After a difficult first-half for the away side, Galway began to open up in the second half with two quick-fire goals that their dominance deserved. These goals, followed by a last-minute strike by debutant Martin Farragher, gave Galway a 13-point win over Sligo in Sunday's Connacht Senior Football Championship semi-final in Markievicz Park.
Sligo attempted to play a robust and physical game, which clearly affected Galway in the first half, but the hosts never really showed any intent going forward, mainly interested in keeping the scores down and hitting hard in the tackle.
The first half against an organised mass defence showed the struggles Kevin Walsh and his team could have further down the line in this championship. They strugged to break down the Sligo team, and with the forward line narrowing, they walked right into Sligo’s trap.
Kieran Molloy, on his return to action, was forced off with an injury early on, but until them he had been enjoying himself with decisive runs from defence to attack, giving the home side reason for concern. His 10 minutes on the field did his case to start this year’s Connacht final no harm, if his shoulder injury heals up in time. Another player who finally got to show his potential on the bigger stage was Corofin’s Martin Farragher, scoring 1-1 in injury time after replacing Ian Burke late on.
The second half proved much more fruitful for Galway after changing tactics. Spreading their players across the forward line instead of bunching up, they grabbed the first goal from a swift move involving Fiontán O’Currain, Liam Silke, Danny Cummins and Johnny Heaney before Silke palmed to the net for his second championship goal for Galway, both of which have been scored in Markievicz Park.
Silke enjoyed his finest performance to date in a maroon jersey, proving to be more of an attacking threat from corner back instead of his usual wing back position. Scoring 1-2 from play and keeping his own man to a solitary point he was fully deserving of the man of the match award. Silke, moving to corner back, opens up a position in the half back line that can be filled by Kieran Molloy, Gary O’Donnell, the returning Cillian McDaid or the soon-to-return Seán Kelly.
In his first championship start since 2017 due to injuries, O’Currain also managed to score his first point, and enjoyed a solid display when linking up with Flynn again in midfield. A worry for Walsh will be that none of his starting full forward line could muster a score during the course of the game, but they did have a helping hand in many of Galway’s scores.
Overall, after two games against the two teams bottom of divisions three and four in the league, Galway have much to improve on if they are to retain their Connacht title.
For now, all roads for Galway point to Pearse Stadium on June 16, and they will find out on Saturday evening who their opposition will be after Mayo face Roscommon in Castlebar at 7pm.
Galway: B Power, E Kerin, S O’Ceallaigh, L Silke, K Molloy, G Bradshaw, J Daly, T Flynn, F O’Currain, S Walsh, M Daly, J Heaney, A O’Laoi, I Burke, D Cummins. Subs: O’Donnell for Molloy (16 ), Brannigan for Cummins (55 ), Finnerty for O’Laoi (61 ), McDaid for Heaney (64 ), Farragher for Burke (66 ), Duane for Bradshaw (68 ).