Countdown continues as Galway prepares to go head to head with the Kingdom

Galway must nullify Kerry's attack to win

Padraic Joyce takes Galway into their first All-Ireland final since 2001, when, on that day, Galway overcame a fancied Meath side. On the day the now manager was the star.

The Killererin club man notched a tally of 0-10 to lead his side to victory. And now he and every other Galway football supporter will be hoping for the same outcome on Sunday. And on this occasion it will also be green and gold - not the Royals, but the might of the Kingdom of Kerry.

Sunday clash between Galway and Kerry will be the first final meeting of the counties since 2000. On that occasion Kerry won the replay by four points against Galway in another game in which Joyce featured prominently. And there were also six other All-Ireland deciders in which Galway and Kerry have clashed, spanning from 1938 to 1965. Galway were victorious on three of those occasions.

This time round the Tribesmen come into Sunday’s encounter as massive underdogs, but that will not bother the players, management, or supporters one iota. Galway have been in this position in 1998 and 2001 and came out on the right side.

The winner of that Dublin and Kerry semi-final has already been crowned All-Ireland champions in most people's minds. This leaves Galway perfectly placed for a silent assassination.

The last meeting between the two sides was in the league last year which saw Kerry humiliate Galway by 4-21 to 0-11 in Tralee. It is highly unlikely we will see a repeat in Croke Park on Sunday as Galway’s development and approach to the game has changed dramatically since the introduction of Cian O’Neill to the back-room team.

The last championship meeting between the sides was in the Super 8 in 2018 when Kevin Walsh oversaw a victory with a Patrick Sweeney goal the difference as Galway won by 1-13 to 1-10. Although there has been a massive turnover of players since that win, there are still squad members who remain, and it will give them massive confidence in knowing they have turned Kerry over in Croke Park in a big game in the not-so distant past.

There is much anticipation in the county that Joyce and Cian O’Neill will have a shrewd tactical plan in place to nullify the Kerry attack and give Galway a springboard for a victory.

In the semi-final against Derry it appeared as if Galway had addressed the main issues which arose from the league and championship, ie, their tendency to concede a lot of scores and leak late goals. In the final quarter of the Derry game, Galway shut up shop soon after taking a commanding lead and refused to give the Oak County a sniff of a comeback, despite a late goal. There appeared to be a concerted effort to not allow the failings of previous games against Mayo, Roscommon, and Armagh to be repeated.

Having successfully shut out a Derry side that had been extremely potent up to that stage of the championship, the Galway defence, however, now will be facing their biggest test yet in the form of the Kerry attack.

Based on the evidence of the earlier championship games, it is expected Kerry boss Jack O'Connor will be targeting Galway’s back line. Although Kerry do not have the same imposing figure as Kieran Donaghy was for the Kingdom, there is still a massive physical presence in the full forward line with Clifford, O’Shea, Geaney, and even Spillane, should he be sprung from the bench.

Kerry used that direct ball multiple times in the first half against Dublin and received their just rewards. The Galway full-back line and goalkeeper can expect some bombardment from the likes of David Moran early on to test their mettle.

Whatever the outcome of the game, these Galway players have given the people of Galway an incredible journey this year in both league and championship. This is a team everyone can get behind and, hopefully the Galwegians who are travelling in numbers to Croke Park will be celebrating Sam crossing the Shannon for the first time since 2001.


Page generated in 0.3223 seconds.