Positive league campaign ends in disappointment for Galway footballers

 Galway’ws Antaine O’Laoi (right), in action against Padraig Hampsey of Tyrone,  has added to Kevin Walsh’s options in the full forward line. 
 				Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Galway’ws Antaine O’Laoi (right), in action against Padraig Hampsey of Tyrone, has added to Kevin Walsh’s options in the full forward line. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Sunday was a disappointing end to an otherwise positive league campaign for Galway, losing to Tyrone 0-13 to 2-17 at Healy Park, Omagh.

Unlucky to fall to a rejuvenated Kerry, and beaten by the two All-Ireland finalists from 2018, Galway finished the campaign in fifth.

Manager Kevin Walsh, although disappointed with the second-half performance against Tyrone, was delighted with Galway's league campaign given the availability of his senior players.

"Nearly everybody was waiting for Galway to go down on the basis of what we had," Walsh said, "And we didn’t get too many of those injured players back, even since then."

Galway played the entire campaign without influential captain Damien Comer, Adrian Varley and Paul Conroy, all of whom are on the come-back trail and hope to be fit for the summer months. Walsh had the Corofin players available for the first match against Cavan, but since then only Kieran Molloy and Liam Silke have featured, coming on against Tyrone and Kerry respectively.

Against Tyrone, Galway were a joy to watch at times in the first half - the quick passing and movement had Tyrone at sixes and sevens for the last 15 minutes of the half. Shane Walsh and Johnny Heaney stood out in this period, scoring eight of Galway’s 11 points in the opening period. The second half will be one players want to forget, the team never got going again and against the better teams like Tyrone, they paid the price.

However there were also many positives throughout the campaign. Missing at least half a dozen players, they came within one game of reaching a second consecutive league final. The league is regularly used for finding new players and Galway unearthed a couple of gems in John Daly and Antaine O’Laoi - Daly orchestrating the defence and O’Laoi making things stick in the full forward line.

Danny Cummins missed last season through injury, but has looked like a new player since returning, and he always seems to be the man around the square for opportunistic finishes like on Sunday. That knack for goals, added with the clever play he showed in his involvement before scoring the goal against Mayo, will be huge asset going forward. He has scored a goal in all four games since returning and he will be hoping to continue this form into the championship. Michael Daly has played regularly after a stop-start season in 2018 ,and Gary O’Donnell and Gareth Bradshaw also have enjoyed a solid season so far.

Kevin Walsh has said he wants a full squad that can compete for silverware, and this year more than any other, he will have talent in abundance once all the players return from injury and the Corofin players are back at full speed.

All eyes will now firmly be focused on the May Bank Holiday weekend and a visit to Ruislip to play London. Galway’s management team will certainly be eager to put down a marker to get themselves back on the road towards another Connacht final. A win in Ruislip, followed by another win against Sligo or Leitrim, is what is required to reach a fourth Connacht final in a row in a game which would be played in Pearse Stadium.

Galway v Tyrone : Ruairi Lavelle, Eoghan Kerin, Seán Andy O Ceallaigh, David Wynne, Gary O’Donnell, John Daly, Gareth Bradshaw, Tom Flynn, Ciaran Duggan, Finnian O’Laoi, Shane Walsh, Johnny Heaney, Danny Cummins, Michael Daly, Antaine O’Laoi.

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