GRITTY Galway deservedly claimed the scalp of an under-par Tyrone at Tuam Stadium yesterday afternoon, a result which immediately heaps the pressure on the visitors facing into an arduous Division One schedule.
Lacking penetration, poise and potency, the visitors were bereft of ideas as an attacking threat for much of a hard-fought if scrappy encounter and the fact they ended the match with just 12 players (Darren McCurry red carded, and Peter Harte and Michael McKernan both black carded in the closing stretch) merely compounded their misery on a day to forget.
Gangly midfielder Peter Cooke won the throw-in and released a quick ball inside to Damien Comer who muscled past Ronan McNamee and drilled low across Niall Morgan into the far corner of the net as Galway raced into an early lead.
The Tyrone full-back endured a sobering first quarter, before being eventually replaced on the 20 minute mark by Mark Bradley, which triggered a myriad of tactical adjustments in the visitors ranks.
Prior to that the confident Comer slotted over a point to cap a devastating Galway counter-attack and Shane Walsh stylishly swung over a 40 free from the ground.
Tiarnan McCann belatedly brought some much needed urgency to the Red Hand approach work when he drilled over a lovely score with the outside of the foot just before the quarter hour mark after bursting onto Niall Sludden’s pass.
The visitors though were living a charmed life at times at the other end. Only a superb point blank save by Niall Morgan denied Galway half-back Cathal Sweeney hitting the net, while a goal-line clearance from Connor McAliskey stopped the bustling Comer registering his second major of the afternoon.
Walsh’s close range free stretched the hosts five in front, their tigerish and tenacious approach making light of the underdogs tag they carried into the match.
Connor McAliskey planted a much needed score for Tyrone in the 24th minute but was hit hard by defender Eoghan Kerin as he pulled the trigger, a challenge which infuriated Darren McCurry who was red carded for taking retribution.
With Galway losing much of their early zip and cohesion in the closing stages of the half, Tyrone were able to establish a platform on which to build and a sharply taken Cathal McShane point left them trailing 1-3 to 0-3 at the break.
Eamon Branigan was twice on the mark, showing real conviction with his finishing instincts, and when Patrick Sweeney split the posts on the rebound after the impish Walsh struck the upright, Tyrone looked in real bother shortly after the restart.
This impression was underlined when Walsh popped over the score of the day with a sweet effort from fully 45m to ease Galway six clear 1-7 to 0-4 with 15 minutes remaining.
In fairness the visitors refused to throw in the towel and even down a man they threw the kitchen sink at Galway in the closing stages, with Peter Harte’s driving runs a productive outlet.
Wasteful with his frees in the first period, he found his radar after the break with a couple of efforts, while skipper Mattie Donnelly also registered.