Galway should progress but only after a battle

Two years ago in Markievicz Park - the last time the sides met in championship - Sligo won by 1-14 to 0-16. It was a replay and it had taken a super goal by Eoin Concannon (St James ) in Pearse Stadium to even give Galway a second day out.

Therefore it is slightly surprising to see Sligo at odds of 5/1 for Saturday evening’s Pearse Stadium clash, while Galway are boiling favourites at 1/6. Sligo are +5 in the handicap betting.

With odds such as those available, it is easy to imagine that Kevin Walsh will not find it too hard to motivate his team to tear into the fray on Saturday evening.

Much has changed since that game - Joe Kernan and Tomás O’ Flatharta spring to mind - and Galway have a new home-grown management team in place. The mood is positive, especially after the side’s display in Hyde Park.

However that “happy” mood can change fast and team selector Alan Flynn of Tuam Stars is very conscious of the challenge Galway face this Saturday evening.

“Sligo are a very experienced and organised side and we will be treating them with the utmost respect,” Flynn says. “We know that if we do not perform to our best, we will be in trouble. Sligo are always very difficult to beat, as Galway learnt to their cost just two years ago.

“We are under no illusions about how tough this Saturday will be and we are expecting a battle. With all due respect to New York, Sligo will have been planning for this game from a long way out and they will be coming to Pearse Stadium looking for a win.”

That said, Flynn is pleased with how things have been going in the Galway camp and the mood is positive ahead of Saturday’s big clash.

“Thankfully things have been going very well and everyone came through their recent club games injury free. We would like to have Niall [Coleman] and Conor [Doherty] back to full fitness, but with a panel of 30 you are always going to have a few niggles.

“We had an A versus B game last weekend, and a few new lads were in for the game. We had a look at Shane Walsh [Kilkerrin/Clonberne] and Conor Holleran [Salthill]. It is always good to have a few new players in to keep things fresh and see how they are going. Hopefully we can continue to do that over the rest of the season. We had also hoped to see Adrian Murphy [Kilconly] in that game too, as he did very well in the club championship, but he was unavailable the evening it was on.”

Flynn, who managed Tuam Stars to the county final last year, expects to see Saturday becoming a 20-man effort.

“To beat Sligo we will need guys to come off the bench and make a positive contribution. If we play to the intensity we aim to, we will need fresh legs to come in and keep the intensity high. We were pleased with how the Roscommon game went, but no two games are the same and we will probably have to mix it up and vary our game for Saturday evening. No doubt Sligo will have studied our style in the win in Hyde Park and will have come up with a strategy to counteract it. The players need to be able to adapt to whatever it takes on Saturday to get the win.”

Flynn also asks the Galway supporters to try to make the effort to come out and support their team on Saturday evening.

“It makes a huge difference to a team if they have good home support. We would ask as many Galway people as possible to come out and support the team this weekend. The lads have worked incredibly hard over the last few months and it would be fantastic if there was a big Galway crowd on Saturday evening to cheer them on. The more maroon and white there is on view, the better.”

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