Tralee may have provided the antidote on Saturday night but the poison that exists in Gaelic football isn’t going away on the basis of what transpired in Inniskeen yesterday.
Last week, Tipperary manager Liam Kearns spoke of the onus on county bosses to promote attractive football. It was evident that neither Kevin Walsh or Malachy O’Rourke received that memo. Turgid and laborious for long periods, this game bit as much as the cold in south Monaghan.
Who was the guiltier party? Entrenched Galway took their role as the away team that more seriously although Walsh insisted it took two to tango: “Sometimes you can have two teams with the same tactics and it doesn’t make nice viewing. But at the same time I don’t think somebody is going to come out and start doing silly stuff to try and entertain at the expense of their team. With the amount of work that goes into this now, people are pushing the rules to the limits to the areas where you can take it too – I’m not talking about physicality here, I’m talking about the rules.
“That’s life. If the opinion is that you just want to entertain then that’s fine too but you have to try and get results.”
A Johnny Heaney goal on the hour - Galway’s knack of scoring late three-pointers is becoming a regularity at this stage - was enough to keep them clear of the home side, who ate into the five-point difference but not enough to take a share of spoils.
Galway, ravaged by injuries and club-tied players, returned home satisfied they had bounced back from their tanking by Dublin eight days previous. It didn’t look that way in the opening quarter. Despite playing with the aid of a wind, they didn’t score until the 20th minute and kicked seven first-half wides as well as dropping two shots short. All the same, they threatened the Monaghan goal on three occasions.
Pádraig Cunningham appeared to be fouled as he closed in for a shot in the 13th minute. Rory Beggan denied Shane Walsh a goalbound attempt on the half-hour mark after a driving Kieran Duggan run and David Wynne blazed wide when put through by Walsh four minutes later.
Monaghan had the most clearcut goal opportunity in that period, Ruairí Lavelle doing well to deflect Dessie Ward’s strike out for a 45 after Darren Hughes and Ryan McAnespie combined to tee him up.
After three converted frees inside the opening three minutes, Monaghan remained ahead for the remainder of the half but it wasn’t until the 28th minute that they posted their first point from play, Vinny Corey intercepting a Gareth Bradshaw pass which was intended for Peter Cooke.
By that stage, Galway’s Walsh had sparked to life, kicking over a point either side of that assist for Wynne. He added a free in additional time following a successful Darren Hughes effort but even going into the break just 0-5 to 0-4 down they didn’t look like winners.
Yet they were level four minutes into the second half and Cunningham availed of some good overlap play to push them ahead in the 48th minute. Twice they jumped into a two-point lead, the latter instance when substitute Michael Daly fired over with his first piece of action, as Monaghan were struggling to find their range.
Heaney’s score effectively left Monaghan with too much to do. Again, Walsh was involved, kicking a quick free short towards Antoine Ó Laoí.
Two Monaghan defenders pounced to intervene only to leave the ball for Ó Laoí who kicked the ball onto Danny Cummins and he was able to lay it off for the onrushing Heaney.
Galway didn’t score for the remaining 15 minutes but they didn’t need to. The five-point advantage was cut to three when Beggan followed Conor McManus’ example and booted over a free. In additional time, Hughes fisted a point and Beggan was again on the money with a 45.
With almost the lack kick, McManus did have a low percentage chance to level it but was unable to convert.
“The intention was to go out in the second half and really go at it and drive on but Galway started the second half well and got a few good scores and it made it that wee bit harder to break them down,” said O’Rourke. “We had our chances but just didn’t take them. It’s a disappointing one for us, you always want to win your home games but we just have to regroup and look to see where we can improve.”
Scorers for Monaghan: C McManus (0-4, 3 frees); J McCarron (frees), D Hughes, R Beggan (1 free, 1 45) (0-2 each); V Corey (0-1).
Scorers for Galway: S Walsh (0-5, 3 frees); J Heaney (1-0); J Duane, A Ó Laoí, P Cunningham, M Daly (0-1 each).
MONAGHAN: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, R Wylie; V Corey, B Kerr, C Walshe (c); D Hughes, F Kelly; R McAnespie, J McCarron, S Carey; D Malone, D Ward, C McManus.
Subs for Monaghan: N McAdam for Kelly (inj 8); C McCarthy for McCarron (46); D Mone for McAdam (53); O Duffy for McAnespie (57); D Garland for Duffy (inj 62);
GALWAY: R Lavelle; E Kerin, S Kelly, D Wynne; G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, J Daly; T Flynn, K Duggan; J Heaney, J Duane, P Cooke; S Walsh, P Cunningham, A Ó Laoi.
Subs for Galway: D Cummins for Cunningham (56); M Daly for Cooke (57); B McHugh for Duane (60); C D’Arcy for Ó Laoí (70+4).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).