FRANCIS FARRAGHER AT PEARSE STADIUM
SPORT at times can be a curiously mysterious affair . . . for threequarters of this tie, Galway stared full eyed at the spectre of relegation and yet 15 minutes later there was a whisper, albeit a very quiet one, of a promotion possibility.
The reality, in the wake of this encouraging Division 2 league win over Wexford on Sunday at Pearse Stadium, probably lies somewhere in between those bipolar positions with Galway likely to berth into a reasonably solid upper mid-table slot.
While no one will look at this success in terms of it being the ‘great elixir’, this was, in its own modest way, a steadying of the ship with a retacking of the sails, especially in the context of the really morale sapping defeat that Galway had endured a week previously against Laois.
There was a decent bit of heart in this Galway display and particularly gratifying was the powerful finish that Alan Mulholland’s side delivered, shooting 1-6 without reply in the closing 13 minutes of the game, a scoring salvo that put to bed any linger relegation fears. A few players also seemed to have regained a decent measure of confidence after undergoing various crises through the Spring.
Captain Finian Hanley turned in his best display of the league at full back highlighted by one second half fetch; Colin Forde also settled in well after a tough start; Gary Sice showed great drive through the second half; Fionntáin Ó Curraoin pulled off a few inspirational fetches in the centre, while confidence also bubbled again in the forward forays of Sean Armstrong and Danny Cummins.
Mind you, it had all looked a lot differently at half-time when Galway only led by 0-8 to 0-7 after playing with the aid of the East wind that blew in quite venomously from the Docks.
Surely this threadbare lead couldn’t be enough to see them through and already there was a sense of foreboding about an April trip to the heart of the North for a relegation joust with Armagh.
Galway introduced Eoin Concannon for Anthony Griffin at half-time with Paul Conroy switching to midfield, while just before the break Gareth Bradshaw had replaced the injured Johnny Duane.
Both Conroy and Bradshaw made important early second half contributions through well taken points that put Galway 10-7 ahead – they were scores that dramatically altered the overall balance of the match.
Although Wexford did subsequently enjoy a period of dominance that yielded them four points from Shane Roche, Ben Brosnan, Redmond Barry and PJ Banville to put them 11-10 ahead, the game now appeared to be headed for a dogfight of the ‘one point’ variety.
After Sean Armstrong pointed neatly from play to level the contest, the balance of the game was about to swing the way of Galway, and in quite spectacular style too, with just 12 minutes left on the clock.
For more, read 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.
Nightmare start spells the end for Galway U20’s
GALWAY’S dream of U20 All-Ireland glory was extinguished before it had an opportunity to catch fire in Longford on Saturday, as a physically imposing Dublin hit the Tribesmen for 2-1 in the opening six minutes of this All-Ireland semi-final to quench any hope of a victory for Padraic Joyce’s outfit.
To their credit, Galway did recover from this early setback and 11 minutes into the second half they had levelled up the game at 1-9 to 2-6. The momentum appeared to be with them.
However, so much energy and effort were expended in reeling the Dubs back in that when it came to furthering their challenge down the home straight, they had nothing left in the tank as the Dubs ran out 2-14 to 1-10 winners.
As keen as Dublin started the game, they finished the contest even stronger, outscoring Galway by eight points to one in the closing 20 minutes of action. The Connacht champions simply had no answer to the power, pace and brawn of an impressive Dublin side.
Had Galway not fallen victim to the start they had, could they have won this? That is difficult to say. Certainly, Joyce and his management team will take many learnings away from this, particularly in terms of their kickouts and the turnovers they needlessly coughed up.
Around the middle of the park, Galway, despite the best efforts of midfielder Matthias Barrett, were overpowered by three Dublin giants, namely midfielders Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne and Donal Ryan and centre-half forward Karl Lynch Bissett.
In addition to securing the majority of Dublin’s own kickouts, they also plundered a plethora of Galway’s; while the Dubs’ physicality in open play also caused a beleaguered Galway team a great deal of trouble for. Forced into numerous turnovers when distributing due to the pressure they came under, Galway were also stripped of possession in the tackle on too many occasions.
See full report and reaction in Connacht Tribune Sport.