THE cheers of the Roscommon fans were echoing around the tunnel underneath the stand at Pearse Stadium as Galway players walked silently back into their dressingroom with only the thought of at least one more day out to console them.
It wasn’t the scene they anticipated to be walking into shortly after 3.30pm on Sunday – and neither did their fans in the crowd of 18,287, expect to be talking about a 4A qualifiers tie against Donegal on Saturday week next in Sligo.
In the space of 90 minutes, Galway’s hopes of at least making it through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals and possibly semi-finals had been shattered by a Roscommon team who had waited many’s the long day for a moment like this to arrive.
At least Galway have a little extra recovery time to try and pick up the many broken pieces of a championship campaign that had promised a lot after their Division 2 league success and the semi-final defeat of Mayo – in sport you’re always only one game away from either ecstasy or catastrophe.
It was a defeat of equal devastation to last year’s quarter-final collapse against Tipperary, but at least this time around there is the second chance of the Donegal match – if Galway win that 4A final qualifier, they will then be squaring up to Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park on the weekend of July 29/30.
Quite definitely, not a route that offers any real prospect of advancement but Galway won’t be worrying about Kerry over the next week and a half – somehow or another, they have to try and circle the wagons and find a performance against Donegal.
World beaters Donegal might not be, but then neither are Galway. The prize of a quarter-final clash against Kerry in Croke Park might be a slightly dubious one, but it does offer the prospect of at least one big game at headquarters. At this stage, for Galway, it’s all about consolation prizes.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.