Galway footballers secure promotion with four-goal haul over Derry

The Galway footballers will be playing division one football in 2023 after securing an immediate return to the top flight with a game to spare.

It follows Sunday afternoon's emphatic 4-11 to 0-12 win over fellow promotion-chasing rivals Derry in Owenbeg.

Galway blitzed Rory Gallagher’s side in the first half, scoring 3-08, which ultimately left the Oak County with a mountain too big to climb in the second half. And Galway manager Padraic Joyce will be thrilled with the ruthless manner in which they began the game, having previously passed up a number of goal opportunities which kept opponents in the game.

Ground conditions were excellent in Errigal Park, but the stiff breeze at Galway's back in the first half had a massive influence on the game.

Galway, whose talisman Shane Walsh spent the game on the bench, were able to dismantle the Derry kick out, and this dominance, helped by the breeze, in addition to the organisation of their full press, was reflected on the scoreboard with two first-half goals resulting from kick out turnovers.

Wing forward Johnny Heaney opened the scoring for Galway with a lovely curling effort, while Derry responded through corner back Lachlan Murray to level the game one point apiece in the opening exchanges.

But from the sixth minute, Galway dominated proceedings. Paul Conroy kicked his trademark long distance score, while Dessie Conneely marked his return to the team with a point from a free. Matthew Tierney raised Galway’s first green flag when Paul Conroy found the Oughterard man at the back post with a pinpoint accurate hand pass. Tierney and Conneely raised two more white flags as the Tribesmen continued to move forward before Damien Comer scored a goal for the fourth game in succession, expertly finishing a wonderful team move instigated by corner back Liam Silke.

Placed balls by Emmett Bradley and Niall Loughlin were all Derry had to show during this Galway purple patch. Paul Conroy, Matthew Tierney and Comer all pointed before the break before Dessie Conneely put the final nail in the Derry coffin after a nice interchange between Cillian McDaid and Paul Kelly after turning over yet another Derry kick out.

Galway entered the break 3-08 to 0-04 in front, an unassailable position. Their navigation of the second half was made a lot easier when substitute Tomo Culhane bundled the ball into the net from Johnny Heaney’s rebounded shot.

Worringly, Culhane had replaced Damien Comer, who limped off after a few minutes of the second half, and although the outcome was never in doubt, there were incidents aplenty in the second half.

Paul Conroy received his marching orders mid way through the second half with the reason seeming unclear as a Derry man hit the deck going up for a kick out. There was also an extremely unsavoury incident where Derry centre back Gareth McKinless was given a red card for an eye gouge on Galway captain Seán Kelly.

The game finished with Galway remaining the only team in the country with a 100 per cent record in the league, and also the highest scorers across the four divisions.

As a result players may be rested for next week’s final round clash against Roscommon in the Hyde as preparations ramp up for a league final in a fortnight’s time against Mayo on April 24.


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