by Brían Mangan
Galway edged out Sligo by two points after a cracking game tonight in Tuam, despite playing nearly all of the second half with 14 players. A huge crowd roared on the home team towards the finish as the Yeats County men threw everything at them looking for an equaliser, before Nathan Grainger struck for his third point of the second half to give his team the two-point cushion, which they held until the final whistle.
Sligo started with tremendous intensity and owned the ball for the first ten minutes. They will be disappointed to not have hit the scoreboard more during this purple patch, as they just had two Eoghan Smith frees on the board, leading 0-2 to 0-1 after Ethan Fiorentini scored a lovely effort on the overlap to get Galway off the mark. Indeed had Gavin Duffy seen his fourth minute effort slide inside Donie Hallerans post rather than an inch outside, it could have been a different result. Galway woke up as the half wore on, with Grainger, Culhane and Seoige a constant threat and always on the move and available in the full forward line. There was a mighty battle at midfield, with the laser like kickouts of Jack Teape giving Sligo the edge as he found Canice Mulligan and Joseph Keaney with great consistency. McLaughlin and Flaherty are a formidable partnership also for Galway and they both showed flashes, linking play well with accurate kick passes and carrying possession effectively from deep. At half time the home team led by 2, 0-7 to 0-5 after an entertaining, open game where both sides looked to kick as their first option.
Salthill Knocknacarra man O’Flaherty rampaged forward for a brilliant score directly after the throw in to put his side a goal up. A minute later a high ball into the square from Connor Finn of Sligo was won brilliantly against the odds by Gavin Duffy, who swivelled and slid his left footed shot low underneath Halleran to level the contest. Things went form bad to worse for Galway moments later when centre back Darragh Kennedy then received a straight red directly after the goal for an off the ball incident. As is often the case after having a player dismissed, this galvanised Galway and they began to dominate. A key intervention from Sligo full back Jack Lavin saw him deflect Warren Seoiges goal bound effort over the bar, for Warrens 4th point from play. Two Culhane frees and a nice Nathan Grainger effort extended the Galway advantage to 4 with 10 minutes to go, before Sligo roared back into the game started chipping away at the Galway lead which, they had reduced to one in the 30th minute, Conor Matthews and Eoghan Smith kicking important scores in this period and Canice Mulligan, Connor Finn and Luke Casserly hugely influential. Sligo will be very disappointed they weren’t able to force at least a draw having pushed the Tribesmen so hard, but they will take huge heart going onto the rest of the competition after this impressive display.
In the other match taking place this evening in the Connacht Minor Championship, Mayo defeated Roscommon comprehensively in Ballina, 4-14 to 0-5. Round 3 is next Friday night, with Leitrim heading to the Hyde to play Roscommon and Sligo hosting Mayo in Markievicz Park.
Referee: Brendan Healy
GALWAY: D Halloran, J McGrath, R King, L Tevnan, E Fiorentini (0-1), D Kennedy, D McNulty, J McLaughlin, D O’Flaherty (0-1), A Naughton (0-1f), D Cox, D Brady (0-1), N Grainger (0-3), T Culhane (0-3, 0-2fs), W Seoige (0-4) SUBS: E Nolan (0-1), C Hernon, R Burke, S McGrath
SLIGO: J Teape, M Connolly-McGowan, J Lavin, O Hynes, C Mulligan, C McKeon, C Finn, O McDonagh, J Keaney (0-1), D Walsh, E Smith (0-4, 0-2fs), L Casserly, L Deignan, O Gorman (0-3), G Duffy (1-1) SUBS: J Davis, C Matthews (0-1)