It may not quite equate to an exorcism . . . but Galway senior footballer manager, Alan Mulholland’s charges will be looking to banish the demons of the humiliating Connacht championship exit to Mayo when they take on Tipperary in round one of the qualifiers at Pearse Stadium this coming Saturday (7pm).
Galway’s road to redemption following that 4-16 to 0-11 hiding in Salthill six weeks ago starts here. It mustn’t have been easy in the weeks following the Mayo debacle with the stinging criticism from the terraces and media still ringing in their ears but the Galway outfit – players and management – now have a shot at salvation, with their first opportunity to restore some pride in the maroon and white jersey.
Division Four team Tipperary, who are certainly no World beaters, were hockeyed by Kerry in the Munster championship a few weeks back, 2-19 to 0-8, and so their state of mind is probably as brittle as Galway’s and should be there for the taking . . . but there are few certainties in sport.
“Both teams are in a very fragile place . . . they’ve lost heavily in the first round against Kerry and we’ve suffered a heavy defeat. We know we’re going to have to perform 100% better than we did against Mayo, that’s what we have to do. It doesn’t really matter about the opposition, we’re not focussed on Tipperary. We have to focus on our own game . . . we have our own demons to overcome,” Mulholland told Tribune Sport yesterday.
Galway is familiar with the back-door route at this stage but it is still unchartered territory for them – it is the first time they’ve been paired in round one of the qualifiers.
Losing in round one and being out of the championship before July is unthinkable . . . but winning is definitely not a certainty either and it will depend wholly on how the players react when inside the four white lines come throw-in. It really will be a test of Galway’s character as Tipperary – who will hardly fear Galway – will throw everything at them.
Galway’s collective and individual state of mind mustn’t be in a great state at the minute and so a good start to boost confidence will be key on Saturday. Mulholland said that he has been impressed with the resolve of his players in training since the Mayo setback and that the six weeks’ break was welcome.
“It has been a long time, ordinarily you’d like to be playing sooner than six weeks after your last game but it was good that we had the six weeks. The lads returned to their clubs, which was good for them, and then we returned to training for the last few weeks. We’ve had a lot of stuff to work on and training has gone well since,” he said.
The defeat to Mayo will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Losing by 17 points to the arch rivals ranks it as Galway’s worst championship result in living memory. So how bad was the feeling in the camp afterwards – how deflated and demoralised were they?
“Look it, it was very disappointing; we were very disappointed. A lot of things went wrong and didn’t go our way. But I’ve been very pleased with the resolve that these guys have shown since. It was very hard and it could have gone any way after the Mayo game but the players have shown a resolve in training.
“It was disappointing against Mayo, it was bad, but we’re not dwelling on it, we have to move on, we have to put that behind us. We showed some good form this year in the league, and we had some good form last year and we’re just trying to get some form going,” he added.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Corofin hit the goal trail again in crushing Monivea/Abbey
WHILE it goes without saying that everyone is hugely thankful that sporting action has resumed and we still appear on course to complete a season, it is such a pity for the time being that only a handful of supporters are allowed the privilege to watch a team of Corofin’s class in full flight as they look destined to create history on their march to an eighth senior title in a row.
On a glorious day for football last Sunday, Corofin dismantled Monivea/Abbey in emphatic fashion, playing an electric brand of football that repeatedly cut holes in their opponent’s defensive alignment. Seven goals last time out against Oughterard, there could have been more again in Tuam Stadium but for some uncharacteristically sloppy finishing to rapier-like first half moves that left Brian Mulry’s side exposed.
It didn’t help that Cillian McDaid, Monivea/Abbey’s star turn, was an absentee, or that St. Bernard’s Connacht Junior Cup quarter final was scheduled for the same time, but Monivea/Abbey should still take a small shred of comfort from the fact that they competed well at times, created 19 scoring chances, and never dropped their heads despite the lost cause.
With no Connacht or All-Ireland club championship to have to try and peak for later in the year, Corofin look poised to lay down a serious marker on how far ahead of the pack they really are. New faces like Matthew Cooley and replacement Colin Kelly, who confidently netted two second-half goals on his debut, are being given their chance, while Ronan Steede, Martin Farragher, Bernard Power, and Daithí Burke were not required on this occasion.
