Footballers face All Ireland champs

Fresh from their two point defeat to Cork on Saturday, the Galway footballers take on more Munster opposition this Sunday in Pearse Stadium at 2.30pm when they face All-Ireland champions Kerry in round four of the NFL.

Kerry collected their first points last weekend beating Derry by 0-15 to 1-09, with Kieran Donaghy, Colm Cooper and David Moran doing most of the scoring damage.

Galway have not beaten the Kingdom in competitive action for a long time and they will be keen to try to change that statistic this weekend.

Jack O’Connor’s panel is fairly threadbare at the moment with some established stars not back yet and others like Diarmuid Murphy, Darragh Ó Se, and Tadhg Kennelly having exited stage left. Mike McCarthy has also not rejoined the panel and is unlikely to do so at this stage, according to Jack O’Connor. Paul Galvin is also suspended, so the Kerry team has a few new faces in situ.

Even with a host of missing players, they still have a backbone of quality in the side and can call on the likes of Declan O’Sullivan, Cooper, Donaghy, Tom O’Sullivan, Aidan O’Mahony and Marc O’Sé to man the trenches.

Galway will be without Sean Armstrong (hamstring ), Tomás Fahy (ankle ), while there are serious doubts over the availability of Nicky Joyce and Gareth Bradshaw (calf ) which does not help Joe Kernan’s cause.

Galway were flattered to only lose by two scores to Conor Counihan’s side which led by 1-10 to 0-6 at half-time. It was a valiant fight-back by Galway, helped by a goal by the industrious Gary Sice, a huge work-rate by Paul Conroy, and the sustained excellence of Michael Meehan who gave Michael Shields a torrid time.

However a fair question to ask is: did Cork take their foot off the accelerator in the third quarter when they felt they had the game won?

The way Cork midfielder Pearse O’Neill was allowed to rampage down the middle of the Galway defence will be a cause of concern this week at Galway training and some method of stopping mobile midfielders will have to be found. O’Neill’s 1-02 from play were crucial scores and, if Galway are going to achieve anything this season, that kind of stuff must be cut out.

The Galway management normally selects the team tonight (Thursday ) and it is likely Matt Clancy and Gary Sice did enough on their introduction last weekend to merit starting slots.

Kerry are vulnerable at this time of the year and are not the same side that won the All-Ireland final last September, but based on Galway’s performance in the first half against Cork and their display against Mayo in the first round, the team’s loyal band of supporters will travel to Salthill on Sunday in hope, more so than expectation of victory.

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