The Galway senior footballers have the opportunity of bouncing straight back division to one this Sunday when they face Kildare in Pearse Stadium (2.30pm ) in the final round of the league.
A draw on Sunday would see Kieran McGeeney’s side promoted to division one for 2013, but if Galway, who are 13/8 outsiders, win, they will be heading to Croke Park to face Mickey Harte’s team in the division two final in three weeks.
The Galway management team said at the start of the league that consolidating their position in division two was their priority. That has been achieved and now they are only 70 minutes and a win away from promotion which is bonus.
Galway team manager Alan Mulholland is delighted to be in with a chance of promotion and he is hopeful they can take the game to Kidare.
“Our performance against Monaghan in the second half was very encouraging, but we will need to improve if we are to beat Kildare. They are a very slick and impressive outfit and, after three years in division two, they will be highly motivated coming to Pearse Stadium.
“A win on Sunday would be a big boost and a possible league final in three weeks against Tyrone would be a big help with our preparations for the Connacht championship. We feel we are in bonus territory now and, if we can get a win on Sunday, it would be fantastic. We have obtained our primary objective of being solid and very competitive in division two and, if we can get promoted to division one for next year, all the better. We are really looking forward to the game and we are going to give this Sunday a right rattle.”
The starting team to face Kildare was due to be announced last night and both Keith Kelly and Nicky Joyce are available for selection. Niall Coleman has a slight hamstring strain from a club game last weekend, but he is expected to be available.
The Galway defence is expected to be similar to that which lined out against Monaghan, with team captain Finian Hanley flanked by Colin Forde and Kieran McGrath and a half-back line of Gareth Bradshaw, Johnny Duane and Gary O’ Donnell.
The management team have several options up front and it is a situation with which Mulholland is glad to be presented.
“Padraic [Joyce], Danny[Cummins] and Micheal[Boyle] all came on and did well the last day and guys like Cormac Bane and Mike Martin are also in the mix. We have nine or 10 players pushing very hard to get a starting spot in the forwards and it is difficult to come down on the starting six. However it is a good position to be in and having genuine competition for places is a very healthy way to have things.
“If we are going to do well this Sunday and later in the year, we need to have a big panel to pick from and players who can come in and make a really positive contribution. Hopefully players like Conor Doherty and Sean Armstrong will be back to full fitness in the next few weeks too and they will give us more options up front. The more players going well and fully fit, the better.”
Mulholland knows getting out of division two can be difficult and he is eager the team takes the chance when it presents itself this weekend.
“We have one game to get promoted and Sunday is a great opportunity for us. If we were to be in division one next February, against the likes of Kerry, Cork and Dublin, it would focus people’s minds next September to Christmas and that would be a good thing. The team is developing all the time and this Sunday is just another step on that path.”