GAA Football

Monaghan fall in Salthill as Galway reach top-flight final

Galway's Damien Corner tries to get his shot away under pressure from Monaghan pair Ryan McAnespie and Conor Boyle during yesterday's Football League Division One match at Pearse Stadium 

Galway 0-17 Monaghan 1-10

KIERAN Hughes helped himself to 1-3 but ended up on the losing side as Galway qualified for their first Division One football final since 2006.

Monaghan can still reach the final themselves, but need Galway to beat Dublin next weekend and then Malachy O’Rourke’s side must also conquer the All-Ireland champions in their final game to make the fi nal. It could have been very different for Monaghan yesterday.

Two points up approaching half-time, they pressed the self-destruct button and had captain Fintan Kelly sent off, while Galway opened the second period with six unanswered points to take control. Before the Monaghan forward was sent off, his side had put in a brilliant 10-minute spell, where they kicked four points without reply, but the sending off had a massive impact on the outcome.

“I don’t know, I might see it later on but we thought he was wrestling himself free,” said O’Rourke.

“It was the changing of the game. We have to learn from it. But [we are] very disappointed with it. We were going well at that stage. We were well in the game. But as the game went on the boys started to tire.”

The loss of Patrick Sweeney after just nine minutes was a big blow to Galway, but as it turned out, his replacement Sean Armstrong went on to deliver a man-of-thematch performance as Galway’s play-maker. When he arrived into the action Galway were 0-2 to 0-1 ahead after Paul Conroy and Barry McHugh found the target, although Jack McCarron’s free soon levelled matters for Monaghan.

Three of the next four points went to the home side as the seemed to make the most of their direct running and support on the shoulder in the face of Monaghan’s defensive wall, but a couple of points from Conor McManus and another from McCarron gave Monaghan a 0-7 to 0-5 interval lead.

The sending off was crucial, though, and shorn of that extra body in defence Monaghan began to struggle with Galway’s strong ball carriers. It seemed as if Kelly could have avoided kicking out after he was fouled by Gary O’Donnell, and as well as losing their player, Monaghan also lost a tap-over free, which would have put them well in control.

“Before half-time there was 15 minutes where it was just fl at, too fl at for our liking,” said Galway boss Kevin Walsh.

“We got them back into the dressing room and had a few words and defi nitely the intensity levels lifted up higher.

“I’d be much happier with the second half, with the application levels and intensity, apart from a few instances in the last 20 minutes.”

Damien Comer started the second half with a great point and Shane Walsh did similar, while a couple of McHugh frees and Brannigan and Adrian Varley scores pushed Galway well ahead.

For the most past Eoghan Kerin was handed the job of marking Conor McManus and he had a tough day on the Annaghdown man, with McManus’s only second-half point coming from a free in the 52nd minute – Monaghan’s first of the half. That score put three points between the sides, but Galway went on to hit three more without reply and fi ve of the next six scores to be certain of the win.

At the death a long ball unlocked the Galway back line, though, and Kieran Hughes rattled a goal for Monaghan, which was the fi rst conceded by Galway in their fi ve games. Even though Owen Duffy also came close late on to a second goal, Galway were never in trouble.

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