Footballers blessed with visit of Waterford in round two

Paul Conroy of Galway and Peter Acherson of Tipperary in Saturday’s All Ireland Football Championship round one qualifier at Pearse Stadium.  
Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Paul Conroy of Galway and Peter Acherson of Tipperary in Saturday’s All Ireland Football Championship round one qualifier at Pearse Stadium. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

The Galway footballers have again been lucky with another home draw, and another division four team, in round two of the qualifiers. They will face Waterford on Saturday at 2.30pm in Salthill.

After defeating Tipperary last weekend in Pearse Stadium by four points, Galway hardly expected to draw another home game, and one of the lesser lights as opposition once again.

However, Mayo's Billy Joe Padden, and Dublin's Colie Moran, who were in action on TV3 did the business for us, and "Gaillimh" was pulled first in the last tie to secure home advantage.

Waterford were heavily defeated by Kerry on the first weekend in June in the Munster championship and they have no real form to go by in the league during the year either.

They played in division four and lost four of their games in that division. Last year they went out in round one of the qualifiers by 1-17 to 0-15 to Wicklow, after extra-time in Aughrim.

Hence, Galway will be expected to win handily enough this weekend and build on their victory from last Saturday when they beat Tipperary by 1-12 to 0-11.

If things go to plan on Saturday, and with two wins under their belt, a bit more confidence, and a nice draw in round three, who knows where the team could end up?

One thing is for certain, the first half of the game last weekend in Pearse Stadium provided a perfect example of how Gaelic football can be a pig ugly field game when it is played in a certain way.

It was tedious stuff to watch.

Tipperary's instructions from their manager Peter Creedon was to flood their defence when Galway had possession and they regularly had up to 13 men behind the ball.

We know the template all too well at this stage of the evolution of our game, and it is not pretty.

Galway, not for the first time, found the massed defence practically impossible to figure out. Their confidence seemed understandably fragile after the hammering by Mayo and they were reduced to passing the ball laterally for long periods, and lacked any real penetration.

Indeed, the moans of exasperation and frustration from the home supporters at what was unfolding in front of them, were audible throughout the stand during that first half.

Galway's best scores came from the hard-working Seán Armstrong, who hit two fine efforts from distance, and the lively Danny Cummins, to see Galway lead by 0-6 to 0-5 at half time.

Galway were better after half-time

To be fair to Alan Mulholland, whatever he said at half time to his charges had the desired outcome and the players were much more purposeful and direct in the third quarter.

Driven by midfielder Paul Conroy, who had a very fine game, and the strong and direct running of centre-back Gary O'Donnell, who was a catalyst for the improvement, they really tore into the Tipp defence.

A flurry of scores followed and a fortuitous, but well taken goal by debutant Michael Farragher, saw Galway lead by 1-9 to 0-6. They looked well in control when Michael Meehan landed a very good effort to put them nine to the good.

However, Galway lack a ruthless streak and they allowed Tipp to hit 0-5 on the trot to bring it back to a four-point game and they also had a goal chance or two.

Indeed, the sizable home crowd (more than 3,600 came through the turnstiles ) were getting very twitchy by the time Kerry's Pádraig O' Sullivan blew up.

While it was a poor quality game, the Galway players and management will not care one iota. They, and most supporters I spoke to after the game, were just happy and relieved to have secured the team's first win in the qualifiers in nine years.

After seven defeats on the trot in the qualifiers, a win was all that really mattered.

Never mind the quality, just enjoy the win, seemed to be the overriding view.

Expect the same this Saturday before things get serious in round three when the winners from this tie will be in action on Saturday July 20.

Round three consists of the eight winners from round two, and will probably include teams like Tyrone, Derry or Down, Armagh, and Kildare or Louth.

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