By DARAGH SMALL,
Tiernan McCann’s first-half strike was the difference at Pearse Stadium as Tyrone withstood a late Galway fightback to make it back-to-back wins in Division 2 of the Allianz league.
Galway had to play 27 minutes without influential midfielder Paul Conroy and even though they hit 1-3 without reply late on, Damien Comer’s goal wasn’t enough to peg back the McKenna Cup holders.
Tyrone had seven of last year’s U-21 All-Ireland winning players in their ranks, and their bench proved the difference. Mark Bradley and Lee Brennan both bagged a double to keep Galway out of reach.
Galway’s Tom Flynn and Tyrone’s Justin McMahon both got black cards on the day, but there was little cynical play on the field. The wet and windy conditions played a massive part, and with the elements at their backs in the first-half Tyrone took a 1-6 to 0-5 lead into half-time.
But that advantage could have been so much more had they converted their dominance onto the scoreboard. Galway started the half well, but finished it brilliantly and that ensured they only trailed by four at the break.
These sides hadn’t met since their 2012 league meeting where Tyrone won it 1-14 to 0-13, and after a win a piece last weekend this looked set to be another hotly contested encounter.
Galway used Comer and Adrian Varley as their primary target men up front, and from the off they attacked via route one. It paid dividends inside the first minute, when Conroy launched a speculative ball into Comer. He fielded it, and gave the pass to Liam Silke, who slotted the point.
Ronan O’Neill bagged Tyrone’s first score after nine minutes, but Eamon Brannigan hit back and it looked as though Galway were on form.
Nevertheless McCann popped up to finish a re-bounded Conor Meyler shot to the net after 12 minutes, and that began a 1-5 onslaught from the northerners.
Darren McCurry notched two of those, and it was his free in the 26thminute that put them 1-6 to 0-2 in the lead. Amazingly they wouldn’t score again the first-half. Three Eddie Hoare frees dragged Galway back into it.
Sean Cavanagh was introduced after the break and his wonderful effort ten minutes into the second-half put Tyrone back in the ascendency. Paul Conroy got red for a black card, after his earlier yellow.
Brannigan hit back again, but when Bradley and Brennan hit two points each, the game looked beyond Galway. Yet they fought back and Comer’s goal provided the grandstand finish.
Scorers – Tyrone: T McCann 1-0, R O'Neill (1f), D McCurry (1f), M Bradley, L Brennan 0-2 (1f), S Cavanagh 0-1, R Brennan 0-1, C McAliskey 0-1
Galway: E Brannigan, E Hoare 0-3 (3f), D Comer 1-0, L Silke, P Cooke (1'45), S Walsh 0-1 (1f).
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; R Brennan, J McMahon, T McCann; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; N Sludden, M Donnelly, C Meyler; D McCurry, C McAliskey, R O'Neill.
Subs: HP McGeary for McCarron (h-t), C Cavanagh for Meyler (42), M Bradley for McAliskey (42), L Brennan for McCurry (49), R Donnelly for McNulty (58), C McShane for C Cavanagh (66 BC),
Galway: T Dolan; E Kerin, D Kyne, D Wynne; L Silke, G O’Donnell, J Heaney; P Conroy, F O Curraoin; T Flynn, E Brannigan, E Tierney; D Comer, A Varley, E Hoare.
Subs: P Cooke for Flynn (23 BC), S Walsh for Tierney (48), S Denvir for Hoare (62), R Greene for Kerin (68), D Cunnane for Kyne (68).
Referee: Derek O'Mahony (Tipperary).