The conditions were by no means perfect, yet the combined talents of Padraic Joyce and Micheal Meehan, the performance of Niall Coleman at midfield and the emergence of defender Darren Mullahy all made for several eye-catching sub-plots.
As for Tyrone, they are no longer the force of 2005, and given that the match was played on the fourth anniversary of the death of Cormac McAnallen, they understandably might not have been as focused as manager Mickey Harte would have wished, however, it was far from a wasted journey for the Ulster county.
If they only have one league point from their three outings, and if they are already facing relegation, Harte wasn’t too downcast. “The boys were very conscious of the day, and we asked them to give a wholehearted performance, that that would be a good way to remember Cormac. But Galway deserved their victory,” said the manager.
Playing into the wind, the winners still managed to be level at 1-4 apiece at the interval after Meehan’s superb goal had been cancelled out by Sean Cavanagh, who was making his return to competitive action. Galway soon set about opening a lead early in the second half, but Raymond Mulgrew’s goal kept Tyrone in contention until late scores from Gary Sice and the outstanding Meehan sealed the result to give coach Liam Sammon a seventh successive win since he took charge.
A controversial last-minute free by Bryan Sheehan gave Kerry a narrow 0-10 to 0-9 victory over Derry in Killarney, but there was no solace for Derry manager, Paddy Crozier, in his team’s one-point defeat.
Sheehan’s free came from a foul that was missed by most spectators, but apparently seen by referee Michael Collins. “Some of the referee’s decisions were bordering on the ridiculous,” fumed Crozier. “It wasn’t just one decision, I could’ve counted seven or eight of them.”
The manager’s mood wasn’t helped by corner-back, Francis McEldowney’s, dismissal late in the first half following a fracas on the edge of the Derry square. In all, Collins produced a total of 11 yellow cards and that one red.
Kerry struggled to use the extra man and with Kevin McCloy in impressive form, Derry could easily have snatched the result. “At the end of the day, we had three or four chances to win the game, and the referee didn’t miss them,” added Crozier. “It was our own mistakes that cost us the game.”
By contrast, Kildare dug deep to see off the challenge of Donegal by 0-12 to 0-11 at Newbridge to record a first win of the campaign for new manager, Kieran McGeeney. Usually noted for their skill more than durability, this Kildare outfit appear to be performing already in the image of their boss as they came through what was an intensely physical game with Dermot Earley providing the inspiration.
Trailing after Colm McFadden landed his eighth point for Donegal, Kildare finished strongly with two scores from sub Michael Conway to deliver a result which pleased McGeeney. “Yeah, pleased with the overall level of performance especially the way the lads battled when they were under real pressure in the second half. I thought we just about deserved to shade it.”
Meanwhile, Laois and Mayo, who had both lost their opening two games, got off the mark with a 1-13 apiece draw in Portlaoise where Michael Tierney levelled matters with a late free to bring his personal tally to 0-8.
In Division Two, the Cork players finally emerged from the mire of their bitter dispute with the county board to do what they do best. With new manager Conor Counihan at the helm, they were understandably rusty but still managed to defeat Roscommon at Kiltoom by 1-14 to 0-15.
With Daniel Goulding and Pearse O’Neill in fine form, Cork hit their stride coming up to the break when they piled on the scores to lead by 0-10 to 0-6. Roscommon were unable to benefit sufficiently from the breeze at their backs after that, and Cork struck a decisive blow in the 62nd minute when Donncha O’Connor’s clever low shot found the net.
“I don’t think that was the way to lose a game,” said Roscommon manager, John Maughan. “We had several opportunities where we should’ve scored, we then gave away a soft goal on a cheap turnover. I’m very disappointed.”
Monaghan made if three wins out of three with a late 1-11 to 1-10 victory over Armagh in what was a real battle at Clones. Monaghan looked to have had the game in the bag when they led by four points near the finish, but Aidan O’Rourke’s goal and a point from by Tony Kernan brought the sides level.
Then against the run of play, Armagh had a chance to snatch a win only for Aaron Kernan to miss from a free, and enough time remained for a composed Paul Finlay to earn maximum points for his team with an injury time free.
Having being awarded a walkover by Cork earlier in the campaign, Dublin joined Monaghan at the top of the division with a hard fought 1-9 to 0-7 success against Cavan at Breffni Park where Bernard Brogan scored an all-important goal. Finally, there was joy for Westmeath who recorded a rare 1-10 to 0-8 victory over rivals Meath in Mullingar.