Footballers open league campaign with promotion as their target

Galway's Barry McHugh, who has enjoyed an impressive campaign at full forward,  and Roscommon's Conor Devaney in the FBD Connacht Football League final in Kiltoom on Sunday. 		Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Barry McHugh, who has enjoyed an impressive campaign at full forward, and Roscommon's Conor Devaney in the FBD Connacht Football League final in Kiltoom on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Ray Silke

The Galway senior footballers will be targeting promotion from division two this season, and the first step starts this Sunday when they face Cork in Pearse Stadium (2pm ) in their opening National Football League fixture.

Galway are now entering their sixth year in division two, and it is well time for a change of scenery.

After winning the Connacht final in style last summer, they will look to build on that provincial success and add a bit more momentum to their medium term plans by taking the step up to division one football this season.

Kevin Walsh's charges had a productive January which culminated last weekend with a good win, retaining their FBD League football title after a 2-14 to 0-15 victory over Roscommon in Kiltoom.

Galway led at half time by 1-8 to 0-8 thanks to a goal by young Cillian McDaid and a second goal early in the second half by Danny Cummins.

Full forward Barry McHugh from Mountbellew/Moylough, who had a very impressive FBD campaign, hit 0-6 (2fs ) last weekend. McHugh hit 0-23 in the three games he played in the FBD and Galway supporters will be keen to observe how he copes with the step up to division two football. Goalkeeper Rory Lavelle from Inisbofin also did well with a series of good saves to put himself in the frame to start between the sticks this weekend.

Galway lost out on promotion in the final game of the league last year when they went down by 1-16 to 1-12 to Cavan. However, with four home games over the next eight weeks, including Clare, Derry and Kildare, they will be keen to avoid the same slip-up in 2017.

No doubt the more experienced players on the current panel, such as Paul Conroy, Gary O' Donnell, Danny Cummins, Gareth Bradshaw and Sean Armstrong, would love to play in division one in 2018. While taking it one game at a time, they will believe this current Galway squad is good enough to finish in the top two slots in this division.

Galway's preparation for this Sunday has been hampered by several players, including Eamon Brannigan, Damien Comer and Michael Daly, having been involved with their colleges during the FBD league, and with Sigerson Cup games this week.

The Corofin contingent on the squad will also be unavailable until after the All-Ireland club championship series ends for them.

Notwithstanding that fact, Galway are good enough to beat a Cork side that has been a bit underwhelming over the past 12 months.

Cork Peadar Healy has to plan now without a few experienced players who have retired recently and he will look to Ian Maguire, Michael Shields, Peter Kelleher and Dublin-based Niall Coakley to take the fight to the home side.

After three impressive wins in the FBD in January and enjoying home turf this Sunday, anything less than a good solid performance from Galway and two league points to get the show on the road ahead of their trip to Fermanagh on February 12 would be a big disappointment.

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