A massively improved performance from Galway leaves them with a fighting chance heading into this coming weekend’s final round of fixtures.
In Pearse Stadium Galway were far superior to Roscommon and fully deserving of their six-point victory, but the visit of Dublin to Tuam Stadium on Sunday is an entirely different proposition.
Throw in is at 3.45pm with both sides needing a result to avoid dropping into the relegation play-offs.
Dublin’s exciting draw with Kerry means that a loss to Galway would leave them in third position in division one south, resulting in a play-off. A draw or a Galway loss would leave the Tribesmen in that play-off position.
Manager Padriac Joyce says it will be a tough challenge.
|”It isn’t an easy game. It is going to be another juggernaut coming down the road at us full tilt. It is in our own hands. If we beat Dublin, we qualify for a league semi-final, that is the approach we are taking towards the game.”
As expected Padraic Joyce made several changes to his side from the previous week’s annihilation to Kerry, and after last weekend’s performance it would be difficult to see more than one or two changes to the side that will face the six-time All-Ireland champions.
Seán Kelly, Kieran Molloy, Finnian O’Laoi and Robert Finnerty all made an impact. This was Molloy’s first National League start and he repaid the faith shown in him by nullifying the threat of Enda Smith throughout the game, keeping one of Roscommon’s most influential forwards to a solitary point across 60 plus minutes of football.
O’Laoi and Finnerty also gave themselves a great chance of starting again in the final group game. O’Laoi was in inspired form deployed in the sweeper role. He was a thorn in the opposition, constantly breaking down their attacks and setting Galway going up the field again. Finnerty, on the other hand, and on his local patch, was a massive threat in front of goal throughout the game, finishing with four points from play and one from an offensive mark.
An early goal from Paul Kelly set Galway on the winning path, and for the entire 70 plus minutes this Galway side showed fight, determination, and organisation - three things that were sorely missed in Killarney. These three attributes will need to be intensified even more if they are to stand a chance of beating the Dubs who seemed at no more than 65 per cent when Kerry needed a 74th minute penalty to snatch a draw.
The tactical match-ups on Sunday will be intriguing. Padraic Joyce rightly wants to see his side match it with the best, so will Galway attempt to go even more expansive, or will the slightly more defensive structure stay in place? A defensive structure that yields a return of 2-16 with the majority of that coming from play shows how much Joyce wants his players to express and enjoy themselves while winning matches for their county.
Jack Glynn bounced back brilliantly from a tough day in Killarney as did Dylan McHugh and Matthew Tierney with strong performances across the park. Tomo Culhane enjoyed another cameo off the bench notching an important, if contentious, goal and a fine point for himself.
Shane Walsh started to show glimpses of what he can do, while Damien Comer will continue to improve with every game after a couple of frustrating injury-filled seasons. When in full flow his direct running is a joy to watch and more than a handful for opponents.
Sunday afternoon at 3.45pm will be a much different prospect, but Galway appear to be finding themselves again in 2021.
Galway: B Power, S Kelly, S Mulkerrin, J Glynn, L Silke, D McHugh, K Molloy, P Conroy, M Tierney, E Brannigan, D Comer, P Kelly, R Finnerty, S Walsh, F O’Laoi. Subs: Cooke for Kelly, Heaney for Brannigan, Conneely for Finnerty, Culhane for Tierney, Steede for Comer, Duane for McHugh, O’Donnell for Molloy.