WHEN THEY LAST MET: Galway’s Paul Conroy (right) holds off Conor Glass of Derry in the 2022 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final. PHOTO: RAY RYAN


Pearse Stadium hosts visit of Division 1 leaders

THE Galway footballers departed Healy Park, Omagh late on Sunday afternoon feeling a lot better about life.

Their reaction to an underwhelming opening day performance against Mayo has been to take three points from a possible four on the road with a draw in Roscommon followed up by a slender victory over Tyrone.

Cathal Sweeney's third quarter goal was the centrepiece of a 1-10 to 0-12 victory that made it four wins on the bounce versus Tyrone under Padraic Joyce. Rob Finnerty chipped in with four points on a day when Johnny Heaney was the standout player on view, and captain Sean Kelly made his first appearance since Maigh Cuilinn's county semi-final win over Mountbellew-Moylough in October. On the downside, however, the departures of Paul Conroy and Matthew Tierney added to an already extensive injury list.

Galway have four matches left in their Division 1 campaign - Derry and Dublin at home, Monaghan and Kerry away - with two or possibly three more points still required to cement their place in the top-flight for 2025.

Peter Harte and Kieran McGeary returned for Tyrone, but there was still an inexperienced look to their line-up with Ronan McNamee and Niall Sludden now retired and fellow All-Ireland winners Mattie Donnelly, Conor Meyler, Frank Burns, Michael O’Neill, Darren McCurry and Cathal McShane absent.

That understrength description won't apply to Derry who have been fielding strong this campaign with Division 1 silverware clearly a target. After new boss Mickey Harte's now customary Dr. MacKenna Cup success, the Oak Leaf County boast a perfect record so far in 2024 with a statement win in Kerry followed up by victories over Ulster rivals Tyrone and Monaghan...

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