Hard to see past a Galway victory in Pearse Stadium

Galway footballers face Leitrim in the Connacht Championship semi-final in Pearse Stadium on Sunday (3.30pm ) - the winners will be rewarded with a meeting with provincial favourites Roscommon.

The Rossies overcame Sligo without much difficulty last Saturday evening by 0-23 to 0-11 to advance to this year's decider on May 29, while, if successful, Galway will be contesting their seventh Connacht final in succession.

However, first is a Leitrim outfit spearheaded by familiar foe Andy Moran who has taken charge for 2022 in what is his first foray into management. It is also the first time since 2015 the two sides have met in in the championship - the last occasion the Tribesmen prevailed by 1-13 to 0-8 in the Connacht quarter-final.

Galway are firm favourites following their victory over Mayo in Castlebar nearly a fortnight ago, but that win is now history as manager Padraic Joyce and his management team look to continue their momentum.

Galway were missing a few players through injury against Mayo and it will be interesting to see if any return to the fold on Sunday. Conor Gleeson ably replaced Conor Flaherty in goal for the Mayo encounter - the Claregalway goalkeeper having suffered an injury against Roscommon in the league final. Nor was there a place for James McLoughlin in the squad against Mayo after he impressed in his cameo against the Rossies in the Connacht final.

Galway supporters will be intrigued to see if Joyce opts to stick with the double sweeper system which worked so well against Mayo.

Wing backs Kieran Molloy and Dylan McHugh offered massive protection to the Galway full back line in MacHale Park as they dropped in front of the defence throughout the course of the game when Mayo were in attack. This prevented Mayo’s runners breaking through the middle which they have done so well throughout the years.

The Tribesmen had been shipping big scores during the league against Roscommon (twice ), Cork and Offaly, and this system seemed to be implemented to protect his side's porous nature in those previous games and was effective on the day. Whether it is required against a less potent team such as Leitrim remains to be seen, but it will certainly be fascinating to see if it is used again as the championship progresses.

It will be interesting also to see if there are any changes to personnel from the start this coming Sunday. With the time for experimentation well and truly over, Joyce will be trying to figure out his strongest team. Patrick Kelly, who was the sub in Castlebar, made the biggest impact off the bench and must be pushing for a starting place. Cillian McDaid also made a difference with his energy, so he must also be chomping at the bit.

Leitrim have enjoyed a solid season to date. They were fighting for promotion until the final round of the league in division four, but fell just fell short at the final hurdle. They were made to work hard for their victory over London in Ruislip in the Connacht quarter-final , but eventually came out on top on by 3-12 to 2-11.

Their danger men inside, Ryan O’Rourke and Darragh Rooney,have been their main scorers this season.

Leitrim’s objective for the day will likely be to stay competitive for the full 70 minutes to be in with a chance of winning going down the final stretch. Despite this, it is hard to see past a Galway victory.


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