Spring signals start of GAA action as Galway head to McHale Park

Diarmuid Lee of GMIT  is challenged by the Galway duo of Paddy Kennedy and Anthony Griffin  in Sunday’s Connacht FBD League game at Moycullen . Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy.

Diarmuid Lee of GMIT is challenged by the Galway duo of Paddy Kennedy and Anthony Griffin in Sunday’s Connacht FBD League game at Moycullen . Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy.

Spring may have arrived last Monday, and while many national school children were making St Bridget crosses to herald a season of new beginnings, it is with the start of the National football and hurling leagues that signals the end of the winter hibernation for many GAA fans. Genuine GAA supporters just love going to live games.

I remember my well-read Latin and history teacher from 25 years ago, John B McLoughlin, who is passionate about live shows, telling us once;

“You can read about it. Or hear about it. But you can’t beat experiencing it.” And he is right.

Sport on TV has its merits, but it is impossible to compare that experience with being there on the terraces or in the stand to see the action unfold live in front of your eyes and hear the chatter and banter going on all around you.

In search of that fix, a good crowd of supporters wandered to Moycullen last Sunday to see Galway defeat GMIT by six points and run the eye over the majority of the team who will take on Mayo this Sunday in McHale Park at 2.30pm.

It was good to see Michael Meehan back on the edge of the square. His customary goal reminded us of his fundamental importance to our scoring averages. Nicky Joyce continued his good form and looked lively. He struck 0-6 (2fs ) and his ability to drift away from defenders means he gets onto plenty of ball. Mayo and John O’Mahony will know he needs careful monitoring after his performance in last year’s Connacht final.

Of the new lads seeing some action, Cortoon’s Michael Martin caught the eye with one glorious long-range point from play and another marvellous cross field pass. He is worth persevering with, but he needs to improve his decision making on occasion and work like a demon to improve the quality and use of his right peg.

There was a familiar look around the central diamond with Barry Cullinane, Joe Bergin, Fiachra Breathnach, Niall Coleman and Gary O’Donnell all doing some good things. And it was a positive development to see Breathnach, who is a relentless grafter at centre forward, also pop over two solid points from play.

The county players involved with colleges in the FBD league like Gareth Bradshaw, Adrian Faherty, Paul Conroy and Seán Armstrong will all be available to Joe Kernan this weekend and their availability will strengthen his hand for team selection.

Their opponents Mayo have been stuttering along like a car trying to rid itself of dirty petrol in the FBD League and only the scoring exploits of Mark Ronaldson, who hit 1-06 last weekend against Roscommon, has caught the imagination. That said, they have some very capable performers in the likes of team captain Trevor Mortimer, Keith Higgins, Peadar Gardiner, Ronan McGarrity, Andy Moran and of course Aiden O’Shea on the edge of the square. Indeed, his direct duel with Finian Hanley could have a key bearing on the outcome this weekend and the Salthill man will have to be on the top of his game to nullify the powerful Mayo man.

Galway will not lack anything in the motivation stakes for this Sunday’s tie as their bitter defeat to Mayo in the league game in Tuam when they led by six points at half time was the start of the rot last year. They will also remember the pain of watching Peadar Gardiner’s late point win the Connacht title for the green and red in Pearse Stadium last July.

With a new manager in-situ, those harsh memories need to be avenged. The feeling in this parish is that it is a game Galway can win.

Mayo will be bulling for a win on home turf as they will need to collect points at home with a hateful four games against top opposition to come in the league. They face some exhausting trips as they are away to Tyrone, Derry, Kerry and Cork. None of those will be easy and John O’Mahony is around long enough to know you have to win your home games.

It should be a lively encounter, but my cúpla euro at evens will be on a Galway victory.

TG4 live football action

TG4’s live football league coverage for 2010 gets off to an exciting start this Sunday as All-Ireland champions Kerry take on Dublin in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. That game will be followed by full deferred coverage of the clash between Galway and Mayo from Castlebar.


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