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The Galway footballers produced a solid workmanlike performance in horrible conditions at Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening to deservedly beat Derry by 1-11 to 0-8 in Round 3B of the qualifiers.
It is not the Connacht final we expected to see but it certainly is one that has been widely anticipated after Sligo threw away the form book when comprehensively disposing of Roscommon in the semi final. It is slightly ironic that it is the 40th anniversary of Sligo’s famous win against Mayo in the final. The big question on everybody’s lips is will they be able to produce again against the current Connacht kingpins to prevent the green and red going for an unprecedented five in a row.
The reward for Galway's hard-fought three-point victory over Armagh (1-12 to 0-12) on Sunday at the Athletic Grounds is a home tie with Derry this Saturday evening (5pm) at Pearse Stadium.
Armagh are no world beaters, but they are division three league champions, having also been promoted to division two for next season. They beat Fermanagh in the division three final by 0-16 to 0-11.
The Galway footballers have been drawn away to Armagh next weekend, July 11/12, in round two of the All-Ireland football qualifiers.
Mayo made it five wins in a row in Salthill last Sunday against Galway in the first real test of the Holmes and Connelly era with a bit to spare. While the gap was only four points at full time whistle in reality, Mayo always had the Tribesmen fended off apart from a brief period at the tail end of the first-half that culminated with Gary Sice's thunderbolt of a goal.
It started and ended with a handbags being thrown, but in the seventy odd minutes in between Mayo did what they needed to do and saw off Galway in a sun splashed Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The main man on the day for Mayo was Aidan O’Shea who put in a show stopping performance where he tormented the Galway defence for the full seventy minutes. The big Breaffy man was hauled to the ground so often in desperation by Galway defenders that his knees will be sore for a few days from the impact of landing.
It’s been a long wait and it's nearly over. Since Mayo last tasted competitive action almost every other county has been involved in championship action, with Sligo the only side to have not got their summer underway by the time Mayo throw in against Galway on Sunday. This will be the first proper test of the Holmes and Connelly management ticket in the white heat of championship action and they couldn’t have asked for a more traditional joust than a meeting with Galway in their own back yard.
Galway now have a month to prepare themselves for the visit of Mayo to Pearce Stadium in the Connacht semi-final on June 14 following their win in Carrick-on Shannon on Sunday. The month off is something that Galway manager Kevin Walsh is looking forward to after a hectic Spring schedule, he explained after the his sides eight point win. “The most important thing was to get out of here today. I’ve been involved in panels in the past that really struggled to get out of here, but the build up to today with New York and five league games in a row, it’ll be great to get a week off for the lads.”
The Galway senior footballers did what had to be done Stateside on Sunday when they easily defeated the home side by 2-18 to 0-8 to set up a Connacht quarter-final against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon in two weeks (Sunday May 17).