Galway now have a month to prepare themselves for the visit of Mayo to Pearce Stadium in the Connacht semi-final on June 14 following their win in Carrick-on Shannon on Sunday. The month off is something that Galway manager Kevin Walsh is looking forward to after a hectic Spring schedule, he explained after the his sides eight point win. “The most important thing was to get out of here today. I’ve been involved in panels in the past that really struggled to get out of here, but the build up to today with New York and five league games in a row, it’ll be great to get a week off for the lads.”
As for where his side stands at the moment this is the first time he’ll be properly able to assess it he explained. “We’ll sit back and assess where we are, it’s probably the first time since the middle of the league that we’ve been able to do that, the players are back to the clubs (next weekend ) so it will give us a bit of time” he said before going on to say: “(We’re ) still trying to find a certain amount, outside the dressing room people will probably say New York and Leitrim, but all those challenges take time and preparation.”
Galway cantered to an eight point win in the end on Sunday, but if the hosts had taken one or two of their goal chances it could have been a much different story on Shannonside. It took them 28 minutes in the second half to register their first score through a Kevin Conlon free and despite that they were only six points down as the game entered its final lap.
The scoring was opened by man-of-the-match Paul Conroy from a free, he would go on to score six points over the 70 minutes with five of them coming from placed balls. Leitrim tied the game up shortly after through wing-back Seán McWeeney and went into the lead three minutes in when Ronan Kennedy scored a fine point. Twice then the home-side came close to finding the back of Brian O’Donoghue’s net, with both chances falling to Donal Wrynn who first got on the end of a long ball into the danger area that bounced up and off the post into his path but O’Donoghue managed to block his effort. The second time he was played in by Kennedy but his effort came back off the woodwork.
Corofin’s Micheál Lundy tied the game up on the seven minute mark with a lovely left foot finish before Conroy put Galway back in front eight minutes later. Kevin Conlan had it a three apiece on 20 minutes, but from then on it was all Galway for 12 minutes where they scored 1-4 unanswered. Conroy kicked two frees and one from play in that run with Peadar Óg Gríofa also chipping in with a point from a placed ball. The big score in that run was Damien Comer’s goal, the Annaghdown man pulled the ball from the sky with his back to goal, turned his man and blasted it to the back of the from 14-yards to put his side 1-7 to 0-3 to the good.
Leitrim did respond with three points of their own before the break with Fergal Clancy, Conlan and McWeeney all getting scores. Just before the break, Leitrim really should have found the net when Ronan Kennedy was played in behind the Galway defence, he attempted to beat O’Donoghue at his near post, but the Claregalway man pulled off a great save to deny him to send his side in at the break leading by four points.
Right from the throw in Leitrim had another chance for a goal, when this tie Donal Wrynn was again played in behind the cover, but he pulled his effort wide of the far post to the relief of the Galway defence. The second half was a stop-start affair with Galway getting blown up for frees countless times in the final 35 minutes. The free count against Galway at the end of the game was well north of 35. But Leitrim’s inability to play the ball in quickly saw the Galway defence comfortably keep them at bay. Points from Gary O’Donnell, Conroy and Comer stretched their lead out to seven by the 50 minute mark. When Leitrim did raise the white flag in anger, Galway responded straight away with a brace of points from Danny Cummins to push themselves well clear again before the final say on the game was left to Patrick Sweeney who kicked Galway’s 12th point deep in injury time.
In four weeks time Mayo will come to Salthill looking to take their first step in their quest for five Connacht titles in a row. Galway will have to up their game for that one if they are to stop their northern neighbours charge.
Leitrim: K Conlan (0-3, 2 45’ 1f ), S McWeeney (0-2 ), F Clancy (0-1 ), R Kennedy (0-1 ), P McGowan (0-1 )
Galway: P Conroy (0-6 ), D Comer (1-1 ), D Cummins (0-1 ), G O’Donnell (0-1 ), M Lundy (0-1 ), P O’Griofa (0-1 ), P Sweeney (0-1 )
Leitrim: C McCrainn; M Murphy, R Gallagher, N Woods; S McWeeney, G Reynolds, T Mulvey ; D Sweeney, S Moran; D Beck, D Wrynn, K Conlan; R Kennedy, J McGrail, F Clancy. Subs: C Gilheaney for J McGrail, J Connolly for T Mulvey, P McGowan for S Moran, S Quinn for D Wrynn, A McLoughlin for D Beck,
Galway: B O’Donoghue; J Duane F Hanley, C Sweeney; L Silke, G O’Donnell, S Déver; F O’Curraoin, P Conroy; G Sice, S Walsh, M Lundy; P Og Griofa, D Comer, D Cummins. Subs: P Sweeney for S Walsh, T Flynn for F O’Curraoin, A Varley for D Cummins, M Martin for P O’Griofa, G Bradshaw for S Denvir, D Kyne for C Sweeney