Galway footballers quick to exploit moment of madness by McKinless

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IF there is one team building up a head of steam at just the right time in the All-Ireland senior football championship, it is undoubtedly Galway. You can’t beat momentum, and Padraic Joyce’s team have it in spades after maintaining the county’s perfect summer record against Derry at Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening.

And to think, just a month ago Galway stood on the brink of a shock defeat to Sligo in the Connacht semi-final, only for Damien Comer’s critical stoppage-time intervention. They haven’t looked back since; toughing it out a fortnight later to complete the provincial three-in-a-row when edging out Mayo in Salthill.

The emotion among players and management (and supporters) was not to be underestimated afterwards. Galway had been through the ringer for most of 2024 with a crippling casualty list and all the ensuing problems that caused, but they were still standing and as the likes of Shane Walsh and Matthew Tierney filtered back into the first 15, the men in maroon have caught fire.

Until their recent Ulster semi-final loss to Donegal, Derry were heading for Team of the Year status. They had gone to toe-to-toe in a triumphant league final clash with Dublin, but their house came crashing down when goalkeeper Odhran Lynch forgot that his basic job is to be between the posts when the other team is attacking.

Injuries have hampered Derry too, losing their entire half-back line for the trip to Pearse Stadium. That resulted in the break up of their sterling midfield partnership of Brendan Rogers and Conor Glass. They were still favourites to overcome Galway, and who knows what might have happened only for All-Star’s Gareth McKinless moment of madness in the 20th minute.

Not content to have unceremoniously halted Comer’s surge, McKinless then stamped on the Galway player’s Achilles tendon. It was a mean and nasty act, and the red card was automatic once the incident was spotted by officials. The dynamics of the contest was immediately changed, and the home team weren’t slow in taking advantage.

Pictured: Galway defender John Daly landing a first-half point against Derry’s Ethan Doherty during Saturday’s All-Ireland group qualifier at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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