Derry first up for Tribesmen in Sam Maguire race

Galway's Damien Comer will lead the line against Derry this Saturday. The Annaghdown man was in great form in the Connacht Final, picking up player of the match.

Galway's Damien Comer will lead the line against Derry this Saturday. The Annaghdown man was in great form in the Connacht Final, picking up player of the match.

Galway play Derry this Saturday evening in the first round of the group stage of the All-Ireland series.

Having beaten Mayo with a last minute Connor Gleeson free kick two weeks ago, Galway will have home advantage for the first round as Connacht champions. Like February’s league game which Derry won, the game will be played in Pearse Stadium and will throw in at 5.30pm.

On that wet February Sunday, Galway were without a whole host of injured players, most of which have now been integrated back into the squad. Jack Glynn, Liam Silke, Seán Kelly, Paul Conroy and Damien Comer all started the Connacht final. Furthermore, Shane Walsh and Matthew Tierney were introduced from the bench, while Cillian McDaid togged out for his county for the first time in 2024.

After Sunday’s dramatic penalty shootout in the Ulster final, Galway will face Armagh in their third group game just like last year. Similar also to 2023, Galway’s second game will be away to Westmeath. The only change from the 2023 group is Derry's allocation in place of Tyrone.

The league game in February can’t be a basis for this fixture, as Galway were missing such a huge number of players.

However, what can not be underestimated for this weekend is the influence a fully fit Damien Comer has on his side. Comer, on his first start of the year was deservedly man of the match in the Connacht final. He was directly involved in eight of his sides first nine scores, either assisting or winning the free to tag onto the two points he scored himself. Comer caused any amount of damage to the Mayo rear-guard consistently throughout the game.

Derry’s defensive setup will be a different animal to Mayo's, but Padraic Joyce will be confident that his talismanic full forward can do damage once he has good ball delivered in.

Shane Walsh’s introduction from the bench in the Connacht final proved to be a masterstroke. The Kilmacud Crokes club man scored three points as he attempted to build back some form after missing the vast majority of the league.

Despite losing to Donegal in the Ulster Championship, Derry have consistently shown how dangerous of a side they are when breaking at pace. Mickey Harte's side will be out to prove that they are serious All-Ireland contenders despite their early elimination from the provincial championships.

Throughout the league they punished each little mistake their opposition made, and played out a classic against Sam Maguire favourites Dublin. Their danger man Shane McGuigan was well marshalled by Johnny McGrath in February, with the Slaughtneil sharpshooter kept scoreless from play. McGrath will hope to perform as admirably again on Saturday evening. Furthermore if Galway can keep tabs on both Conor Glass and Brendan Rodgers in midfield they will have a great chance of coming out on top.

With tickets set at €25 for each of these group games, the GAA are doing a promotional offer whereby fans can purchase a ticket bundle for the three games for €50. Unfortunately for those who are unable to travel to Salthill, the match, which is a replay of the 2022 All-Ireland semi-final will not be shown live on tv. Hence supporters will have to purchase the game on GAAGO.


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