Galway 2-13 New York 0-12
New York represented themselves with no shortage of skill, quality and determination in their exciting Connacht Senior Football Championship opener with Galway on Sunday at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, but the men in blue will surely rue the two sendings off at a critical juncture of the game in the second period.
Make no doubt about it, Galway were there for the taking, and were is not for the cool head on the old shoulders of Padraig Joyce, who scored an impressive 1-6 on his return to inter county football, the Tribesmen could have been knocked out of the championship.
The exiles got off to the worst possible start when they conceded a goal to a sublime finish from Joyce, but rather than hang their heads and fold for another 15-20 point beating, New York fought back with tenacious audacity and no shortage of fotballing nous.
At 1-4 to 0-2 down the locals woke up and started playing football, crowding their visitors and picking off points on their own.
Halftime almost came too soon for New York as they held Galway scoreless for the final seven minutes, while tacking on three points of their own to leave the halftime score 1-5 to 0-7 to Galway.
In the second half, they kept in touch with Galway and a shock seemed a possibility,
However, the loss of two of their core players, Pat Madden from the midfield and John Murtagh form the half forward line, hari karied their chances of victory.
Madden was lucky to last as long as he did after doing more than enough in a 90 second spell midway through the first half – dropping Niall Coleman before dropping another man in maroon after the resulting throw in - to merit an early bath.
Just before the 50th minute he lost the head again and this time referee Maurice Condon sent him to the line.
John Murtagh picked up a yellow card just after the interval and a somewhat needless challenge on the sideline resulted in his dismissal in the 53rd minute, moments after producing one of the scores of the day from long range.
Had these two men not been sent off, who knows how the match would have ended.
One thing is for sure, Galway did not improve after the dismissals, they just kept their noses in front and only pulled away in injury time when New York went looking for the last minute goal to steal a win.
A what could have been for New York, and a what the hell was that kind of display for Galway, the 2010 All Ireland Football Championship got off to a far more exciting start that most would have anticipated.
It also went some way to justifying New York’s inclusion in the Championship.
This was no lambs to the slaughter effort, and the summer will tell if Galway, albeit without a sizeable contingent of players for this one, are that bad, or if New York have upped their game.
No doubt the New York players won’t be interested in the “putting pride back in the shirt” platitudes that might come their way, but instead of wandering wearily out of the dressing room after another thrashing, they can hold their heads up high in defeat and look to build on this close encounter.
And if it is any consolation, Galway manager Joe Kernan may have a few sleepless nights after witnessing the first impression his new team made in the heat of battle that is championship football.
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