Galway withstand Offaly second half comeback

November 8, 2018

Galway are into their first Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship final after they edged past Offaly by 3-17 to 2-18 in their semi-final replay at Portlaoise on Saturday evening.

Leading by eight points at half-time, Galway looked to be cruising but Offaly came back at them with a heavy onslaught and with six minutes left the Faithful County had moved into the lead for the first time.

Ultimately however, Galway dup deep and points in injury time from Joe Canning and Ger Farragher gave them victory in this absorbing encounter.

The conventional wisdom was that the game would fail to live up to the heights of last week’s game at Croke Park, and early on, that seemed to be the case. Galway, with John Lee, Eanna Ryan and Andy Smith all starting despite not being initially named, powered into a 1-5 to 0-2 lead inside the opening 20 minutes, Aengus Callanan with their goal.

Despite playing with the wind, Offaly could no take advantage as they shot numerous wides, while the Galway defence, led by Ollie Canning, looked in mean form. Captain Brian Carroll was leading the Offaly charge, but when Joe Canning found the net around the half-hour, after a clearance from his brother broke, Galway led by 2-7 to 0-4.

By half-time, Offaly had reduced the gap slightly, trailing by 2-9 to 0-7, and though Farragher’s long-range free restored the nine-point lead for Galway immediately after the restart, Offaly began to find some momentum.

Sub Ger Healion scored with his first touch, and shortly after he found the net when his lobbed shot deceived Galway goalkeeper Colm Callanan to make it 2-11 to 1-9 and when Shane Dooley pointed a free three minutes later, it was 2-12 to 1-12.

Canning and Dooley then exchanged points before Damien Hayes looked to have knocked the stuffing out of Offaly, firing to the net after Niall Healy was hooked.

Just like last week, though, Offaly would not go away and their cause was helped when Galway’s David Burke was shown a red card for retaliating after being fouled.

Aided by having the extra man, Offaly scored 1-2 without replay, Joe Bergin levelling with 10 minutes left when he won a clearance and fashioned an opening before rifling the ball past Callanan to make it 3-13 to 2-16.

While Galway seemed unable to get a score, Offaly could not find the lead, missing some chances, though Dooley finally made the breakthrough with a great effort from out on the right sideline to put them ahead for the first time.

Two Farragher frees gave Galway the lead again though, but when Dooley pointed from halfway in the final minute of normal time, the game looked to be heading for extra time.

But, in the two added minutes, Galway had the edge, and Canning put them ahead before Farragher rubberstamped their progress with a free from his own 45 to set up a meeting in the decider with Kilkenny

SCORERS — Galway: D Hayes 2-3, G Farragher 0-7 (0-5f), J Canning 1-2, I Tannian 0-3, A Smith and D Barry 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 0-10 (0-6f, 0-2 ’65s’), G Healion, J Bergin 1-1 each, B Carroll 0-3, B Murphy 0-2, D Kenny 0-1.

GALWAY — C Callanan D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning, D Barry, T Og Regan, J Lee, G Farragher, D Burke, A Smith, A Callanan, E Ryan, J Canning, D Hayes, I Tannian. Subs: N Healy for Ryan (46 mins), J Gantley for Healy (60), A Cullinane for Smith (66).

OFFALY — J Dempsey, D Franks, D Kenny, S Egan; J Rigney, P Cleary, D Morkan, R Hanniffy, D Hayden, B Carroll, J Brady, K Brady, S Dooley, J Bergin, B Murphy. Subs: M Verney for Franks (6), Franks for Verney (11), Verney for Egan (41), C Parlon for Kenny (53), O Kealey for K Brady (63).

Ref — C McAllister Cork