Category: Archive

Sam goes to Galway

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

Galway 1-14 Kildare 1-10 DUBLIN — It was a long time coming, but those 32 years of frustration were swept away at Croke Park last Sunday as the Sam Maguire Cup began its triumphant journey across the Shannon. Galway came, saw and conquered with a turbo-charged All-Ireland football final second half that left Kildare’s dreams of glory in tatters.

Seemingly down and out at the interval, it was a truly magnificent comeback by the Connacht champions. They transformed a 3-point deficit into a brilliant 4-point victory with a refreshing brand of direct football.

It wasn’t necessarily that Kildare’s tidy hand-passing game came to grief. They were simply blown away by the pace and purpose of the Galway attack.

Hitting the front with a beautifully taken Padraig Joyce goal just after the changeover, the winners never looked back as they deservedly regained a championship the county last won in 1966.

What was said during the halftime break may never come out, and although Galway’s corner forward, Niall Finnegan, mischievously suggested that the Viagra tablets were handed around, manager John O’Mahony’s pep-talk worked a treat as his players emerged and took the game by the scruff of the neck.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

At one stage struggling to make any impact on the vaunted Kildare defense, suddenly Galway were firing on all cylinders. Michael Donnellan began to run with real dash, Man of the Match Jarlath Fallon came out of his shell to deliver a sublime 35 minutes, and Kevin Walsh mopped up the loose balls at midfield.

The net result saw Galway steamroll their way to a 6-point cushion with 10 minutes left. Some of the shooting by Fallon, Finnegan and Sean O Domhnaill was inspirational and all around the pitch the maroon jerseys kept up an irresistible tempo.

Afterward, O’Mahony, who had taken Mayo to a losing final in 1989, insisted that it was a players’ moment and he would keep his feelings for another day.

"All I’ll say is that Galway have a positive culture, a self-belief culture and I tried to tap into it as best I could at halftime," he said. "They then had the confidence to come out and play the way they did."

That was all O’Mahony offered.

Meanwhile, Kildare’s Mick O’Dwyer had lost Ronan Quinn through injury before the throw-in and Sos Dowling was brought in as a replacement. Strangely, the veteran Dowling was asked to mark the speedy Donnellan, while Brian Lacey, who had done a superb job on Maurice Fitzgerald in the semifinal, went toe-to-toe with Galway’s slowest attacker, Finnegan.

In fairness to O’Dwyer, Kildare coped well enough during the first half once they had weathered a fast Galway start, which yielded points by Joyce, Sean de Paor and Donnellan. Dermot Earley flicked home a goal after a Willie McCreery assist and Kildare began to dominate.

Their swift hand-passing worked a treat as the scores flowed from Declan Kerrigan, Karl O’Dwyer and the busy Eddie McCormack to make it 1-5 to 0-5 at the break. But from then on it was downhill fast — a dark day for the Lilywhites.

"Our preparation wasn’t ideal," O’Dwyer said. "Ronan Quinn was gone, Glen Ryan and Brian Lacey both had injuries, but you can’t be complaining about things like that. It’s been a great season, but Galway were the better team in the second half and we have to accept it."

Not long into that second half, the resignation in the Kildare ranks was obvious. O’Dwyer rolled the dice one last time when he brought on Padraig Brennan and Brian Murphy for Martin Lynch and Padraig Gravin, respectively, and while Earley and later Murphy both threatened the Galway goal, the cup was on its way west.

As Fallon and Donnellan changed the course of the contest, Joyce cashed in with a 39th minute goal and Finnegan, Fallon and Finnegan again all added points in quick succession as Kildare were left reeling in the wake of so many quick-fire attacks.

By now the 2-to-1 outsiders were in full flow and while Kildare closed the gap in the dying minutes, De Poar fittingly had the last word with a well-taken score.

"It was a bad halftime situation to be in," Galway’s captain, Ray Silke, said. "We were cool enough, though and I think Kildare were a bit surprised by the ferocity of our second-half performance. The big difference after the interval was Jarlath Fallon and Kevin Walsh."

So, the result might have been the biggest All-Ireland upset since Donegal toppled Dublin in 1992, but no one who witnessed such a stunning second-half performance was doubting Galway’s pedigree. For Kildare, the tough slog out of Leinster has to begin again. Meath, Dublin and the rest are all waiting to continue the Lilywhites’ 70-year famine.

Meanwhile, out West the feast is in full swing.

Galway: M. McNamara; T. Meehan, G. Fahy, T. Mannion; R. Silke, J. Divilly, S. de Paor (0-2); K. Walsh, S. O Domhnaill (0-1); M. Donnellan (0-2), J. Fallon (0-3), S. Walsh; D. Savage, P. Joyce (1-2), N. Finnegan (0-4). Sub: P. Clancy for Walsh, 65 mins.

Kildare: C. Byrne; B. Lacey, J. Finn, K. Doyle; S. Dowling, G. Ryan, A. Rainbow; N. Buckley (0-1), W. McCreery; E. McCormack (0-2), D. Kerrigan (0-1), D. Earley (1-1); M. Lynch, K. O’Dwyer (0-2), P. Gravin. Subs: P. Brennan (0-3) for Gravin, 45 mins; B. Murphy for Lynch, 58 mins.

Referee: J Bannon (Longford).

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese