Footballers face a difficult test against Sligo

Eddie Hoare, in action against London’s Martin Carroll, is expected to play another key role against Sligo on Saturday.

Eddie Hoare, in action against London’s Martin Carroll, is expected to play another key role against Sligo on Saturday.

Galway are hot favourites next Saturday to beat Sligo in Markievicz Park (7pm ) in the Connacht semi-final, but why are so many people speaking so confidently about Galway's chances this weekend?

Admittedly, Sligo had an underwhelming league campaign this season and a torrid championship in 2013, but they have circled the wagons for next Saturday night and they will believe they have a great opportunity to grab a big win championship win this weekend.

The harsh reality is that Sligo's record against Galway over the past few championship outings has been very good.

The Yeats men have drawn one and won two of the last three summer meetings, and they will not fear Galway, nor should they.

Several players such as Ross Donovan, Charlie Harrison, Adrian Marren, David Kelly, and Mark Breheny will remember defeating Galway in a Connacht final in Hyde Park by1-10 to 0-12 back in 2007 too.

Peter Ford was the Galway manager that year, and surprisingly only Finian Hanley from the 19 players who saw action that day is still on the Galway panel.

The last time the sides met in championship was in 2012 at Pearse Stadium when Sligo, under Kevin Walsh, won by 2-14 to 0-15. Adrian Marren was the key man for Sligo in that tie, finishing with an impressive 2-6. Others who hit the target included Alan Costello, David Kelly and Mark Breheny.

Interestingly Galway’s top scorer was Mark Hehir (0-7 ), while Gary Sice also notched three points and Michael Meehan one. Two years on and none of those three men will feature this weekend for different reasons.

Galway team manager Alan Mulholland does not pull any punches in his assessment of what his team needs to do this Saturday in front of the Sky Sport cameras to get a win.

"We need to perform and produce a very good display. We have some very good players and, if we play to our potential, we will be able for the challenge. We were very focused for the trip to Ruislip and we have to bring the same focus to Markievicz Park.

"Hopefully we will have a bit of momentum and confidence from the win over London and we can build on that. Sligo will be very hard to beat, but we have a lot of belief in our squad."

Galway are expected to name their team tonight (Thursday ) and it is unlikely to contain too many changes from the side that easily defeated London by 3-17 to 0-7 last month.

Obviously Johnny Duane will not be available for Saturday's clash after being released from the squad and that will leave a spot at corner back, and the ongoing injury problems affecting Joss Moore (knee ) and Keith Kelly (ankle ) leave the management team a bit stretched for options in the full-back line.

There is also genuine concern over James Kavanagh's availability due to a niggling hamstring injury and he had to sit out Milltown's easy win over Menlough in the championship.

On the plus side team captain Paul Conroy did take part in last weekend's training session and he may be able to play a role at some stage this weekend.

Conroy is a key player for Galway and the sooner he is back to full match fitness the better for Galway's chances of a good championship run.

The spine of the Galway team will probably include Finian Hanley at full-back, Gary O' Donnell at six, Fiontán Ó Curraoin and Tom Flynn at midfield, while up front Shane Walsh, Michéal Lundy, Eddie Hoare and Danny Cummins will have key roles.

All those players will need to show genuine leadership and take the fight to the home team.

It is likely to be a tight game, and Galway will have to perform all over the field at a high level from the start if they are to advance to the Connacht final.

The winners will face Mayo in the Connacht final on July 13.


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