Galway supporters were delighted to be treated to a fine display by Alan Mulholland’s men last Sunday against a disappointing Roscommon outfit in the Connacht Senior Football Championship.
Galway were highly motivated, well organised, and played a refreshing brand of direct football with Paul Conroy an effective target man that had the Roscommon full-back line in real trouble from the off.
It was Galway’s first win in the Connacht championship on Irish soil since 2009 and thankfully there were signs of genuine progress being made under the new management team. As a result of this facile 3-15 to 0-10 victory, the team will be competing with Mumford and Sons for top billing in Salthill on Saturday, June 9.
Times have yet to be decided, but the concert is due to take place in Salthill Park and the footballers will take on Kevin Walsh’s Sligo in Pearse Stadium in the Connacht semi-final on the same day so there should be a good vibe around the city that weekend.
While acknowledging that Roscommon produced an inept performance, there were still lots of positives in last weekend’s win.
Paul Conroy scored 1-4 from play from full-forward and was most people’s choice as man of the match. It was great to see the young St James’ player looking so confident and strong on the edge of the square and he had a very fine game.
Five years after his All-Ireland minor success, he showed genuine leadership last Sunday and took his goal splendidly.
Other Galway players who impressed were Joe Bergin, who played with great heart and dominated midfield. Gareth Bradshaw bombed up and down his wing all day and his first point after only 14 seconds set the tone for the day, while Johnny Duane looked comfortable at centre-back.
It was also fantastic to see Michael Meehan’s warmly-embraced return to football after 10 months away from the game with injury. The Caltra star has had a really tough few years with injury and it was good to see him back in championship action and looking sharp. The way he set up Gary Sice for his goal also showed he has lost none of his peripheral vision and selflessness.
Pleasing application and work rate
Not surprisingly manager Alan Mulholland was pleased with the side’s application and work-rate.
"We are going to draw confidence out of the win. We are not going to say ‘look we have to pretend we didn’t play well’. It was fantastic to play well and hopefully we build on that and play better the next day."
He was particularly pleased with the work-rate of all the players who saw action.
“All the lads worked tremendously hard and they did everything that was asked of them. It was a real team effort and we are very pleased with how the team performed.”
Mulholland’s only concern was the middle third of the game which saw Roscommon turn an 11-point deficit into six. But, having put themselves on a pedestal so early in the game with goals from Hehir and Conroy, it was inevitable there was going to be a maroon dip.
That Galway went 20 minutes without a score before Conroy lofted over his second point of the game seven minutes into the second half is something that can be looked at over the next week or two. Roscommon had scored 0-5 in that period.
However Mulholland said Galway had some aces to quell any potential Roscommon resistance.
"It was a bit worrying in the middle third of the game. They came back into it and we looked a bit ropey, but we were able to bring in PJ [Joyce] and Michael Meehan off the bench and that seemed to calm us down a little bit and see out the last 20 minutes."
Sligo in three weeks will be a different proposition and it will be fascinating to see Mulholland and Kevin Walsh, his former teammate at many levels, trying to outthink and outwit each other.
Galway will probably start as hot favourites based on last Sunday’s performance, but the Galway players and management will know Sligo are a very experienced outfit and they have some very good ball players.
They will know that the Yeats’ men will not be coming to Pearse Stadium just to make up the numbers and they will have a plan in place to counteract the offensive threat that the likes of Conroy, Hehir, Sice. Joyce, Meehan, Armstrong and Burke pose.
Galway: A Faherty; K McGrath 0-1, F Hanley, K Kelly; G Bradshaw 0-2, J Duane, G O'Donnell; J Bergin 0-2, G Higgins; G Sice 1-3 (2fs ), D Burke, T Flynn; S Armstrong 0-1, P Conroy 1-4, M Hehir. Subs: M Meehan 0-2 (1f ) for Armstrong 47; P Joyce for Burke 52; T Fahy for O'Donnell 53; D Cummins for Hehir 54; M Boyle for Sice 66.