Galway 0-13 Cavan 0-11
The result rather than the performance is all that mattered for these two at Pearse Stadium yesterday and the value of this win will not be lost on Galway manager Kevin Walsh as he now prepares for away games in Dublin and Monaghan.
Defeat for last year’s league finalists would have put them straight into deep relegation trouble and such an outcome seemed inevitable when they fell 0-5 to 0-2 behind after 23 minutes despite playing with the strong breeze in Salthill.
But Galway got on top either side of the restart and their passage to victory was aided when Cavan had three men binned in the second half, going down to 12 at one stage for four minutes.
Galway also lost a man during that spell, suffering the first black card of the afternoon, but they pushed on to claim an invaluable win.
“It was always going to be a close one,” said Galway manager Kevin Walsh. “But at the same time character was shown which is important at this time of the year.
“The second half performance was reasonably good. We went up four or five points, goal chances in that five points as well.”
The sides were deadlocked at 0-5 apiece at the end of the opening half with Cavan goalkeeper Raymond Galligan among their scorers as they opened up a 0-5 to 0-2 lead after 23 minutes, with Conor Madden kicking their best point from the right.
But Galway rallied before the break with the superb Shane Walsh, Gareth Bradshaw and Johnny Heaney getting them back on level terms.
The sides were level three times in the third quarter with Padraig Cunningham pointing along with two Walsh frees for Galway, while Martin Reilly, Pierce Smith and Jack Brady found the range for Cavan.
By then the black cards were coming thick and fast. Galway did not suffer when Cillian McDaid was binned but then Cavan lost Reilly, Killian Brady and Killian Clarke to the bin and Galway, despite having Peter Cooke also black-carded, pushed for home.
Heaney, with two points, Gary O’Donnell and All-Star Ian Burke found the target along with another Walsh effort to lead by five going into the closing stages.
But Cavan did not surrender and late points from Reilly, Cian Mackey and Conor Madden cut the gap to two but they never looked like getting the goal they needed to win it.
“I thought Martin Reilly’s black card was very harsh, the two lads were in the air and I thought Martin was fouled first,” said Cavan manager Mickey Graham, who is also busy preparing Mullinalaghta for their All-Ireland club semi-final against Dr Crokes.
“The other ones were probably black cards no qualms about them, I’m not going to make any excuses.
“But I reckon they should have had a red card for the high tackle on Thomas Galligan. He nearly cut the head off him, but the referee seemed to not think that was the case even though the linesman was there.
“Definitely it threw us off a wee bit, that bit of indiscipline midway through the second half was a big factor.”
Scorers for Galway: S Walsh (0-4, frees); J Heaney (0-3); P Cunningham (0-2); P Cooke, G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell, I Burke (0-1 each)
Scorers for Cavan: M Reilly (0-3, 2 frees); P Smith (0-2 frees); J Brady (0-2 1 sl); C Madden (0-2, 1 free); R Galligan (free), C Mackey (0-1 each).
GALWAY: R Lavelle; D Wynne, S A Ó Ceallaigh, E Kerin; G O’Donnell, L Silke, S Kelly; C Duggan, T Flynn; C McDaid, P Cooke, J Heaney; P Cunningham, I Burke, S Walsh.
Subs for Galway: G Bradshaw for Wynne (20), D Cummins for Cunningham (65), C D’Arcy for Flynn (70), J Duane for Burke (72).
CAVAN: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, K Clarke, P Faulkner; M Reilly, B Fortune, C Rehill; T Galligan, M Argue; P Smith, J Brady, N Murray; C Brady, D McVeety, C Madden.
Subs for Cavan: K Brady for Fortune (35), K Tierney for Argue (57), P Graham for Smith (61), C Mackey for T Galligan (65), L Fortune for Faulkner (66)
Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).