RIGHT from the start of this Connacht football semi-final clash at Pearse Stadium on Sunday it was obvious that a huge chasm existed between the sides in terms of pace, teamwork and focus — when eventually referee Noel Mooney sounded the final whistle, it was nearly a relief to all parties involved.
Before the match started, there was the odd notion doing the rounds that Sligo might provide a stiffer challenge than some observers anticipated, but midway through the first half when Galway led by 0-8 to 0-1, all the ‘sorting out’ had been done.
In the cold light of day this was a clash between a team who topped the Division 1 league table against a side from the bottom segment of the third tier, and while Sligo did toil hard and honestly, they never came near making this even a modestly competitive tie.
Against Mayo, Kevin Walsh’s side had come through a ruggedly defensive showdown but last Sunday when more space opened up for the forwards in the wider expanses of Pearse Stadium, they delivered quite a slick display of incisive attacking football.
And while no Galway follower will get carried away with a 21-point victory over Sligo, they will take a certain quiet satisfaction at the clinical nature of the victory and also with some of their high tempo attacking sorties.
Sligo brought back midfielder Kevin McDonnell to try and cope with the threat of Galway captain Damien Comer, but it was to be a futile strategy with the Annaghdown clubman the focal point of many of his side’s early attacks before firing home two late goals.
Comer is a powerful piece of dynamite in the Galway attack with his package of physical strength, scoring power and blistering pace making him a hugely difficult player to contain — he was the outstanding player on view.
Galway though were dominant all over the pitch. Seán Kelly was rampant along the left flank of both defence and attack; Tom Flynn fetched well and delivered accurately from midfield; while up front Comer was ably supported by all five of his attacking division in Eamonn Brannigan, Shane Walsh, Johnny Heaney, Ian Burke and Barry McHugh.
At times though, it was a bit too much like the game in the backgarden. Players like Eamonn Brannigan just looked at their opponents in the eye, sped past them at pace, and then popped the ball over the bar. The Sligo defence just couldn’t cope with the speed of the Galway attack.
Full match report in this week’s Connacht Tribune