Tyrone moved their championship challenge into fifth gear in front of 28,712 at Croke Park this afternoon, as Mickey Harte's charges showed their intent with a 1-16 to 0-11 victory, closing out the game in fine style. An eight-point win could have been much more for the All-Ireland champions had they not hit 14 wides to Galway's four but another searing final half hour saw them through.
Having scored ten of the final 12 points against Down two weeks ago and nine of the final 12 against Fermanagh in the Ulster championship last month, Tyrone again hit the hieghts late today, with eight of the final ten scores. Brian McGuigan’s twelfth minute goal was essentially the difference between the sides at half-time but despite late Tyrone dominance, six wasteful wides from the champions, including four in the final five minutes, saw Galway just two points down at the break.
The 2001 champions would have been in front had Derek Savage not miscued a 26th minute penalty chance, won brilliantly by Padraic Joyce. Left full-forward Savage grabbed a first minute free to open the scoring, followed five minutes later by a Stephen O’Neill free.
Milltown forward John Devane, who had earlier put in a great block down on Michael Coleman – a late call-up for the injured Mark Harte, pointed well after a Padraic Joyce run and though Galway went 0-03 to 0-01 with Michael Donnellan’s effort from his own rebounded ’45, Tyrone soon came into their own. O’Neill stroked over his second before punching a giant hole in the Galway defence with a clever hand pass for the goal.
An Owen Mulligan knock down saw O’Neill free up McGuigan and a quick shimmy past Paul Clancy put him in range for a low right-footed rive beyond Brian O’Donoghue to the Galway net. Mulligan dug out two subsequent points for a 1-04 to 0-04 lead, with Padraic Joyce and Savage limited to frees. Galway then enjoyed a period of dominance, but Matthew Clancy, put through on goal by Joyce, shot wide with a flick from the outside of his left boot.
Three minutes later another Joyce field saw Conor Gormley cough up a penalty but Savage contrived to stub his spot kick with Paschal McConnell clearing. The Red Hands immediately went down the other end for midfielder Sean Cavanagh to fist off the crossbar and over and began the second half in determined fashion with Mulligan claiming two early points (1f).
Then, in the space of two minutes, two more goal chances were spurned. First O’Neill blazed high and wide when put through by Mulligan and Killererin marksman Joyce accelerated past the Tyrone rearguard to smash again the butt of McConnell’s right post. Nicky Joyce, Padraic Joyce and Sean O Domhnaill did enough to bring Galway back within a single point by the 53rd minute and summon the great Peter Canavan off Mickey Harte’s bench.
But just as soon as Galway were back in the hunt, Canavan inspired Tyrone to five straight scores. With his first touch on 57 minutes, he left-footed over from distance. Mulligan, with his fifth, Cavanagh, O'Neill (1f) and Dooher were also on target as the game went away from John O'Mahony's men.
O'Neill, Cavanagh again and half backs Philip Jordan and Shane Sweeney put the issue beyond doubt with late scores, with Galway's replies coming from Tommy Joyce and Caltra skipper Tomas Meehan.