Galway set their stall out for the summer with a convincing 3-15 to 0-10 win over a poor Roscommon side in their Connacht championship opener at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday.
The Tribesmen were full value for their 14-point win, and manager Alan Mulholland was delighted with their direct style of football.
“If you look through the scores we got, most of them probably would have come from a direct ball from the full-forward line. That is what we are trying to do,” the Galway boss told RTE afterwards.
“To be honest a lot of the teams are trying to do that but it is difficult when teams are trying to put three or four in front of that full-back line.
“We want to do that. If we are able, we will try to do it and if the other teams do not let us do it, we have to find a plan B.”
Michael Meehan and Padraig Joyce both made their championship comebacks as substitutes after recent injuries, another pleasing factor for Mulholland.
“We were struggling a bit in the middle third of the game and the older and experienced guys settled us down a bit, like Michael Meehan and Padraig Joyce. That was great for us to have those guys on the bench,” he added.
“We’ve done well today but Sligo in the semis are going to be a totally different opposition.”
Midfielder Joe Bergin also praised Meehan afterwards. Bergin said, “Nine out of 10 guys would have thrown their hats at it, between the ankle, the shoulder and all the rest.
“But it shows the resolve of this guy -- he loves football, he loves Galway and you could hear the cheer from the crowd when he came on.”
A realistic Roscommon manager Des Newton admitted to his team’s problems after their annihilation.
Newton said, “I was surprised by the performance. Overall we did not show the desire required to make a game of it today.
“Galway showed all of the desire out there. But I am not going to blame any of the players in the dressingroom.
“They have all given me everything over the last six months and sometimes you have days like this.
“I hold my hand up and take responsibility for it. We’ll have a look at our role in the management and selection of the team and so on.”
The qualifiers are next for Roscommon. Newton added, “There has been lots of other teams that have taken beatings just as bad as this and have come from them. What we do next is the most important thing now.”
LOUTH captain Paddy Keenan admitted his team were lucky to beat Westmeath in such dramatic fashion in Navan on Sunday when a last gasp Danny O’Connor goal five minutes into added time secured a narrow 2-9 to 0-14 win.
“The second half was pretty bad from our point of view, and we just got out of jail there really,” said Keenan after his team had booked a Leinster quarterfinal date with Dublin.
“It’s not too often that Louth come out of a tight game like that with a last-minute goal or point to win a game. We’ll take it but you can’t paper over the cracks; there were an awful lot of things we did wrong and an awful lot of things we’ve to work on, so we’ll not get too carried away.”
Goal scorer O’Connor admitted he was lucky to hit the ball, never mind the target.
“The ball just broke and I threw a leg at it, lucky enough it crawled in,” said the 21-year-old after his debut goal.
“It was brilliant, yeah, the stuff of dreams. We mightn’t have deserved to win but it’s the never-say-die attitude that we’ve spoken about the last few weeks in training.”
Westmeath manager Pat Flanagan was in shock afterwards. “It is very, very difficult,” he said.
“It is extremely difficult when you consider that this team is only developing. We have new players from last year and we’ve lost all of the older players. We worked extremely hard to stay in Division 2 and we got that.
“The whole emphasis then turned to this match and making sure we got the win. I can’t fault the boys, they played exceptionally well.
“Now we have to see if we can pick the boys up and get a few games in the qualifiers.”
DONEGAL opened their defense of the Ulster SFC crown with a 1-16 to 1-10 win over Cavan on Sunday, but manager Jim McGuinness was far from pleased with elements of the performance.
“There were a lot of things in the second half that we weren’t happy about,” said McGuinness afterwards.
“We weren’t ruthless. With 20 minutes to go, there was a challenge match feel about it. That last for a period of about five minutes, then Cavan came back into it.
“We were ponderous on the ball. We had opportunities to do things and we weren’t clinical.
“The other side of the coin is that it’s the 20th of May. It’s our first day out and it’s early in the season.
“There are always a bit of nerves and jitters on the first day out. It’s good to get a game under our belt and now we have a home tie in the next round.”
Cavan boss Terry Hyland admitted his young team had no answer to Donegal’s power
He told reporters, “They come at you in waves of two and threes. To stop that, you need to be pretty physical and we are not at that stage of physical development yet.
“I suppose you have to put it down to the learning curve. We had a young squad out. The second half performance wasn’t that bad. Our shot selection was probably a bit off. That’s the thing we have to work on, but that’s one of those things that comes with experience.”
LONGFORD were the big winners on the first weekend of championship action on Irish soil as Glenn Ryan’s team shocked Laois despite losing by six points at halftime.
A second half goal from the impressive Paul Barden proved crucial as Longford pulled off a shock Leinster SFC win by a score of 1-10 to 0-12, their first against Laois since 1968.
“The goal was crucial. It gave us a lifeline, an opportunity to go on and win the game. Against Wexford in the league final, we built up a good lead and managed to hold on. Today, it was the opposite,” said boss Ryan.
“Overall, we played poorly, we turned in our worst performance of the year for the most important match that we’ve have played up to now. In saying that, Laois were the best team we have faced this year, with the possible exception of Wexford and Sligo.
“It was a huge effort on our part to get the win today. I’m delighted for the players, as they have suffered a few unfortunate defeats in the last few years.”
Laois manager Justin McNulty was critical of referee Michael Duffy.
“I think there were a few hometown decisions during the game which is always going to happen in championship,” claimed McNulty. “It’s something you have to deal with and you have to beat the referee as well.”
“The goal was crucial for them. When it looked like they were dead and buried the goal gave them the confidence to come back. Probably the biggest factor was that they took their chances and we didn’t. Simple as that.”
LIMERICK turned on the power in the second half to defeat Waterford in their Munster SFC opener at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday by a score of 2-12 to 0-7.
“We lost the first round of the Munster championship last year to Kerry so we’re happy in that sense to have won this,” said Limerick boss Maurice Horan afterwards.
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