“Looking at the 15 there may be eight, nine, 10 players either making their debut or their second Championship game for Galway, nobody realises that, but that could be the situation next week,” selector John Concannon says about the emergence of talent Corribside.
Introducing young footballers to senior inter-county football has been a theme of the past 18 months for the Galway management under Padraic Joyce. Concannon is encouraged about the fact that so many players have been exposed to top level fare.
“It is great, even to play the likes of the Kerrys, the Dublins, the Monaghans, even Roscommon again,” Concannon adds.
“To play and be on the same pitch as these brilliant players has brought them on so much. The best thing you can see from them - the younger lads - is that they have no fear.
“They have won the All Ireland U20 last year, they beat Dublin, they beat Kerry, they have no fear, it is a breath of fresh air in the overall group. The four games will bring them on, we can see it in training. They are all fighting tooth and nail to get in the 15, to get in the 26 for next Sunday.”
The death or glory element of knockout Championship fare, though, is a significant challenge.
“It is very hard, seven teams went out at the weekend,” Concannon replies. “It is so difficult, those seven teams have just put in as much effort as any other team - they are now gone.
“You saw the face of Colm Collins, he was disappointed, and Clare were going so well. They could have gone a long way through a backdoor route. Seven more teams will go out next week.
“That will be 14 teams gone in two weeks of Championship football. Obviously in the scenario we are in at the moment there is nothing Croke Park can do, but it is very, very unfortunate.”
It was a strange 2020 for Galway, a campaign that commenced with such promise before the pandemic stopped inter-county activity for seven months. In the winter Championship Galway received a walkover from Sligo, who had a Covid outbreak.
“We were unfortunate with the Sligo situation,” Concannon says. “We had no preparation as such going into the Mayo game which we felt would have brought us on an awful lot.
“This year we've had the four league games which is great. The Championship is so close to the league this year it should help us in that regard.”
Concannon confirmed that talisman Damien Comer is back in training ahead of the Roscommon encounter. Despite suffering relegation from Division One in the Allianz Football League Concannon is adamant that significant lessons were learned.
“We have a very young team,” Concannon says. “The game against Monaghan, the average age of the team was 24. So, everybody is learning. Obviously, the game in Kerry wasn’t ideal. We came back, had a good few team meetings, we learned a lot from it, we had a good performance and were happy with the performance against Roscommon.
“We were happy again with the performance against Dublin, albeit we felt we left that game after us. We had enough chances to win the game. The two goals, we felt, should and could have been avoided, but overall, again, we were happy with that day.”
Galway were not clinical enough in Clones according to Concannon. “The Monaghan game, and we have spoken an awful lot about it, we left 4-10 after us, we feel, in fairness,” he says.
“In our own opinion, we were the dominant team on the day and we should have won the game when five points up with a few minutes to go.
“Maybe that goes back to the average age of the team and that small bit of inexperience in order to close out the game, maybe we didn’t have that.
“We played well enough in those games and we were happy with the performance and we have definitely learned an awful lot from it.”