Beating Dublin and how they did it will be the making of Galway team

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was no silverware at stake at Croke Park on Saturday evening and Galway footballers still have two major hurdles to cross, but their momentous dethroning of All-Ireland champions Dublin will surely be the making of Padraic Joyce’s team.

In extending their unbeaten championship run to eight games, Galway produced their biggest performance of 2024 when the need was at its greatest. To put the Tribesmen’s achievement into perspective, it was only the second time in 13 years that the Dubs were beaten after leading at half-time.

A glorious second-half display turned the tide in magnificent fashion as Galway breathed badly needed fresh life into the race for Sam on an evening Cillian McDaid, Shane Walsh, Dylan McHugh, John Maher and Seán Mulkerrin headed the individual roll of honour for the Connacht champions.

In the wake of Galway’s seismic triumph, much focus has been on their first championship win over Dublin in 90 years, but this 0-17 to 0-16 quarter-final victory was only the second big summer clash between the counties since the infamous All-Ireland final of 1983, making that statistic bordering on irrelevance.

More importantly, what unfolded at Croke Park was one of those great occasions in the history of Galway GAA. Not alone did they overcome the sport’s dominant force – the Dubs have captured nine of the last 13 All-Ireland titles- but they did in a manner which left the men in maroon the talk of the country.

Trailing by 0-8 to 0-3 after 23 minutes, a somewhat tentative Galway were on the ropes as Dublin forced the pace, with their direct, incisive football quickly opening daylight between the teams. The champions were controlling the tempo of the exchanges and the decision to go fully locked and loaded from the off was paying dividends.

The much-decorated James McCarthy, Jack McCaffery and Paul Mannion were late call-ups as Dublin went for the quick kill. Initially, the tactic proved rewarding as they regularly opened gaps in the Galway defensive lines we hadn’t been used to seeing in 2024. Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny, Cormac Costello, Sean Bugler and Brian Fenton all raised white flags, fueling pre-match predictions of a comfortable win for Dessie Farrell’s troops.

Pictured: Galway’s Johnny Heaney celebrates kicking a crucial point in their narrow All-Ireland Senior Football semi-final victory over Dublin at Croke Park on Saturday. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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