Football fixtures halted after promising start to Joyce’s management reign

As the country comes to a standstill, so must the current GAA season, and it remains to be seen how fixtures and competitions will be fulfilled this season.

With the date of return unknown due to the COVID-19 crisis, there will be a huge backlog of fixtures which will be a major headache for GAA bosses once normality resumes.

There is a blanket ban in place on all training and matches at all levels which will prove to be a massive obstacle for teams and individuals at a time that is usually a crucial stage of the season in preparation for championship.

For Galway and manager Pádraic Joyce, it breaks their momentum in what has been a strong showing throughout this league campaign with four wins from five. How the remainder of the league will be played, if it is played, will be the least of Joyce’s concerns when football returns.

Their championship opener, which is to be played in Gaelic Park in New York versus The Exiles, is unlikely. with global restrictions placed on travel.

There has also been talk of a straight knock-out championship which would raise the stakes when football resumes, but it places even greater reliance on the players themselves to keep in shape during these worrying times.

Joyce has dramatically changed the outlook and feel of Galway football in such a short space of time with his ultra attacking mindset. He has taken the shackles off his players and the results have been superb, with his team producing a number of attacking displays.

There have been a few players who have been key in this good run with many playing their first season in the maroon and white.

Connor Gleeson

The goalkeeper position has long been a problem for Galway. Although there is no lack of talent in that area within the county, there has been no consistency between the sticks. Both Ruairi Lavelle and Bernard Power have been rotated over the past few seasons with neither quite nailing down the number one spot. Dunmore man Connor Gleeson has come in and proven to be a safe pair of hands between the sticks. A big man in stature, a superb shot stopper, and brilliant under a high ball, his performances have offered plenty of optimism for supporters. However, his kickouts will need to improve if he is to be a mainstay in the team.

Sean Mulkerrin

Tipped by many as a young minor to be Galway’s full-back for years to come, Mulkerrin has enjoyed a solid campaign thus far. In his first year out of U20 he has acclimatised to senior inter-county football well. He has brought a different dimension to the Galway full-back line with his ability to drive out from deep with craft, greatly assisting Galway’s expansive style. Although he will need to put on a few layers of conditioning if he is to shackle the top forwards of the country, his ability to read the game is undoubted.

John Daly

Even at this early stage in only his second season at inter-county level, Daly has cemented his place at centre-back in Joyce’s side and appears to be the solution for the next decade. Daly missed one game against Tyrone earlier in the league and in that opening half his presence was sorely missed. His strength and mobility around the middle is a vital cog in the Galway set-up. He has grown in stature within the team and is one of the first names on the team sheet. At just 21 years of age, he is only going to get better.

Ronan Steede

The newly-crowned club footballer of the year has been a revelation at centre field for the Tribesmen. It has been a wonder to many for a number of years how the Corofin clubman has not featured for his county, but this year could be his breakthrough season. Steede struggled initially in his opening two games against Kerry and Donegal, but credit must be given to Joyce for persisting with him. It paid off as Steede returned the favour in spades with two dominant performances aganst Tyrone and Meath, scoring 0-03 and 1-01 respectively. This ability to contribute to the scoreboard from midfield is something Galway have not had for a long time.

Shane Walsh

Currently on form, Walsh is the best player in the country. So far this season, his performances have been nothing short of phenomenal. Having been appointed captain at the beginning of the season, it seems to have given Walsh a new lease of life. At times during games, such as Monaghan and Kerry, when Galway have been struggling, Walsh has single-handedly kept his time in games. His solo goal against Kerry in Tralee will surely be a nomination for goal of the year. He strikes fear into every defender around the country as they know they can’t match him for pace. If Galway are to bring Sam back across the Shannon, then much will be resting on this man's shoulders.

 

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