Having already qualified for the league final against Dublin on April 1 in Croke Park, the Galway footballers head to Newbridge this Sunday (3pm ) to take on already-relegated Kildare in what is effectively a dead rubber game.
Twelve months is a long time in Gaelic football and this time last year Kildare had already qualified for the division two final and were able to make wholesale changes for their last league game against Galway in Pearse Stadium.
A year later and it is Galway who have the luxury of giving some game time to squad members and trying out a few things this weekend against Cian O’ Neill’s side.
Kevin Walsh’s footballers drew 0-13 each with Jim Gavin’s Dublin last Sunday in Pearse Stadium in a feisty contest that will ensure there is lots of interest in Sunday week’s final in GAA headquarters.
It took a stunning late equaliser from the increasingly impressive Johnny Heaney to ensure that Galway got a share of the spoils, and the home side battled really hard against an aggressive and, at times, cynical opposition.
With some good scores from distance from Peter Cooke, Shane Walsh and free-taker Barry McHugh, Galway led by five points at half-time. However playing into a strong breeze, they only managed three points in the second half.
The game ended nastily with several Dublin forwards holding on to their markers – as they did against Mayo in last year’s All-Ireland final in the last minute or two - as Galway sought an equaliser.
Jim Gavin likes to portray his team as purer than the driven snow, and without any need or desire to call on the dark arts of Gaelic football.
However, watching opposition defenders being dragged to the ground by his forwards to stop them getting the ball from a restart is difficult to justify and explain.
Dublin’s top free-taker Dean Rock was black carded after 47 minutes, which was a blow to his team, and Eoghan O’ Gara was also red-carded for an off-the-ball incident with Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh. Philly McMahon also should have seen red rather than yellow for an altercation with Eamonn Brannigan.
The animosity between the players last weekend will guarantee a good crowd on Sunday week and it will be interesting to see how that game goes - the last big fixtures before the championship.