Throw in the fact that Kevin O’Brien chose to keep Kieran Molloy and Gary Sice in reserve until deep into the second half and you start to seriously question whether any side in the county will be able to lay a glove on them this term. Ian Burke is motoring along nicely, Micheál Lundy appears revived back in a more attacking role, while veterans like Ciarán McGrath are haring around the pitch as if they have a point to prove.
Monivea/Abbey were lively all over the pitch early on and actually created one more scoring opportunity in the opening twelve minutes (5-4) but were unfortunately wasteful when it mattered and somehow found themselves trailing by 1-2 to 0-1.
Corofin’s movement and accuracy were already sublime, with Lundy, Burke, and Cooley lining up in an I formation down the middle of the attack and Darragh Silke offering himself as a highly effective link man in transition. Jason Leonard and Dylan Canney provided width when needed while the defensive Dylan’s, Wall and McHugh, tore forward when the chances arose.
Ian Burke’s sharp turn on eight minutes left Caelom Mulry in his wake, but when a goal looked likely Burke drove just over the bar. Three minutes later the dam broke when Lundy curled a pass into Cooley in space, and he picked out McHugh on the burst who slotted to the net at his ease.
A Brian Moran free registered Monivea/Abbey’s first score shortly after, but the die had already been cast. Jason Leonard drove over a ’45 after Burke had been denied by some last gasp defending before Canney clipped over a classy score where Lundy and Burke were involved again.
Extended report will appear in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway minor footballers stun Kerry in brilliant win
NOT many minor teams would have coped with the adversity and setbacks which stalked Galway’s championship summer, or much less end up looking forward to an All-Ireland final appearance in over a fortnight’s time.
Donal Ó Fatharta’s latest batch of minor footballers have had their mettle well and truly tested over the past couple of months, notably when falling twice in the provincial title race and also having to overcome a numerical disadvantage in a key match against a quality Sligo outfit.
The fact that Galway came through all those difficulties to contest last Sunday’s absorbing All-Ireland semi-final was a tribute to the squad’s character and resolve. Quite simply, this is a group of players wearing maroon jerseys who don’t know when to give up.
Having comfortably dispensed with Leinster champions Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final – Galway teams at all levels seem to have the Indian sign over the Lilywhites – they had clearly parked a heartbreaking extra-time loss to Mayo in the Connacht decider. It meant they headed to GAA headquarters in good fettle and no doubts about their bottle.
In the opposition corner, however, was a Kerry team trying to maintain the county’s push for an unprecedented sixth consecutive All-Ireland minor title. The Kingdom were also unbeaten in 34 matches at this level and were strong favourites to carry the day.
But the Galway players were both undaunted and ready for the challenge. They rose to the occasion in magnificent style and, pretty soon, it was evident that this was going to be no walk in the park for the highly-rated Kerry boys.
Galway thrived in the open spaces of Croke Park in producing their most accomplished display of the campaign.
Read full match coverage in Tribune Sport.
Corofin resume quest for seven-in-a-row
DUBLIN’S footballers may be going for the five-in-a-row, but Jim Gavin’s all-conquering charges would struggle to hold a candle to the team which continues to dominate Galway club football.
Corofin have had the odd close shave – notably last year’s drawn county final against Mountbellew/Moylough – but their shadow continues to tower over the Galway championship.
Kevin O’Brien’s troops are on the trail of a seventh county title on the trot in 2019 – a feat which would equal the achievements of St Grellan’s, Ballinasloe (1913 to ‘19) and Tuam Stars (1954 to ’60).
Corofin will also be aiming to stay on track for a record-breaking third consecutive All-Ireland title when resuming their championship campaign with a clash against Annaghdown at Tuam Stadium on Friday evening (7.30pm).
There are nine senior group ties down for this decision this weekend – two go ahead on Friday evening, with the rest taking place on Saturday, scheduling influenced by the Galway minors’ All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.
See full match previews in this week’s Connacht Tribune Sport.