Alan Mulholland’s county u-21 footballers kicked off a productive weekend for Galway football when winning the Connacht title for the first time in six years at Pearse Stadium on Saturday.
When the Tribesmen last won the provincial title at this level, they went on to win the All Ireland under the captaincy of Alan Burke and hopefully that will happen in 2011 too.
However the Munster champions (either Cork or Kerry who played last night ) will have a view on that matter when the sides meet on Saturday week.
Roscommon were disappointing, and they never really showed up in what was a free-ridden and poor game.
Jimmy Gacquin’s charges could only muster two points in each half and their attacking strategy was to pump long hopeful balls into Cathal Shine at full-forward.
He was very well marshalled by the team captain Colin Forde and, once that outlet was closed, Roscommon seemed to lose all semblance or pattern of play. Based on the paucity of their display , it begs the question, how did they defeat Mayo?
Mulholland’s young Galway men produced some impressive displays, including the pacey Gary Sweeney who caught the eye at corner back and who plays with great flamboyance.
Johnny Duane held the centre well at six and read the game well, while both Tomas Flynn and Fiontán Ó Curraoin did some good things around the middle.
With two tall men at eight and nine, a team has “jumpers” and will contest all the kick-outs which gives Manus Breathnach something to aim at and half-backs and half-forwards regular breaks to forage for. Ó Curraoin caught one or two beauties and it is a partnership that has genuine potential.
Mark Hehir hit some nice points from centre-forward and both Conor Doherty and Michael Boyle worked hard and hit good scores from the wings.
Danny Cummins was lively in the corner and showed great patience to stay calm despite taking some heavy punishment and picking up an outrageous yellow card when he had been badly sinned against by Neil Collins after bravely punching a ball over the bar.
Patrick Sweeney notched 0-2 from full-forward and threw himself around a bit, but he will have to be more efficient and pose more of a consistent threat in the semi-final. Adrian Murphy took his goal coolly and impressed in the short time he was on.
Man-of-the-match Tomás Fahy had a storming game at number seven and it was great to see him showing the verve and attacking style that made his name a few seasons ago at minor level and with Killererin.
His composed point in the second half was one of the highlights of the game and hopefully he will carry his marvellous form into the coming months.
The team management of Alan Mulholland, Donál Ó Fatharta and Alan Flynn will feel they have more in the tank and can improve on what they produced last Saturday. They will face a significant step up in class in the All Ireland semi-final but they have some experienced and successful players in their ranks, with Forde, Fahy, Doherty and JJ Greaney all having won All-Ireland minor medals on the field of play in 2007.
Galway: M Breathnach, G Sweeney, C Forde, Cpt, A Tierney, J Moore, J Duane, T Fahy 0-1, T Flynn, F O’ Curraoin, C Doherty, M Hehir 0-3 (1f ), M Boyle 0-1, D Cummins 0-2, P Sweeney 0-2, E Monaghan. Subs: A Murphy (1-0 ) for Monaghan (50 ), JJ Greaney for P Sweeney (58 )