THE icy gale that blew down from the Arctic at Salthill on Sunday still wasn’t enough to cool the hot bloods of Galway and Dublin in this top-of-the-table Division 1 clash at Pearse Stadium as two of the oldest rivals in the game shared the spoils after a fiercely competitive and sometimes fiery encounter.
This is what Division 1 football is all about: the All-Ireland champions in town; a crowd of over 10,000 people to provide the required atmosphere; and a match that was highly charged all through, complemented by a nail-biting finish.
In the end, Galway might have had to rely on a 79th minute Johnny Heaney equaliser to snatch the draw, but on balance over the entire course of the match, the home side probably should have come away with a win, given their defensive solidity and chance creation ratio.
There was though a lot of satisfaction to be garnered from Galway’s overall display. They might have started out with a number of key players rested, including captain Damien Comer, but they tore into Dublin with a determination and composure that greatly unsettled the All-Ireland champions.
Twice in the first half and once early in the second period, Galway created gilt-edged goal chances and while the first two did at least yield points, if the net had been hit from even one of those three opportunities, it probably would have been enough to put Dublin away.
The consolation for Galway is that they are creating chances and their point conversion rate in the first half — ten scores over the 35 minutes — was pretty impressive, even if they were aided by the near goal blowing towards the Prairie end of the pitch.
Kevin Walsh has Galway well set up at present. They are defending systematically and often en-bloc but the sharp edge of their sword is provided in the super-quick counter attacks that are proving to be highly effective when the opposition thrusts break down.
Dublin, like Galway, had done a lot of team re-jigging before the throw-in, but given the strength in-depth of their panel, they are in a far stronger position than any other county to slot in replacements almost as good as the first fifteen.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.