What Galway have to do at Croker on Sunday is anything but simple!

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE problem with knocking champions Dublin out of the hunt for All-Ireland glory is that expectations suddenly go through the roof for their conquerors. What had been a slow-burning campaign for the Galway footballers has finally taken off, but now Padraic Joyce’s team must back up that great performance.

There is no point in ending the All-Ireland hopes of Gaelic football’s dominant force over the past decade for some other county’s benefit. Galway did it the hard way too, having fallen five points behind in the first-half. Dublin were controlling the tempo of the quarter-final and the Connacht champions were struggling to hang on.

Galway had to raise their game and they weren’t found wanting. Cillian McDaid took the bull by the horns; Dylan McHugh and Johnny McGrath continued their terrific summer form; Seán Mulkerrin typified their defiance; while Shane Walsh – almost down to one leg – finished an absorbing contest with seven points to his credit.

You also had the likes of John Maher running himself into the ground; Tomo Culhane exorcising his late miss against Armagh with what proved the match-winner; together with a major impact from the substitutes bench as Cein D’Arcy and Johnny Heaney left their mark on the scoreboard too. And we can’t forget Galway’s long-serving midfield general Paul Conroy. He missed a couple of chances, but kept pulling the trigger.

It was a great day for Galway football and showed what the team is capable of, but nobody in the camp needs to be told that every game is different. The challenge for both management and players is to get back in the zone for Sunday’s semi-final battle with high-flying Donegal. The bookies nearly have it a 50/50 game and that’s how we see it too.

The word on the ground suggests Galway’s injury woes, which have dogged them all season, are almost cleared up, though there remain concerns about the form of team captain, Seán Kelly. McDaid, Walsh, and Damien Comer started a game for the first time together this year against Dublin and that experience can only have sharpened them up.

Pictured: Galway’s long-serving Paul Conroy on the ball against Frankie McGlynn of Donegal during a National League tie in February of 2014 at Pearse Stadium. The counties’ clash in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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