Joyce claims Galway ‘masters of our own downfall’ as Derry make it four from four

Two black cards proved costly for the Tribesmen, as Conor Glass continued his stellar form

Glass is permanent:
Glass is permanent: Conor Glass kicked 0-3 this afternoon against Galway in Salthill (25-2-2024) (Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE)
National Football League Division 1
Derry     3-10
Galway  1-11

Four Division 1 outings, four victories for high-flying Derry with a first positive result against Galway in eight attempts adding even more lustre to their trip to the west.

Scorelines elsewhere have combined to leave the Oak Leaf County comfortably clear of the chasing pack and within touching distance of a National League final ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster home tie with Dublin.

For Padraic Joyce’s side, it’s an altogether different vista. The snakes and ladders of the top-flight saw them tumble out of the top half and back into the relegation zone. Sunday’s trip to Monaghan, a clash between the bottom two, now carries even greater significance.

Galway manager Padraic Joyce
At the helm: Galway manager Padraic Joyce

Derry won all of the second half’s big moments in Salthill after taking a 1-7 to 1-5 lead to the break. On face value, it appeared a reasonable position for the Tribesmen to be in, especially with wind advantage to come, however a disastrous third quarter was ultimately where their challenge crumbled.

First, Derry ‘keeper Ryan Scullion produced a terrific double-stop to deny Niall Daly a go-ahead goal. Then came a double-whammy for Galway in the shape of a penalty converted by Shane McGuigan and a sin-binning for Kieran Molloy after he had initially coughed up possession and then denied Diarmuid Baker a goal-scoring opportunity.

“It was a big turning point in the game,” Derry manager Mickey Harte admitted afterwards. “That was our first score [after the restart]. It epitomised what we said we needed to do in the second half, to be more engaging in the tackle and get our hands on them and not give them as much freedom or time on the ball, which probably led to that error of his [Molloy].

“And the way the game is now, if someone is through on a goal and they’re fouled, there’s a black card and a penalty, that’s the name of the game. It helped us today. That’s where it’s at. And it was so, so important. We needed a cushion, to give us the confidence to be able to eke out another score or two.”

From potentially falling behind, Derry instead moved five in front and retained the initiative thereafter. To compound Galway’s problems, Seán Mulkerrin soon followed Molloy to the sin-bin and Paul Cassidy palmed home Derry’s third goal to stretch the margin out to an unassailable 3-10 to 1-7.

“The masters of our own downfall, to be honest,” said Galway boss Padraic Joyce. “We did relatively well in the first half. We came out after half-time and had a great goal chance to go one point clear. Instead of that, we find ourselves conceding possession in the middle of the pitch and conceding a penalty which was bizarre from our side. Straight away another back card after that.

27 January 2024; Shane McGuigan of Derry celebrates after kicking a point from a free to win the game during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match between Kerry and Derry at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Hot streak: 27 January 2024; Shane McGuigan of Derry celebrates after kicking a point from a free to win the game during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match between Kerry and Derry at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

“We played that period with 13 men and Derry really hurt us in that part of the game. That’s where it was obviously won and lost.”

Paul Conroy and Matthew Tierney were headline absentees for Galway after picking up injuries in Tyrone and joined Shane Walsh, Damien Comer, Liam Silke and Cillian McDaid on an already extensive list.

Derry started with all the intent shooting into the Árus Bóthar na Trá end and had 1-1 on the board inside three minutes. The Galway defence coped well with their forward line, less so their threats coming from deep as Eoin McEvoy became the latest Derry defender to find the net in the league, his third minute goal following a slick one-two with Ethan Doherty.

The loss of Brendan Rogers to the sin-bin slowed the winners’ momentum somewhat and Galway ended a 15-minute barren spell before Céin D’Arcy was located inside the cover by the influential John Daly and found the net.

Ten scores arrived in that up-tempo second quarter. Conor Glass added two points from play to an earlier attacking mark and fellow midfielder Rogers was also on target as Derry forged a two-point interval lead.

It was in the melting pot at the break. But with Scullion’s saves preceding Galway’s black card woes and McGuigan and Paul Cassidy striking all-important goals, Derry continued their early season momentum.

DERRY: R. Scullion; D. Baker, C. McKaigue, C. McCluskey; C. Doherty, E. McEvoy (1-0), P. McGrogan; C. Glass (0-3, 0-1 mark), B. Rogers (0-1); E. Doherty, C. McFaul (0-1), P. Cassidy (1-1, 0-1f); N. Loughlin (0-1), S. McGuigan (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), D. Cassidy. Subs: N. Toner, for C. Doherty inj., 35 mins; D. Gilmore (0-1), for D. Cassidy, 50 mins; L. Murray, for Loughlin, 56 mins; E. Mulholland for P. Cassidy, 65 mins.

GALWAY: C. Gleeson; S. Fitzgerald, J. McGrath, S. Mulkerrin; D. McHugh, J. Daly (0-1), D. O’Flaherty (0-1); C. D’Arcy (1-0), J. Maher; L. Ó Conghaile, J. Heaney (0-1, f), K. Molloy; R. Finnerty (0-5, 0-4f), N. Daly (0-1), C. Sweeney. Subs: S. Kelly, for D’Arcy, half-time; J. Glynn, for Molloy, 53 mins; C. Ó Curraoin (0-2, 0-1f), for Ó Conghaile, 59 mins; R. Cunningham, for Finnerty, 67 mins; P. Egan, for Sweeney, 70+2 mins.

REFEREE: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)