It was good to see the Galway footballers fight back from a bad position in the first half in Pearse Park, Longford, last Sunday and claim a crucial two points against Monaghan.
Alan Mulholland’s charges were flattered to win by 1-14 to 0-12, but they have given themselves a chance of a league final date with Tyrone at Croke Park and promotion to division one if they can beat an improving Kildare on Sunday week.
Galway started against Monaghan without the free-scoring Nicky Joyce, who had missed a training session last Friday without a valid reason. However with Paul Conroy in inspirational form at full forward, and Padraig Joyce and Greg Higgins doing well on their introductions, the side came good in the last quarter.
Galway were in big trouble around the middle until Higgins came on, and his muscle and power, alongside Joe Bergin and Tom Flynn, ensured they started getting reasonable possession. No better player than Padraig Joyce to use good it, and the Killererin man set up some fine scores with pin-point accurate passes, while also notching 0-3.
However it was Paul Conroy who did most to grab a victory for the team. Monaghan were five to the good (0-8 to 0-3 ), and Galway had not scored for more than 20 minutes when Conroy kicked three terrific points on the spin to give Galway a fighting chance in the second half.
Monaghan should have been further ahead at half time, but they kicked eight wides in that 35 minutes. They had been on top for most of that half, but they had not made it pay.
Conroy also struck two wonderful scores in the last few minutes when the sides were level at 0-12 each. The icing on the victory was supplied by Danny Cummins after a good move involving Michael Boyle and Gary O’Donnell when he raised a green flag in injury time.
Regardless of what happens against Kildare, the primary objective from the league (consolidation in division two ) has been achieved with a game in hand, which is pleasing.
Team manager Alan Mulholland was delighted with his side’s triumph.
"It was looking fairly pear-shaped when we were five down in the first half, but we changed it around at half time and the changes improved things. We were getting outmuscled in midfield, but Greg Higgins came in and did well and, by playing three in there, we got more possession. We minded the ball a lot better in the second-half and that was a big positive. It is great to have a player of Padraig’s ability and experience to come in too."
Mulholland was also pleased with the contribution of Paul Conroy who was his minor captain back in 2007 when the team won the Irish Press Cup.
“Paul hit some crucial scores for us and showed great composure in possession. He is going very well and he was very impressive again last weekend. However, the main thing is that we won and that we are in with a chance of getting to a league final now if we win our next game. It is a great position to be in and it is nice to be clear of any fear of relegation with a game in hand. There is no pressure on us now and we can really give it a lash against Kildare.”
Despite being dropped from the panel for the game against Monaghan, Nicky Joyce is expected to be back in the squad to face Kildare.
Joyce has produced some terrific performances in the league this year, most notably against Derry and Meath, but he was poor against Westmeath and was substituted at half-time.
"Nicky missed training without a valid reason last week,” said Mulholland, “ and was left out of the squad for last Sunday as a result. However he was back training with us on Tuesday night and we have moved on."
Galway: A Faherty, K McGrath, F Hanley (Cpt ), C Forde, G Bradshaw, J Duane, G O’Donnell (0-1 ), T Flynn, J Bergin, G Sice (0-1 ), D Burke, M Hehir (0-2 2fs ), M Martin (0-1 ), P Conroy 0-6 (2f ), C Bane. Subs: G Higgins for Bane (36 ), D Cummins (1-0 ) for Martin (36 ), P Joyce 0-3 (2f ) for Burke (43 ), M Boyle for Hehir (52 ), N Coleman for Flynn (67 ).