Footballers cannot afford to slip up against Down

Galway's Michael Daly and Derry's Carlus McWilliams in action from the Allianz Football league game at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Michael Daly and Derry's Carlus McWilliams in action from the Allianz Football league game at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

The Galway senior footballers will head up north on Saturday afternoon hoping to collect another two vital league points when they face Down in Páirc Esler on Sunday (3pm ).

After last weekend's important 5-15 to 2-15 win over Derry in Tuam Stadium, the mood in the camp should be quite positive.

While Galway did hit a huge tally last Sunday, they also conceded a whopping 2-10 in the first half and there will have to be some honest, thoughtful and productive conversations between the management team and both the full-back and half-back lines before this Sunday's tie.

Some of Galway's defending in the first half was shambolic and, while the full-back line had a very poor 35 minutes, they received little, if any, protection from their outside line.

At stages in the first half, there were acres of space in front of Luke Burke, David Walsh and Cathal Sweeney for the Derry men to horse in ball to their full-forward line. The entire half-back line of O'Donnell, Bradshaw and Heaney strayed too far up field on numerous occasions, and at least one of them should have stayed back and swept in front of their full-back line colleagues.

It was interesting to see Corofin's Michael Farragher coming in at centre-back for the last quarter and his distribution was impressive during his time. Farragher has almost always lined out as a forward with his club over the past few years, but trying him at centre-back is an experiment that is well worth persevering with.

Both team captain Gary O'Donnell and Gareth Bradshaw are similar when in possession and like to run with the ball in hand from the half-back line, while Farragher favours kick-passing and it is a role he could grow into.

Down, for their part, under the guidance of former All-Ireland winner in 1991 and 1994 Eamonn Burns, were beaten by table-toppers Kildare by 2-10 to 0-9 last Sunday.

They know they need another two points to avoid being dragged into relegation trouble and they will be looking to ace free-taker and wing back Darragh O'Hanlon, Coalan Mooney, midfielders Aidan Carr and Peter Turley, and forwards Kevin McKernan and Barry O'Hagan to bring the fight to the visitors.

Galway forwards moving well

While the defence had difficulties in the first half, the forwards, still without the injured Damien Comer racked up a great tally, 3-08 in the second half, and Michael Daly, Eamonn Brannigan and Shane Walsh on his introduction really caught the eye at stages.

Daly's two long-range points in the second half were fabulous efforts, and if he can be a bit more judicious with his shot selection, he can become one of Galway's most effective and important forwards.

Probably the most important score from a Galway perspective was Tom Flynn's great run and goal just before half-time. Galway had lost their way at that stage, and were six points behind when Flynn took the game by the scruff of the neck and tore through from the right wing for a tonic green flag.

When the Athenry man is in full flight on the run, he is a very fast and big unit, and hopefully we will see a lot more of those inspiring bursts and drives at goal in the coming weeks and months.

Every game is vital now and Galway will need to produce a solid performance to beat a hurting Down outfit.

Assuming they can tighten up a good bit at the back, Galway have a midfield pairing of Conroy and Ó'Curraoin that should be able to get enough possession to feed a lively forward unit that has the scoring spread to win the game.

That said, any maroon complacency will be punished by Down and the way the results have been going in this division it is difficult to predict any result with any certainty.

We need to believe we are good enough to beat Down at the moment, and with Kildare to come in round seven in Pearse Stadium on Sunday week (April 2 ), the panel cannot afford to have any slip-up this weekend if they want to be playing top flight league football this time next year.

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