Footballers are on the right track

The eyes have it: Injured Galway player Michael Meehan, left, celebrates with teammate Garreth Bradshaw after Galway beat Dublin in the Allianz Football National League clash.

The eyes have it: Injured Galway player Michael Meehan, left, celebrates with teammate Garreth Bradshaw after Galway beat Dublin in the Allianz Football National League clash.

It was almost 10pm on Saturday night when Callinan’s coach pulled out from Parnell Park in Donnycarney. And there were a lot of contented men on that bus. On the back window read the banner – TEAM GALWAY.

We trailed them for a few miles as we headed for the M50 and they went for their well-deserved post-match meal. After defeating Dublin in a fine sporting contest, and a good road ahead of us, all seemed well in the world.

We even indulged ourselves and spoke of bigger victories in bigger stadia in the months ahead. It was that kind of display, that kind of night. I was impressed with the performance they had produced in defeating Dublin for the first time in many years in the capital. The way they won and the unity of purpose within their ranks was notable. They had shown a lot of guts, character, work-rate and no little style in winning a game they looked likely to lose with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Dublin had just scored 0-5 without reply to level the game. They had all the momentum and they looked the more likely team to collect the points.

It is hard to buck home advantage in the national league, but Galway did so with aplomb when they refused to bend the knee. Three late Eoin Concannon points and another by Gary Sice silenced the home supporters.

It was a fine victory and means Galway will play division one football again in 2011, as well as looking more robust and hearty for the coming championship.

As team captain Joe Bergin pointed out after the win, the team is “on the right track.”

“We are delighted with the win, our second in a row. We answered the questions asked and came through with a few late scores. We have self-belief and we are learning not to panic on the ball. Eoin Concannon hit a few big scores and his eight points were outstanding. There is great competition for places, and it is fantastic not to be depending on guys like Michael Meehan, Sean Armstrong and Padraic Joyce to get a big win.”

Bergin was absolutely correct.

Different players really stood up and were counted last Saturday night, and all over the pitch there was a terrific sense of togetherness.

Players like Gareth Bradshaw, who was outstanding all through the contest; Matthew Clancy, who was heavily involved in setting up some of the last game winning scores; late call-up Kieran Fitzgerald; Gary Sice, who excelled at wing-forward, scoring two fine points from play; and the selfless work of Fiachra Breathnach all made big contributions. Likewise the early save by Eoin Ó Conghaile to stop a Dublin goal was vital.

However it was the eight points, four in each half, from Eoin Concannon that really caught the eye. For Galway to be successful in the Connacht championship and beyond they will need new blood to come in and lay down markers of intent and the St James’ man did that over the past two weekends. He improved and grew in confidence as the game wore on and his last two points from play were tremendous scores. Fair play to him and hopefully he can continue in that vein of form for the coming weeks and months.

Joe Kernan was understandably delighted with his team’s performance. “Nothing beats hard work and the lads showed a very impressive work-rate. There is an awful lot of work to be done, but the self-confidence and belief of the panel is improving and that is very important.”

*Galway will play Derry in Pearse Stadium in their last game in the league on April 11.


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