The Galway senior footballers will be heading to Hyde Park on Sunday week to take on Kevin McStay’s Roscommon in the 2018 Connacht football final (4pm ) after hammering a disappointing Sligo by 21 points (4-24 to 1-12 ) at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.
Roscommon are not to be taken lightly.
They were promoted to division one earlier this year and they are the reigning provincial champions, having defeated Galway by 2-15 to 0-12 in last year’s final at Pearse Stadium before going down to Mayo in a replay in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
That said, Galway appear to be a different proposition this year to last. Kevin Walsh and his management team have their charges purring nicely based on last Sunday's demolition of an admittedly disjointed and outclassed Sligo outfit.
Last weekend’s game was far too one-sided for Galway supporters to get too carried away, and the game was over as a contest after the first quarter with the Galway forwards able to do as they wished.
Seven points in a row from Galway in that first half put them 0-8 to 0-1 in front, and the gulf in class between the sides was gargantuan.
A lively Shane Walsh and team captain Damien Comer, who Sligo could not control, led the charge, with Ian Burke, Johnny Heaney, Eamonn Brannigan and Seán Kelly all gliding past Sligo defenders at will. Tom Flynn also caught the eye with a solid performance.
Sligo looked totally out of their depth, with veteran Sligo defender Charlie Harrison doing his best to bail out the water on a rapidly sinking ship.
Felt like a challenge
The game took on a challenge feel early on, but there were still many aspects of Galway’s play that were impressive.
One nugget of class was when Damien Comer had the vision and skill to pick out Sean Kelly with a lovely ball over the top of the Sligo defence just before half-time, and the Moycullen man’s tidy finish gave Galway an unassailable 1-15 to 0-6 lead at the small whistle.
Sligo came fifth in division three and survived relegation with a win over Derry in their last outing, and the gulf between division one and three was clear.
Some of the loyal Sligo supporters were not happy with Sligo, believing Cathal Corey does not have his squad playing at their optimum.
Their full-forward Pat Hughes was a case in point, and he did not look even close to fit enough for inter-county action and was rightly withdrawn in the first half.
Regardless of who is over Sligo, they were never going to hold Galway. However they seemed rudderless defensively and it was impossible to figure out their game plan.
Their cause was not helped by kicking 13 wides. Adrian Marren, a player who has done serious damage against Galway in the past, hit a good few waywardly. That said Walsh and his defenders and Ruairí Lavelle will be annoyed how easily Kyle Cawley scored a goal at the start half.
It was sloppy, and such a repeat event could be costly in the bigger games that lie ahead.
Considering Galway started last weekend without Paul Conroy, Ciarán Duggan, who was man of the match against Mayo, and regular corner back Eoghan Kerin, there will be a bit of head scratching to decide the starting 15 for Sunday week.
It was good to see the powerful Michael Daly and Danny Cummins back on the field of play, and they give the management team options off the bench too which is another positive from last weekend.
All in all Galway are in a good place going into the Connacht final and hopefully they will be injury free. They will be favourites to regain the Nestor Cup based on current form.
They also have the added advantage of knowing that if they do not produce a serious performance, Roscommon are capable of beating them.
Forewarned should be forearmed on this occasion.
Scorers for Galway: D Comer 2-2, S Kelly 1-2, I Burke 1-2, S Walsh 0-5 (1f ), E Brannigan 0-3, B McHugh 0-3 (2f ), J Heaney 0-2, P Cooke 0-2, P Sweeney, F Burke, G O’Donnell (0-1 each )
Galway: R Lavelle, D Kyne, S Ó Ceallaigh, D Wynne, C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, S Kelly, T Flynn, P Cooke, J Heaney, S Walsh, E Brannigan, I Burke, D Comer (cpt ), B McHugh. Subs used: P Sweeeny, M Daly, G O’ Donnell, F Burke, J Duane, D Cummins.