Tyrone’s perfect start to 2016 continued at Pearse Stadium in Salthill yesterday afternoon when they emerged two point winners over Galway in an entertaining encounter.
It was a game were the Red Hands should have won by a more comfortable margin especially after the home side lost midfielder Paul Conroy to a second yellow card seven minutes into the second half.
With substitutes Mark Bradley, Lee Brennan and Sean Cavanagh all making a scoring contribution they looked to be well in control until a Damien Comer goal set up a nervous finish. After that it took a brilliant fingertip save from keeper Niall Morgan to deny substitute Shane Walsh and ensure victory.
Tyrone led by four points at the break but they will feel that they should have been further in front as they dominated things in terms of possession. The home side had taken the lead after only thirty seconds via half back Liam Silke before Tyrone levelled matters with a well taken effort from Ronan O’Neill.
Eamon Brannigan then put Galway in front again before Tyrone took control. They grabbed a goal in fortunate circumstances after a dozen minutes when a shot from Conor Meyler was blocked by full back Declan Kyne and the ball rebounded off Tiernan McCann and into the net.
Darren McCurry and Connor McAliskey followed that up with well taken points before half back Rory Brennan hit the score of the game with a wonderful effort with the outside of the boot from out on the right wing.
It was all Tyrone at this stage and when O’Neill and McCurry both stroked over frees they were seven points to the good with twenty five minutes played. Two minutes later they almost got in for a goal from an unlikely source but defender Justin McMahon shot narrowly wide of the right hand post.
With the wind at their backs the visitors could have been out of sight but in the closing moments of the half the home side hit back. The Tyrone defence coughed up frees and centre half forward Eddie Hoare made no mistake with three conversions to get them back into contention.
It took ten minutes for the opening score of the second half to arrive and it was a wonderful team effort that was well finished off by Cavanagh. With Conroy off the field the visitors made the most of the extra man with Bradley landing a superb brace either side of one from fellow replacement Brennan.
It took Galway seventeen minutes to open their second half account through Brannigan and they looked set to slump to a heavy defeat. With seven minutes to go a Brennan free put Tyrone eight clear but that proved to be their last score of the game.
The visitors lost midfielder Colm Cavanagh to a black card and Galway began to exert a bit of pressure. With three minutes to go Comer finished low to the bottom right hand corner of the net and it was game on again.
Morgan though game to the rescue with that superb save at the expense of a “45” which Peadar O’Cuic converted. Brannigan then fired over from distance and it took a timely interception from Hugh Pat McGeary to keep Galway at bay as Tyrone held out.
Galway – T Dolan, D O’ Gaoithin, D Kyne, E Kerin, L Silke (0-1), G O’Donnell, J Heaney, P Conroy, F O’Curraoin, T Flynn, E Hoare (0-3,3f), E Tierney, D Comer (1-0), A Varley, E Brannigan (0-3). Subs – P O’Cuic (0-1, 45) for Flynn (black card), R Greene for Kerin, D Cunnane for Kyne, S Walsh (0-1, 1f) for Tierney, S Denvir for Hoare
Tyrone – N Morgan, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, R Brennan (0-1), J McMahon, T McCann (1-0), C Cavanagh, P McNulty, N Sludden, M Donnelly, C Meyler, D McCurry (0-2,1f), C McAliskey (0-1), R O’Neill (0-2,1f). Subs – HP McGeary for McCarron, S Cavanagh (0-1) for Meyler, L Brennan (0-2, 1f) for McCurry, M Bradley (0-2) for McAliskey, R Donnelly for McNulty, C McShane for C Cavanagh (black card)
Referee – D O’Mahoney, Tipperary