Derry 2-12, Galway 1-18
Two late goals failed to salvage an out-of-sorts Derry as Galway cantered to a deceptively comfortable three point victory in Celtic Park on Sunday.
The Oak Leafers had manager Damian Barton serving a touchline suspension and suffered badly in a game they never looked like making a contest out of until they ran out of time. By contrast Galway were excellent, Johnny Heaney and Eamon Brannigan stand out performers in an impressive performance from Kevin Walsh’s team.
Galway signalled their intent straight from the throw in as Paul Conroy picked up possession and found Eddie Hoare in a mysterious amount of space from which he sent over the game’s opening score with only 12 seconds on the clock.
Derry responded with a lovely Mark Lynch score from out on the right touchline and were in front seconds later when Ryan Bell burst past David Wynne and knocked over the bar when perhaps he could have gone for goal.
Galway looked impressive though and were finding spaces in the Derry half-back line too easily. A superb Damien Comer point from wide out under the main stand drew the sides level before Galway took controls with five points in succession.
Even a deserved ninth minute black card for corner-back David Wynne who dragged James Kielt to the floor, couldn’t upset the visitors momentum as Conroy, Adrian Varley, Shane Walsh, Liam Silke and Hoare from a free made it 0-7 to 0-2 by the 15th minute.
By contrast, Derry were racking up the wides and struggling to make an impact in the Galway half with Kevin Walsh’s men dominating the middle third of the field.
Ryan Bell was the one Oak Leaf player who looked capable of hurting Galway and he reduced the deficit to five with Derry’s first score for 16 minutes but Galway responded immediately with a great run and point from half-back Johnny Heaney.
From there to half-time, it was ‘tit-for-tat’ Brenda n Rogers and Eamon Brannigan swapping scores before late points from Emmett Bradley and Bell again left the home side closer to Galway than they deserved to be at 0-07 to 0-10 at half-time.
Derry made Galway wait out on the pitch before they eventually emerged for the second half but it was the visitors who picked up from where they had left off in the first half with 1-01 inside the opening two minutes. First Heaney hit a lovely point after a nice Comer pass before Brannigan’s pass picked out Varley’s who skipped inside and blasted the ball high into the net for double scores at 1-11 to 0-07.
Derry’s hopes weren’t helped when McFaul received a black card for a needless trip in midfield but Galway’s ability to find space was picking holes in a Derry defence that, despite having numbers inside their own 45, were being picked apart at will.
Enda Tierney, Heaney, Brannigan and Heaney increased the visitors advantage 1-15 to 0-08 and it could have been worse for Derry had Thomas Mallon not saved low from Silke
Galway continued to looked comfortable despite Derry ringing the changes as the game wore on. One of those changes, Emmet McGuckin, offered some hope when he appeared to touch home Shane Heavron’s high centre but it was too little too late. Even Niall Loughlin’s late goal couldn’t change matters as Derry slumped to a first league defeat.
Derry: Thomas Mallon; Ryan Ferris, Chrissy McKaigue, Karl McKaigue; Mark Craig, Gareth McKinless, Daniel Heavron; Emmett Bradley (0-1), Brendan Rogers (0-1); Benny Heron, James Kielt (0-3, 2f), Ciaran McFaul; Ryan Bell (0-6), Mark Lynch (0-1), Daniel McKinless. (Subs) Niall Loughlin (1-0) for D McKinless 30mins; Niall Holly for R Ferris, H/T; Sean Leo McGoldrick for B Heron, 41mins; Emmet McGuckin (1-0) for D Heavron, 50mins; Conor McAtamney for E Bradley, 57mins;
Black Card: Ciaran McFaul, 43mins (replaced by Shane Heavron)
Galway: Manus Breathnac; David Wynne, Declan Kyne, Eoghan Kerin; Liam Silke (0-1), Garry O’Donnell, Johnny Heaney (0-4); Paul Conroy (0-2), Thomas Flynn; Shane Walsh (0-1, 1f), Eddie Hoare (0-3, 2f), Enda Tierney (0-2); Eamon Brannigan (0-3), Adrian Varley (1-1), Damien Comer (0-1). (Subs) Cathal Sweeney for J Heaney, 61mins; Paul Mannion for Brannigan 53mins; Sean Denvir for A Varley, 61mins
Black Card: David Wynne 9mins (replaced by Finian Hanley)
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)