Well, the same logic evidently applies to followers of Derry football as the attendance barely scraped over 1,500 at Celtic Park yesterday.
Those that opted instead for the TV remote and the Six Nations rugby missed little from the home team here. With a raw full-back line and a half-back line that offered them little in the way of protection, Galway were given enough chances to cling to their coattails in the opening quarter. Then they went about punching several holes in the defence to score 1-5 to Derry’s solitary point in the second quarter. After baptising several of the bright young things in Galway to the ways of the National League, Alan Mulholland watched his team grow in confidence throughout, aided in no small way by a magnificent second half by veteran Nicky Joyce, a late inclusion in the starting line-up.
Named as captain this week, Paddy Bradley was into the action from the outset, springing onto a ball played in for the first movement, feeding Barry McGoldrick for the opening score. And while Derry looked lively as the game began to take on a pattern, Galway managed to keep in touch.
Michael Martin pointed a long-range effort as an instant riposte to Derry’s opener, and Martin could have had a goal on 15 minutes when Danny Cummins flashed the ball across the endline and Martin rose to punch, but directed it over the crossbar.
Derry seemed to get the adrenaline shot they needed when Bradley played a nice one-two and sent in a looping shot that was tailing wide until Cailean O’Boyle got his fist to it to direct it to the net, though there was a hint of a square ball about the effort.
Thereafter, Galway threw the shackles off. Martin hit his third point on 20 minutes after jinking past two defenders, Mark Hehir struck his second free over, before a sweeping move that was worked through the hands of Paul Conroy and Gary O’Donnell to Gareth Bradshaw saw the half-back dummy Devlin and lash home.
They drove on from this with points from Joyce, Bradshaw and Martin.
John Brennan held his side back for a long time in the dressing rooms at half-time, and when they eventually came out they hoisted a few high balls around the square to O’Boyle. It gave the Galway full-back line an opportunity to showcase how robust and solid a unit they can be by clearing without much fuss. Hanley in particular grew into the game and won his personal battle with Bradley hands down.
With 20 minutes left Devlin followed the fashion of goalkeepers taking deadball kicks when he stroked over a ‘45’ to leave only two points in it, and with only eight minutes on the clock O’Boyle narrowed it to the minimum from a free. Galway though put on a late spurt with a stream of points, the highlight being Joyce’s leap over full-back Liam Morrow, his swivel and shot, to prise the points out of Celtic Park, and leave Brennan praying for miracles to be worked on the treatment table for Derry’s stricken players.
DERRY: D. Devlin (0-1); B McCallion, L. Morrow, R. Dillon; C. McKaigue (0-1), M. Craig, SL. McGoldrick; J. Conway, J. Diver; B. McGoldrick (0-1), M. Lynch (0-1), M. Bateson; C. O’Boyle (1-3, (2f)), P. Bradley (0-1, (1f)), C. Gilligan (0-3, (2f))
Subs: C.Kielt for B. McGoldrick (20), B. Doyle for Craig (30), C. Murray for Dillon (ht), E. Lynn for Gilligan (41), PJ McCloskey for Diver (58).
GALWAY: M. Breathnach; C. Forde, F. Hanley, K. Kelly; G. Bradshaw (1-1), J. Duane, G. O’Donnell; T. Flynn, F. Ó Curraoin; J. Ryan, P. Conroy, M. Hehir (0-3, (3f)); M. Martin (0-5, (2f)), N. Joyce (0-5 (1f)), D. Cummins
Subs: G. Sice for J. Ryan (ht), C. Kenny (0-1) for Conroy, J. Bergin for Hehir (61)
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)