All-Ireland champions Dublin too good for Walsh's men

Galway's Seán Kelly and Dublin's Con O'Callaghan in action from the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship semi-final at Croke Park on Saturday. 
Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Seán Kelly and Dublin's Con O'Callaghan in action from the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship semi-final at Croke Park on Saturday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Travelling up the motorway on Saturday afternoon to Croke Park for the All-Ireland semi-final, we listened to Padraic Joyce (Galway ), Dick Clerkin (Monaghan ) and Liam Kearns (Tipperary manager ) on Off the Ball on Newstalk to pass an hour of the journey, and all three pointed out that Galway would have to produce an exceptional performance to keep the Dubs at bay.

They were not merely talking about being good. No, Galway were going to have to have a super day up front to have any chance whatsoever even to make the game competitive. Galway needed to be totally ruthless in front of goal and to have a serious first half. They needed to be ahead at half-time just to ask Dublin a few questions and see how they responded.

The reality is that Galway were not ruthless enough at all in front of goal when the game was competitive and Tom Flynn and Ciarán Duggan were holding their own around the middle.

Galway's return of eight scores from 17 scoring chances in the first half, including Eamonn Brannigan's saved penalty, meant they went in 1-09 to 1-07 down, despite having had more scoring opportunities than Jim Gavin's men, who hit 10 scores from 12 chances.

Galway remained competitive for about 10 minutes of that second half, but when they tired and Dublin turned up the heat in the last 25 minutes, there was going to be one winner. The only question was by how much were Dublin going to win?

In the end the margin was nine points, 1-24 to 2-12, but it felt like it could have been a good bit more had they really put the pedal to the metal.

To be fair, the Galway players kept going right to the bitter end, stayed honest, and got some joy when Shane Walsh snuck in for a late consolation goal.

Dublin's subs sublime

That Jim Gavin could bring on six serious footballers, all with four or five Celtic Crosses, including Michael Fitzsimons, Cormac Costello, Kevin McManamon, Michael Darragh MacAuley and Paul Flynn, tells us all we need to know about Dublin's phenomenal strength in depth.

Flynn, Costello and McManamon hit 0-6 among them, and their fresh legs really opened up the Galway rearguard in the last quarter.

Dublin will be going for a sixth All-Ireland success in eight years (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 are already in the bag ) and a four-in-a-row when they face Tyrone on September 2, and not too many would bet against them achieving that target.

Their pace and stamina all over the field is almost impossible to curtail, and the reality is that they won this All-Ireland semi-final game pulling up.

Galway battled valiantly to the end, but they were just up against a far superior outfit and there is no shame in that.

A good year

While it has been a disappointing fortnight with two big defeats to Monaghan in Pearse Stadium and to Dublin last Saturday at headquarters, overall it has been a positive and progressive year for the Galway senior football squad.

The management team blooded a few new players, such as Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Ciarán Duggan and Sean Kelly, who all had very good seasons.

The team was defensively very solid in the league and unbeaten in division one until the league final. They defeated Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon to win the Connacht championship, and qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final in 17 years courtesy of wins over Kerry and Kildare.

So while the last two games ended in defeat, the progress over the past year has been positive.

Hopefully manager Kevin Walsh will stay on for another season to continue that good work and see where 2019 takes them.

Scorers for Galway: S Walsh 1-5 (0-3f ), D Comer 1-1, I Burke 0-2, G O’Donnell, T Flynn, M Daly, J Heaney 0-1 each.

Galway: Ruairí Lavelle, Declan Kyne, Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Eoghan Kerin, Cathal Sweeney, Gareth Bradshaw, Seán Kelly, Ciarán Duggan, Tom Flynn, Johnny Heaney, Shane Walsh, Eamonn Brannigan, Ian Burke, Damien Comer (cpt ), Seán Armstrong. Subs used: Michael Daly, Peter Cooke, Gary O’Donnell, Adrian Varley, Kieran Molloy, Johnny Duane

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