Galway footballers will need massive performance to topple Dublin

The Galway senior footballers under Kevin Walsh have thus far enjoyed a productive season.

They performed well in division one, reaching the league final and winning the Connacht championship. And on Sunday they are in the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time in 17 years, courtesy of Super Eight victories over Kerry and Kildare.

Back in the 2001 semi-final, Galway beat Derry by 1-14 to 1-11 with a midfield partnership of Kevin Walsh and Michael Donnellan. Oughterard's Matthew Clancy scored a screamer of a goal in that game from distance when it was badly needed to steer Galway to the final.

The current Galway management team and squad will be hoping a forward or two can get a few goals in past Stephen Cluxton this Saturday evening when they take on All-Ireland champions Dublin in the 2018 All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park (5pm ).

Galway will probably need at least a goal or two if they are going to rattle the Dubs.

Jim Gavin's outfit are now considered one of the top squads in the history of the GAA, with five All-Ireland titles since 2011.

Senior players such as Cluxton, James McCarthy, Cian O' Sullivan, Paul Flynn, Michael Darragh Macauley, Michael Fitzsimons and Kevin McManamon have collected five Celtic Crosses from those victories.

Interestingly, Dublin have won four of those finals by just a single point. In 2011 (beat Kerry by a point ), 2013 (beat Mayo by a point ), 2016 (beat Mayo by a point after a replay ) and 2017 (beat Mayo by a point ). The exception was in 2015 when they defeated Kerry by 0-12 to 0-9 in a dreary enough game.

Galway need serious intensity

Most Galway supporters seem to be disregarding last Saturday's 0-16 to 0-8 defeat to Monaghan in Pearse Stadium as a blip - and explain the team's flat performance on the fact that Galway had already qualified for the semi-final and had nothing to play for.

That is a valid point, and hopefully it is true, but the players will know their intensity levels, work-rate and speed of thought and movement will have to improve enormously if they are to have any chance of creating the biggest shock of the past few years in football.

The bookies have Galway at 5/1 to win and have given them a plus six point handicap, such is the belief that Dublin will be far too strong for the men wearing maroon.

Dublin ran through Roscommon last Sunday by 4-24 to 2-16 with big full-forward Eoghan O'Gara hitting 2-2 from play and Cormac Costello hitting 0-9 (six from play ) in his 47 minutes on the field.

They have serious strength in depth and lined out last weekend without regular first team players such as Ciarán Kilkenny, Bryan Fenton, Dean Rock, Con O'Callaghan and newcomer Eoin Murchan, a real speedster who does an excellent man-marking job.

Galway really put it up to Dublin in the league final, and Galway supporters will be hoping team captain Damien Comer, Shane Walsh and Ian Burke will produce big performances up front in three days' time.

To do that they will need possession and a good bit of it. Hence players such as Tom Flynn, Gareth Bradshaw, Peter Cooke, Ciarán Duggan, Johnny Heaney, Seán Kelly and Eamonn Brannigan will need to have powerful games in getting the ball and linking play.

At certain stages of the game Galway must pressurise Cluxton's kick-outs and push up in order to try to disrupt Dublin's flow.

Allowing the Dublin defence to bring out the ball uncontested for the whole game would leave Galway open to death by a thousand cuts.

Kilkenny must be stopped

The key man that Galway must try to nullify is Ciarán Kilkenny.

He is the conductor of the Dublin orchestra up front, and Galway cannot allow him time on the ball to set up attacks and create openings. Last year Mayo put Lee Keegan on him and he did a super job taking him out of the game and it almost worked.

Who will Kevin Walsh turn to in order to try to stop Kilkenny's influence?

We in this parish will be travelling up to the big dance hall on Jones Road more in hope, than expectation.

Dublin look to have too many options in their forward line, and also have too many options off the bench when players get tired in the last quarter. How often in the past few years was it impact subs who got them over the end line?

Hopefully Galway can keep it really tight at the back and still be in the game with 15 minutes left. If they are, then who knows what could happen.

Unfortunately, however, it looks likely that Dublin will be in the final on September 2.

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