THE Galway footballers are probably feeling a little unloved this week . . . a strange phenomenon for a group of players who have become the first team from the county to reach a senior semi-final since 2001.
Damien Comer and his colleagues had hardly put a foot wrong in a progressive season until coming a cropper in spectacular fashion against Monaghan at Pearse Stadium last Saturday evening.
Galway were off the pace in a fixture they didn’t have to, but surely wanted, to win. It is those extenuating circumstances we are clinging to as the men in maroon prepare for a mighty challenge that has proven beyond all teams for nearly four years.
Dublin’s shadow towers over the championship. They haven’t been beaten since falling to Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final on the last day of August in 2014. Brave Mayo came agonisingly close in both 2016 and last year, but still Jim Gavin’s charges powered on.
The Dubs have their sights set on what would be a magnificent four-in-a-row and it is Galway who have been left holding the short straw after suffering a demoralising 0-16 to 0-8 defeat against Monaghan in Salthill.
Those who felt that Galway weren’t nearly as good as their consistent run of positive results indicated throughout 2018 are likely feeling vindicated as the players and management try to pick up the pieces in time for a major crack at the champions.
With the Galway hurlers booking their place – the hard way – in the All-Ireland final the following afternoon, it probably darkened the mood of the footballers more. The odds have stretched on the prospects of an historic championship double and it’s nothing to do with David Burke and company.
Those of us who have spent time in dressing rooms know that arguably the greatest motivation of all is the prospect of retrieving reputations as quickly as possible . . . and that opportunity presents itself for Galway at Croke Park on Saturday evening (5pm).
Unfortunately, Kevin Walsh and his team are caught between a rock and a hard place now. They had become very difficult to beat due to their prioritising of a crowded defensive system until Monaghan rolled into town.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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