly dummy the Derry keeper and slot the ball into an empty net, helping Galway to a 1-8 to 0-4 lead at the break.
In the second half Derry closed the margin to 1-10 to 1-11 and looked like producing a late run, but with Joe Bergin providing an injection of experience from the bench and Gary Sice having a storming second half, it was the visitors who finished stronger and deservedly came home with the spoils.
Galway: M Breathnach; C Forde, F Hanley, K Kelly; G Bradshaw (1-1 ), J Duane, G O’Donnell; T O’Flynn, F Ó Curraoin; J Ryan, P Conroy, M Hehir (0-3, all frees ); M Martin (0-5, 0-2 frees ), N Joyce (0-5, 0-1 free ), D Cummins. Subs, G Sice for Ryan (ht ), J Bergin for Hehir (58 ), C Kenny (0-1 ) for Conroy (58 ).