New York created two scoring chances in the game’s opening minute but corner forwards Paddy Smith and PJ Ward each missed the target, with Smith’s shot falling short, while Ward’s effort carried wide.
New York manager Barry O’Neill said afterwards “big day nerves let us down.”
While New York squandered their early chances, Galway soon settled into their task. Full forward Padraig Joyce created Galway’s first chance when his juking solo run freed him for a shot on goal. New York keeper Evan Byrne made a leg save, but could do nothing with the rebound, which rolled to Michael Meehan.
The U-21 sensation calmly chipped the ball over the bar with a soccer style touch, and Galway was on the board after 2:30. Meehan’s fellow “Terrible Twin” Sean Armstrong was a late scratch, reportedly sick with a cold, but his replacement Matthew Clancy didn’t disappoint. Clancy’s three first half points, combined with Michael Meehan’s 2-1 in the opening 35 minutes, essentially sealed New York’s fate.
The home side were having trouble mounting any sort of an attack, and the strategy of isolating Ward and Smith in the full forward line was not working out as Galway defenders Kieran Fitzgerald and Richie Fahey were getting to the ball first more often than not. Finally New York got on the scoreboard via a 20th minute Ward free, earned by Mark Dobbin, and New York trailed 0-5 to 0-1.
Manager O’Neill went to his bench for midfielder Tadgh Healy at Cathal Loughnane’s expense, and when Ronan Garvey was fouled, New York had an opportunity to pull within a goal.
Unfortunately for the Gotham squad, Ward’s effort carried wide and the chance was lost, setting the stage for the pivotal segment of the match. Midfielder Niall Coleman set events in motion with a long, accurate ball to Michael Meehan. Meehan exchanged passes with Joyce, the 1-2 sending Meehan in alone on Byrne’s goal. The youthful goal-scoring machine, who netted three in Galway’s recent U-21 All-Ireland final victory, calmly took his chance, and New York was in trouble.
Michael Donnellan then marked his return to the Tribesmen’s lineup with a point, and New York trailed 1-6 to 0-1 with 24-minutes gone.
While New York was in trouble, but two Ward points sandwiched around Joyce’s first score restored hope before the other shoe dropped on the hosts. New York fullback James Mitchell and Joyce settled under a long high ball 21 yards from the New York goal when Joyce’s blatant shove left Mitchell sprawled on Gaelic Park sod. Joyce slipped the ball to Meehan, now unmarked, as New York scrambled to cover Joyce. Before the umpire could reach the green flag, the match had been decided.
A final Clancy point set the midway score line at Galway 2-8 to New York 0-3.
After the half time introduction of New York’s victorious 1980 Gael Linn team that defeated Galway, play resumed with little chance of the 2005 New York team emulating their predecessors.
Galway continued their pressure on the New York defense on the restart. Only a saving block on Joyce by Nobby Smith prevented a Galway goal in the half’s opening moments. A couple of Galway misses from Donnellan (a 50) and Joyce (a short free) were part of a sloppy patch from Galway, but they soon straightened up.
Joyce started it with a 3rd minute point before Paul Clancy took over. Clancy had been fairly quiet until that point, but he was now freed from New York’s best back, Paul O’Connor, who was shifted to fullback in a shuffled New York back line.
Paul Clancy pointed twice before putting a final nail in New York’s coffin with a goal off good work from John Devane and Donnellan. By now the outcome was far beyond doubt and both teams began to empty their benches. New York to give players who had trained so hard for this one big Sunday out a taste of championship football and Galway to access players for the rest of their championship campaign.
To their credit, New York never quit, nor showed signs of such. Although outmatched by a superior team that shows every indication of being serious All-Ireland contenders, New York battled from the opening throw-in to the closing whistle.
New York knew Galway would be good. Keeper Evan Byrne, who was very solid and couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals, said “We expected big things from Galway,” but continued, “we expected big things from ourselves too.”
Expressing his disappointment, Byrne said, “we tried to battle, but we were always that bit behind.”
New York’s best performers on what was obviously a difficult day were Byrne, whose booming kickouts never faltered, Paul O’Connor and Mark Dobbin. Substitutes Tadgh Healy and Galway native Mike Keaveney acquitted themselves well when introduced.
New York will now point to October’s FBD Final, which they will try to defend for the first time, and next spring’s Connaght Championship match against Roscommon. Roscommon are the last of the Connaght counties to travel to New York to contest the opening round of the Provincial Championship. New York’s hosting role is up for review after next year’s match, and a strong performance will be essential if New York hopes to continue in the role.
Man of the Match: Padraig Joyce
Alan Keane, Richie Fahey, Kieran Fitzgerald, Val Feeney, Declan Meehan, Damien Burke, Michael Comer, Joe Bergin (0-2), Niall Coleman, John Devane, Paul Clancy (1-2), Michael Donnelan (0-2), Michael Meehan (2-2), Padraig Joyce (0-2), Matthew Clancy (0-3) Subs: Clive Monaghan, Tomas Gilbin, Sean Og de Paor, Shay Walsh (0-1), Barry Cullinane
Evan Byrne, Pa Murphy, James Mitchell, Niall Corbett, Norbett Smith, Paul O’Connor, Shaun Campbell, Cathan Loughnane, Sean Lordan, Ronan Garvey, Robbie Moran, Mark Dobbin, PJ Ward (0-4, 3 fr), Brian Newman, Paddy Smith Subs: Martin Donaghey, Stephen Flynn, Tadgh Healy, Mike Keaveney (0-1), Matthew Mitchell (0-1)
Referee: Jimmy White