With Shane Walsh in top form, Galway survived a rocky opening half to storm past Roscommon and claim a second Conancht title of Kevin Walsh’s tenure.
Roscommon turned Galway over on their own patch this time last year to stun the Tribesmen in the provincial decider, but it was Galway’s turn to upset the home party as Shane Walsh’s eight points were vital.
A goal from Ciaráin Murtagh 13 minutes from the interval put Roscommon three points clear, but they failed to score from play in the second half and only halted Galway’s run to victory with Conor Devaney’s penalty six minutes from time.
In last year’s Connacht final Roscommon blasted out of the traps and worked their way into a seven-point lead after 14 minutes, and despite expecting another barrage from the start Galway were unable to stave off a similar start from Roscommon.
By the 22nd minute the home side held a 1-4 to 0-2 lead, with Ciaráin Murtagh’s goal adding to his side’s bright start against the rocky Tribesmen.
A poorly struck free from Ciaráin Murtagh in the first minute failed to get his side off the mark, and it wasn’t until the seventh minute that his brother Diarmuid found the posts when he made the most of an incisive pass from centre-back Fintan Cregg.
Three minutes later Shane Walsh landed the first of three first-half points or his side when he scored on the run from 45 metres out, but three in a row from the home side – the first two came from Diarmuid Murtagh who was impressive against Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh – and Donie Smith pointed on the turn after 17 minutes when a goal chance appeared to be developing.
Walsh seemed to be Galway’s only bright spark and he curled over a sweet score from the left to settle his side, but moments later Ciaráin Murtagh beat Barry McHugh easily in defence, cut in along the endline and tucked the ball low into the corner of Ruairí Lavelle’s net.
A quick free allowed Ian Burke to score for Galway, before Walsh provided the bullets and Burke put a goal between the sides with his second point in the space of three minutes.
Damien Comer was well marshalled by Niall McInerney before the break, but the Galway captain felt he could have had a penalty seven minutes from the interval, but the St Brigid’s tackle was deemed fair by referee David Coldrick.
Instead, an exchange of scores meant Galway trailed 1-5 to 0-5 at the break, not a bad return for Kevin Walsh’s side considering the home side dominated the opening half.
Diarmuid Murtagh’s free stretched Roscommon’s lead in the 39th minute, but it proved to be their final point of the game.
Runs of six and five points unanswered by Galway were broke by Devaney’s penalty and in the end Galway ran out worthy winners.
S Walsh 0-8 (4f), I Burke 0-3, D Comer 0-2, S Kelly 0-1, S Armstrong 0-1, A Varley 0-1.
D Murtagh 0-5 (2f), C Murtagh 1-0, C Devaney 1-0, D Smith 0-1.
R Lavelle; D Kyne, S O'Ceallaigh, D Wynne; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; P Conroy, T Flynn; E Brannigan, B McHugh, S Kelly; I Burke, D Comer, S Walsh.
C Duggan for Conroy (46), S Armstrong for McHugh (49), E Kerin for Wynne (50), P Cooke for Heaney (65), A Varley for Brannigan (70), G O’Donnell for O’Ceallaigh (73)
C Lavin; D Murray, P Domican, N McInerney; J McManus, F Cregg, B Stack; C Compton, T O'Rourke; C Murtagh, E Smith, C Devaney; D Smith, D Murtagh, N Kilroy.
U Harney for Compton (30), F Lennon for Murray (53, black card), C Cregg for Stack (56), F Cregg for C Murtagh (61), R Stack for Kilroy (71).
D Coldrick (Meath)