Tribesmen going places after holding off old foes

Galway’s Paul Conroy and Fiontan O Curraoin battle for midfield possession with Mayo's Tom Parsons and Diarmuid O'Connor in Sunday's Connacht semi-final. Photo: Enda Noone.
Galway’s Paul Conroy and Fiontan O Curraoin battle for midfield possession with Mayo's Tom Parsons and Diarmuid O'Connor in Sunday's Connacht semi-final. Photo: Enda Noone.

Positioned beside the exit door of the home dressing room in Pearse Stadium is a sign written in white letters against a maroon background.

Above the Galway GAA crest, in large print, the ‘Team Galway’ sign reads: “PROUD of where we come from . . . BE PROUD in where we are going.”

Sunday’s one-point Connacht semi-final triumph over the old foes suggests that Galway are certainly going places.

Yes, they made hard work of it, and it was far from the perfect performance, and yet it was one Galway certainly could be proud of.

It is early days of championship yet. But as the dust settled on what was a high-intensity, exciting, and at-times excruciatingly tense, 70-plus minutes of football, it was difficult to escape the conclusion that these are two sides on different trajectories: Galway appear on the up, and Mayo are on the wane.

Of course, there have been plenty of premature obituaries written about this Mayo outfit in the past, and yet despite suffering agonising All-Ireland semi-final and final defeats, they continue to bounce back.

There is every reason to argue that this season will be no different, but logic tells us that you can only go to the well so many times before it dries up.

Mayo, still reeling from a bruising league and fall-out from last year’s All-Ireland draw and replayed loss to Dublin, needed the less circuitous route to the later stages of the competition, and will not relish once again entering the backdoor bearpit.

For Galway, Sunday’s 0-15 to 1-11 victory was as much an affirmation of last year’s success as it was about this year. In some quarters, Galway’s smash and grab win in Castlebar in 2016 was explained away as a one-off fluke – they raided the lion’s den and caught the home team on the hop.

The same accusation cannot be made this time round. Mayo threw the kitchen sink at Galway, and yet Stephen Rochford’s outfit still came up short.

The Galway camp afterwards talked down the significance of this encounter, and insisted it wasn’t going to define their season, regardless of the result. However, the reality is a loss would have been a big setback, and cast doubts over the progress made in winning the league and securing promotion to Division 1.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.