Shot-shy Tyrone fall short against gutsy Galway in Omagh

Allianz Football League Division One, round three: Tyrone 0-12 Galway 1-10

Galway's Johnny McGrath (2) and Johnny Heaney pressurise Tyrone's Darragh Canavan.
Galway's Johnny McGrath (2) and Johnny Heaney pressurise Tyrone's Darragh Canavan.

Allianz Football League Division One, round three: Tyrone 0-12 Galway 1-10

TIME ran out for Tyrone at the end of this close contest – and they may worry about the clock starting to tick down on their top flight tenure too.

The Red Hands had the ball deep in the Galway half in extra added time with the opportunity to score a leveller and snatch a precious league point but the otherwise impressive Ciaran Daly chose to pass up an admittedly difficult shooting chance.

The whistle went before his pass back reached Niall Morgan, denying the goalkeeper a shot at an equaliser, which would have capped a terrific personal performance, including preventing one point with a huge catch above his crossbar.

Tyrone's Niall Morgan kicks the ball long.
Tyrone's Niall Morgan in action during the Allianz Football Division one Round Three game against Galway at O'Neills Healy Park Omagh.

The Edendork man also took and created scores, but only Trillick lad Daly and Darragh Canavan carried any other real threat to the Galway defence.

Unfortunately the elder Canavan ran out of steam after his exertions in winning the Sigerson Cup in midweek, replaced for the final quarter hour by his brother Ruairi.

To add to that absence, Darragh’s marker Johnny McGrath was then able to get upfield to notch what proved to be the winning point in the 66th minute.

Galway were good value for their win, though, despite its narrow nature, having bossed the opening quarter and then been much better in the second half, holding off Tyrone after Cathal Sweeney netted the only goal of a poor game in the 49th minute.

A Tyrone team missing many experienced names was boosted by the return of captain Peter Harte and Conn Kilpatrick, the latter available again after reluctantly serving a one-match ban, with Cormac Quinn also coming into the side.

Lorcan McGarrity of Carrickmore made his first league start, but Ruairi Canavan was one of those who dropped out of the team, making for a very unfamiliar forward unit.

Galway were without a host of stars too – including Damien Comer, Shane Walsh, Cillian McDaid, Liam Silke, and Jack Glynn, while Sean Kelly only came off the bench – but they began brightly.

Rob Finnerty was on fire early on, with two points from play either side of a converted mark, repeatedly getting out in front of Aidan Clarke – who was then replaced as his marker by Padraig Hampsey.

The travelling Tribesmen were dominating territory and possession, with Tyrone often having all 15 men behind the ball.

However, when they did get possession goalkeeper Morgan was a key player, pushing well up to set up opportunities with his precise kick-passing.

The hosts began to get their game going and Michael McKernan sent Kilpatrick racing through on goal, but Conor Gleeson kept out his fierce low shot with his legs.

Tyrone then turned the game around in the last 10 minutes of the half, with scores from Harte, Morgan – a driven effort just over the bar on the run – and Darragh Canavan, after quick hands from his cousin McGarrity.

Defiant defending from the Red Hands stretched Galway’s scoreless streak to more than 20 minutes and a Morgan free made it 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.

Tyrone's Ciarán Daly and Galway's Dylan McHugh
Tyrone's Ciarán Daly and Galway's Dylan McHugh in action during the Allianz Football Division one Round Three game between Tyrone and Galway at O'Neills Healy Park Omagh on 02-18-2024.

With the wind at their backs Tyrone would have hoped to kick on, but it was Galway who came storming out for the second half, even though their injury list was extended as midfielder Paul Conroy had to be replaced by Rory Cunningham.

That sub made a good impact, though, but better still was Danny O’Flaherty, who soon came on for Kieran Molloy.

The introduction of inspirational skipper Sean Kelly also lifted the Tribesmen, his sheer presence spooking Tyrone players, but it was O’Flaherty and Cunningham who combined to find Sweeney and he blasted the ball high to the net.

A cracking McKernan point levelled matters, but with ‘man of the match’ Johnny Heaney driving them on, Galway got four of the next five scores to give themselves some breathing space – and Morgan had also saved well to prevent a replica goal for Sweeney.

Daly narrowed the gap, then a kicked back-pass from Finnerty gave Harte possession with almost a clear half to run into, but he dwelled on it too long and the opening closed up.

Kilpatrick reduced the deficit to the minimum from a mark set up by that man Morgan - but Tyrone’s number one could not perform the miracle at the end.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-2, 0-1 free); C Devlin (0-1), P Hampsey, A Clarke; L McGarrity, C Quinn, M McKernan (0-1), N Devlin; B Kennedy, A Donaghy; S O’Donnell, C Kilpatrick (0-1 mark), P Harte (capt.) (0-1); D Canavan (0-3, 0-1 free), C Daly (0-3, 0-1 mark).

Substitutes: K McGeary for McGarrity (56); R Canavan for D Canavan (56); M McGleenan for Donaghy (59); C Donnelly for McKernan (72).

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath (0-1), S Fitzgerald, S Mulkerrin; D McHugh, J Daly, K Molloy; P Conroy (0-1), J Maher; J Heaney (0-2), M Tierney (0-1), C Sweeney (1-0); R Finnerty (0-4, 0-1 mark, 0-1, C O Curraoin, L O Conghaile.

Substitutes: C Darcy for O Curraoin (31); R Cunningham for Conroy (h-t); D O Flaherty (0-1) for Molloy (43); S Kelly for O Conghaile (49); N Daly for Tierney (64, inj.).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).