Tribesmen leave Mourne needing to pop Cork

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Down 1-13 Galway 3-15

DOWN have it all to do and might need a few more favours after a disappointing defeat to Galway on Sunday.
While Galway were the better team for large periods, Down played into their hands both in performance and tactically by giving away cheap possession and by marking space in defence instead of assisting in attack.
Counter-attacking teams mostly rely on either a target man winning possession and laying it on or by attacking with supporting runs. With Down on Sunday the tactic was to kick long to an isolated Barry O'Hagan and leave him to fight for possession.
Even against 14 men and trailing by five points Down persisted on keeping men in defence marking no-one, and it did little to stop a rampant Galway, who won the midfield battle outright and had the power to plough through the Down defence. It was frustrating to see so many men back when Down needed scores, but Mourne manager Eamon Burns defended the tactics.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I suppose Galway are cute and they are good footballers and they use it quite well and the move the ball and they are strong in the tackle and bounce through the tackling with men coming off their shoulder," said Burns.
Once again kick outs were poor and this is something the Down management need to address. Be it lack of movement, poor kicking or being tactically na´ve Sunday's performance wasn't up to scratch yet still Down were level at half-time.
“I suppose kick outs are a two way street because you have the kicker and the receiver and if guys aren't moving for the kick out then you have problems," said Burns.
“We knew Galway were going to present problems as they kick long and into the field and we were going to have to compete and break for them and Kildare did the same the week before. But that is something we have to work on, we have what we have and we have got to make the most of it."
But it wasn't all bad, Barry O'Hagan's goal was a cracker, Ryan Johnston clipped over some sensational points and Peter Turley worked like a Trojan in the middle and if Down play to their attacking strengths they have a chance of beating Cork on Sunday.
Played in Pairc Esler Galway made the most of their wind advantage with Barry McHugh's 50-metre converted free and they doubled their lead before Darragh O'Hanlon got Down off the mark.
Both teams were without first choice full-backs as Benny McArdle replaced the injured Gerard McGovern and Declan Kyne came in for Galway's David Walsh.
Glenn's Shay Millar levelled the score but only briefly as Shane Walsh and the talented Gary Sice edged Galway ahead
Down continued to kick long into O'Hagan and he got little joy, but of course he only has to break through once to do the damage.
And with 19 minutes gone the sides were level again following two further points from Kilcoo's O'Hanlon.
Galway continued to have the ability to edge ahead each time but Ryan Johnston displayed buckets of determination as well as silky skill when he persisted despite being surrounded and squeezed over a stunning point.
Again Galway replied before Caolan Mooney popped over an excellent score. Galway were doing most of the attacking but Down were keeping with them and O'Hanlon's converted free gave the Mourne men the lead for the first time, for all of three minutes as Sice levelled the score for the fifth time with 32 minutes played.
David Wynne fisted over to put the Tribesmen ahead but Mooney drilled over a fine 40-metre score to level the score at the break.
Half-time: Down 0-08 Galway 0-08.
The feeling was that Down failed to grasp the chance to attack more frequently but were still in a good place to turn the game in their favour.
But that turned on its head within five minutes of the restart. Down keeper Michael Cunningham was harshly judged to foul Sice to not only give away a penalty but also a black card.
Marc Reid came on to face the penalty but Shane Walsh tucked it away perfectly. Five minutes later Walsh had the ball past Reid again and Down suddenly trailed by two goals.
On 44 minutes Kyne received a red card, to give Down a numerical advantage for 25 minutes.
Ryan Johnston started the fight back with a point and though Gary O'Donnell replied Down started to make inroads in the Galway defence.
Then on 49 minutes Barry O'Hagan caught Johnston's long ball, and after twisting and turning at the edge of the square he managed to squeeze the ball into the net.
There was a huge cheer from the crowd and as it was announced Jerome Johnston was coming into the action many sensed an opportunity to get something from the game.
But it didn't, keeper Rory Lavelle denied Ryan Johnston a certain goal before Conor Maginn, Shay Millar and Kevin Kernan kicked wide. Then Sice extended Galway's lead and momentum was lost.
Down defender Ryan McAleenan, who has had a great National League, was carded for giving away a penalty and Reid did will to stop the spot kick but Eamonn Brannigan followed up to drill into the net.
The game was up and Down didn't look like mounting a late rally.
Manager Eamonn Burns had no complaints about the result and felt it was a touch of deja vu from the defeat to Kildare.
“I thought we had a very strong first half. It was a bit like the Kildare game as shortly after half-time they opened the floodgates and we got a goal to get back into it," said Burns.
“It ebbed and flowed for a while but we couldn't real get that second goal that would get us back into the game. When we pushed on to them they seemed to open us up on the counter. And they finished the stronger side and probably deserved their victory on the day."
Down are a better team that what they showed on Sunday and while they don't need to abandon the defensive principles they do need to loosen the shackles when going forward if they are to get any joy against Cork.

 DOWN: M Cunningham; R McAleenan, B McArdle, D O'Hagan; D O'Hanlon, C McGovern, C Mooney; A Carr, P Turley; K McKernan, C Maginn, J Murphy; S Millar, B O'Hagan, R Johnston. Subs: M Reid for Cunningham (BC, 39), C Magee for Carr (47), J Johnston for Murphy (50), P Devlin for Millar (55), J Flynn for Mooney (BC, 70).

 Scorers for Down: D O'Hanlon 0-08 (5f), B O'Hagan 1-00, C Mooney 0-02, R Johnston 0-02, S Millar 0-01.

 GALWAY: R Lavelle; D Wynne, D Kyne, C Sweeney; G O'Donnell, M Farragher, J Heaney; P Conroy, F O Curraoin; T Flynn, S Walsh, E Brannigan; G Sice, B McHugh, S Armstrong. Subs: L Silke for Wynne (39), M Lundy for Armstrong (52), D Cummins for Walsh (68), G Bradshaw for McHugh (70), R Steede for Brannigan (70).

 Scorers for Galway: E Brannigan 2-01 (one pen), S Walsh 1-03, G Sice 0-03 (1f), B McHugh 0-03 (2f, one '45'), G O'Donnell 0-02, D Kyne 0-01, M Farragher 0-01, P Conroy 0-01 (f)

  Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).


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