Inside Track with John McIntyre
HINDSIGHT can be a real eye-opener at times, but the reputation of the Galway footballers ahead of last Sunday’s Connacht final against Roscommon at Pearse Stadium was still inflated . . . and a little puzzling. Few locals expected them to be seriously tested never mind being beaten.
Knocked out by minnows Tipperary in last year’s championship and hanging on for dear life against a sterile Mayo a few weeks ago, Galway were clearly far from bombproof as their methodical progress under Kevin Walsh was shown to be built on rocky foundations by hungrier foes who were not flattered by a victory margin of nine points.
Having achieved promotion to Division One with Roscommon, plagued by off-field negativity and on-field struggles, heading in the opposite direction, and having survived Mayo’s late onslaught, confidence and energy shouldn’t have been in short supply in Salthill, but Galway didn’t come out of the traps and were devoid of leadership and resolve when trying to bail themselves out of trouble.
There was no conviction or the necessary teamwork or guile in their laboured display and failing to score over the closing 24 minutes when backed by the wind underlines how much Galway lost their way at a time they ought to have been pushing on. Having reduced an interval deficit of 1-7 to 0-3 to three points, they had got back into the contest only to implode in the final quarter.
Finishing with 13 men after the injury-time dismissals of Micheál Lundy and Damien Comer only rubbed salt into Galway’s wounds, leaving the camp facing a major challenge to clear their heads and lift morale in time for their upcoming qualifier clash against Donegal – and there’s a team which stirs up bad memories for the Tribesmen.
Perhaps, there was complacency in Galway’s ranks, but that doesn’t explain why they lost most of the key battles, notably around midfield, against an Enda Smith inspired Roscommon. They only managed a solitary point from play via the hard-trying Shane Walsh in the first-half and were really fortunate to be only seven points behind at the break as Roscommon hit seven wides on the trot after storming into a 1-6 to 0-2 lead after just 14 minutes.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.