Do or die for Galway footballers on Saturday against Wexford

The Galway football panel and the management team will have to dust themselves down and try to shake off their collective disappointment after last Saturday’s one-point defeat to Sligo in the Connacht semi-final.

They need to get themselves focused quickly for a tough test this Saturday against Wexford at 2pm in Pearse Stadium in round two of the qualifiers.

It will be Galway’s third weekend in succession in action. As the hurlers found out last Sunday, that is not the ideal way to prepare for important championship fixtures, particularly if with injury worries.

Galway will probably be without one of their best players and team captain Michael Meehan, who suffered an ankle injury just before half time last weekend. He is expected to be ruled out with ligament damage.

Full-back Finian Hanley was also withdrawn last Saturday against Sligo with a leg injury and management are keeping their fingers crossed the Salthill man will be able to start.

Nobody should underestimate the challenge facing Galway this Saturday.

Wexford are not a bad side and they are particularly difficult to defeat in Wexford Park, so at least Galway are fortunate to have home advantage.

In 2009 Wexford had a poor year in the championship and only won a single game against Offaly in round one of the qualifiers.

They were defeated 2-12 to 0-11 by Kildare in the Leinster championship and then they went out after a replay to Roscommon in Hyde Park in round two of the qualifiers on a score-line of 0-11 to 0-8..

Their best known players are Mattie Forde, Ciarán Lyng, PJ Banville, Redmond Barry, Colm Morris, Eric Bradley and David Murphy.

Manager Jason Ryan is a very positive individual and he has his team in good shape. They almost beat Dublin in this year’s Leinster championship before going out in extra time and they will have gained confidence from that performance.

They will have prepared well and they had a facile win over London 4-22 to 0-9 in round one of the qualifiers which gave them the ideal opportunity to regroup and set new objectives for the year after the defeat to Dublin.

Wexford in 2008

Wexford have some pedigree and they had a really great run in the 2008 championship, reaching the Leinster final before being beaten by Dublin.

Then they took off in the qualifiers and ended up in an All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone.

I was at that game and they put it right up to the 2008 All-Ireland champions before going down by six points, 0-23 to 1-14. However it was only in the last quarter that Tyrone finally finished them off.

Ciarán Lyng was their top scorer in that game and he ended the 70 minutes with 1-06.

Ryan and his side will be keen to replicate that experience and try to build up some momentum in the qualifiers this season and see where it takes them.

They have had a few weeks to prepare for this tie and have had the major advantage of being able to study both Galway and Sligo closely over the past forthnight since the draw was made.

Those are major advantages and it is difficult to call which county’s name will be in the hat for round three on Sunday evening. However, I believe Galway have it all to do.

It will be a real test for Joe Kernan to see if he can rally the troops for this encounter. Should Galway lose at home to Wexford, it would be another major blow to the morale of the loyal football supporters of the maroon and white.

The defeat a few years ago to Westmeath in Pearse Stadium under Peter Forde in the qualifiers was a real low, and hopefully we will not have to deal with that kind of a defeat this Saturday.

At least the side showed a bit more form and commitment in the Connacht semi-final replay and they will have to build on that if they are to get over this hurdle on Saturday.

If Galway lose on Saturday, it will be the end of their season. All the hype and exhilaration of Joe Kernan’s arrival last October will count for nought.

• Galway against Wexford at 2pm is live on Network 2.


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