Sure, Kildare carried the fight to Galway in the final 15 minutes and spent much of the closing stages camped deep in their opponents half. Sub Cathal McNally earned a penalty just shy of the 70-minute mark, while Daniel Flynn netted an injury-time goal. Mere consolation, however.
This league fixture and, indeed, Kildare’s fate had been decided long before the Kildare substitute rolled the ball past Galway ‘keeper Manus Breathnach, long before Mikey Conway hit the post from penalty spot.
Where was the Kildare response to Shane Walsh’s goal on 23 minutes? Galway added four points in quick succession thereafter to establish a six-point interval advantage.
Where was the Kildare response to Fiontán Ó Curraoin’s goal strike on 47 minutes? Instead, the visitors allowed Galway work possession unchallenged from one end of the field to the other to register goal number three.
It was only when the contest was beyond them did Kildare decide to roll up their sleeves.
“We are all very disappointed,” said Lilywhites boss Jason Ryan.
“We are going to have a few tough days ahead of ourselves. It has been a tough number of weeks for everybody involved. We can’t do anything about what has happened, what we have to do is improve what goes on over the next few months.
“I am often a critic of the time between league and championship. This time, I am happy to have the nine weeks. It gives us a chance to regroup for this was a very disappointing result.”
Long-range beauties from the boot of Gary White (0-2), Paul Cribbin, Padraig Fogarty, Alan Smith and Eamonn Callaghan had Kildare in front for much of the opening half, but this was more due to Galway wastefulness than Kildare enterprise.
The home outfit squandered three early goal chances — Kildare ‘keeper Mark Donnellan producing superb saves to deny Sean Denvir and Shane Walsh, Patrick Sweeney then kicking wide with no-one to beat.
On 23 minutes, the net finally shook. Patrick Sweeney, Gary Sice and Peadar Óg O Griofa were at the centre of a flowing move that ended with a rasping Shane Walsh drive. The green flag edged Galway 1-6 to 0-6 clear and they moved further out of sight with points from O Griofa (two frees), Gary Sice and Conroy (free).
Trailing by 1-10 to 0-7 at the break, Kildare desperately required a positive opening to the second period and they duly obliged with white flags from Eoghan O’Flaherty (free), Alan Smith and Daniel Flynn to cut the gap to three. Their revival effort was halted, however, on 47 minutes as Fiontán Ó Curraoin pounced for Galway’s second goal.
Walsh’s booming sideline kick was flicked off the post by sub Damien Comer, the ball rebounded to Ó Curraoin and he buried.
The Tribesmen netted their third on 58 minutes to preserve their Division 2 status, Walsh on hand to register his second. The score stemmed from a terrific save at the other from ‘keeper Manus Breathnach to deny Cathal McNally.
Reflected Galway manager Kevin Walsh: “The last two games were almost championship games because our backs were to the wall, they were pressure games. We pulled through in each and that sets us up nicely for our championship opener in four weeks.”
S Walsh (2-1), F Ó Curraoin (1-1); P Óg O Griofa (0-4, 0-3 frees); P Conroy (0-3, 0-3 frees); M Breathnach (0-1 ’45), G Sice, P Sweeney (0-1 each).
D Flynn (1-1); G White, M Conway (0-2 frees), P Cribbin, A Smith (0-2 each); E O’Flaherty (0-1 free), P Fogarty, E Callaghan (0-1 each).
M Breathnach; J Duane, F Hanley, C Sweeney; P Varley, G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell; F Ó Curraoin, P Conroy; G Sice, S Walsh, S Denvir; P Óg O Griofa, P Sweeney, M Lundy.
L Silke for Bradshaw (40 mins, inj), D Comer for P Sweeney (45, inj), A Varley for Comer (54, inj), C Healy for O Griofa (59), E Hoare for Denvir (73).
M Donnellan; O Lyons, C Fitzpatrick, M O’Grady; P Kelly, F Conway, E Bolton; G White, P Cribbin; K Cribbin, E O’Flaherty, F Dowling; E Callaghan, P Fogarty, A Smith.
D Hyland for Fitzpatrick (HT), D Flynn for Fogarty (HT), T Moolick for White (50), C McNally for Callaghan (55), M Conway for O’Flaherty (59), G Farrell for K Cribbin (68).
S Hurson (Tyrone).