Footballers take on Laois under lights in crunch tie

After defeats to Meath and Donegal, the Galway senior footballers will strive to get their first points on the board when they face Laois in O’Moore Park on Saturday evening (7pm ) in a crucial league game.

The Galway panel will have been boosted by the impressive performances of Joss Moore, Seán Armstrong, Paul Conroy and Gareth Bradshaw in Connacht's win over Ulster last Sunday in the inter-provincial final.

Danny Cummins and Eoin Concannon also saw action as substitutes in that victory and Cummins looked particularly lively when on the field of play.

It is a little too early in the league to use the cliché ‘A must-win game’, but if Alan Mulholland's team were to lose on Saturday, then relegation to division three for next season would become a distinct probability, rather than a possibility.

Laois are no world beaters, but they will have been buoyed by their 2-8 to 0-11 win over Louth (away ) in round two.

They are captained this season by veteran Ross Munnelly, who is their lone survivor from their famous Leinster title success in 2003.

Munnelly scored 1-1 in their 2-13 to 1-13 success over Kildare in that Leinster final 11 years ago, and he is still a good inter-county wing-forward, and obviously a player who is respected by their new manager Tomás Ó Flatharta.

Laois have other good players in John O' Loughlin, Mark Timmons and Donie Kingston. They are all players Galway selector Paul Clancy will know from his time as a selector with the Laois team, when he worked alongside former manager Justin McNulty.

Galway were due to train last night (Wednesday ) and, apart from Finian Hanley who was injured in the Donegal tie, they are likely to have a full hand from which to select.

The Galway management team will be looking to key players such as team captain Paul Conroy, Gary Sice, Johnny Duane, Seán Armstrong, James Kavanagh and Gareth Bradshaw, to show the way to the younger players on Saturday evening.

The time for talking is over, and those guys really need to lead the show. Every team needs four or five genuine leaders who do the business on a consistent basis and Galway need that too if they are to progress.

On the plus side Cortoon's Paul Varley was lively and inventive in the game against Donegal at wing-back, and he looked like a young player who would improve if given a few games in that role.

Likewise Joss Moore (Mountbellew ) has really started to blossom and he looks likely to man the full-back role in Finian Hanley's absence and he could be a player who can become a lynchpin in the Galway rearguard.

Laois are slight favourites with the bookies to win on Saturday and, considering they beat Louth the last day out and are home, that is entirely logical.

The O'Moore men are 4/5 to win, with Galway at 5/4. The draw is 15/2.

Galway are at home to Down in Tuam Stadium on Sunday week (March 9 ) and they cannot afford to go into that game with nothing from three games.

We have to assume the Galway panel will know the vital importance of Saturday's clash, and from that perspective they should be well up for the fray.

Assuming that they are, then the only question is whether they are good enough to beat Laois?

It will be very tough, and Laois will have targeted this game from a long way out, but, with their backs to the wall, I think the Galway team can get a result.


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