Joyce’s troops pull off stunning victory over champions


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Joyce’s troops pull off stunning victory over champions Joyce’s troops pull off stunning victory over champions

Galway 0-17

Dublin 0-16

By Pádraic Ó Ciardha at Croke Park

GALWAY footballers are All-Ireland semi-final bound after overcoming Dublin and blowing the race for Sam Maguire wide open thanks to a majestic, frenetic and historic performance in Croke Park last Saturday evening.

Despite reaching the All-Ireland final in 2022, this victory over an all-conquering Dublin side is surely the high point of Pádraic Joyce’s five years in charge to date and marks the Galway footballers greatest day on Jones’ Road since their current manager kicked them to their last All-Ireland crown 23 years ago.

Joyce was the undoubted star that day against Meath but last weekend’s win was built on monumental performances from a list of players that only grows longer upon reflection. The feeling beforehand was that Galway would have to be at their very best to overturn the Dubs and, nearly to a man, the players duly delivered performances to match any that they have produced in the maroon jersey before.

When Joyce raced onto the pitch after the final whistle, each step took him in the direction of someone who had made a significant contribution to the win.

The first man he pounced on was Tomo Culhane, whose 70th minute point proved to be the match-winner. The words Joyce had for the Salthill-Knocknacarra man as they spun around on the Croke Park turf remain between them but you can hazard a guess as to the content.

Culhane, who has been dogged with injuries for the guts of a year, came on as a sub in Galway’s two previous games and kicked a wide in each including a costly miss against Armagh but, on the biggest stage of all, he made no mistake to give Galway a vital two point cushion heading into added-time.

After a commiserative handshake with Dessie Farrell, the next Galway player Joyce made a beeline for was Shane Walsh, his stricken hero. The ice pack which slipped from Walsh’s right hamstring as the two embraced told part of the story with the talismanic forward having been forced off in the 65th minute with the game in the melting pot but Walsh had been near-faultless up to that juncture, kicking seven points in total in another superlative performance in Croke Park.

Next to cross paths with his manager was Johnny Heaney. Introduced from the bench with 20 minutes to go, it was Heaney who kicked Galway in front in the 67th minute, the first time they had taken the lead since the second minute.

Joyce might not have been so jovial had a late wide by Heaney proved costly but the impact Galway got from their bench, with Heaney, Culhane and the excellent Céin D’Arcy all contributing scores, proved to be the difference between the sides and highlighted the work Joyce and his management team have done to develop the squad over the last couple of years.

Pictured: Galway’s Matthew Tierney is at full stretch against James McCarthy of Dublin during the All-Ireland Senior Championship quarter-final at Croke Park on Saturday evening. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up