Galway footballers face a long road ahead

Galway captain Paul Conroy under pressure from Kerry's Michael Geaney in the All Ireland senior championship quarter-finals at Croke Park on Sunday. 
Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway captain Paul Conroy under pressure from Kerry's Michael Geaney in the All Ireland senior championship quarter-finals at Croke Park on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Progress has been made by the Galway footballers over the past few months, and their performances have improved since the league, but based on their 1-20 to 2-10 defeat to Kerry last Sunday in Dublin, the road ahead is still long and winding.

It will take patience and investment by all stakeholders to bring Galway back to a top tier team, if that is to happen.

Kerry won easily in the end in this All-Ireland quarter-final. They scored five of the last six scores, and had the match progressed any longer, the gap looked likely to widen, rather than narrow.

In the last 10 minutes many of the Galway lads looked out on their feet and the Kerry subs, especially Barry John Keane who scored 0-3, made big contributions.

It is reasonable to say, too, that at 1-5 to no score after 17 minutes, the Kerry players looked at each other and thought, "This is going to be a handy game" - "these boys aren't up to much".

Once a team or even a few of the players involved on that team start to think it is going to be a day on "easy-street", it can be very dangerous.

To be fair to the Galway players they did rally after Thomas Flynn's terrific individual goal.

It was badly needed and the Athenry man did superbly to sashay through the middle of the Kerry rearguard to rattle the net.

Michael Lundy, who had a superb game and has been a real find this year, followed up a good Gareth Bradshaw point with a marvellous goal in the second half and, when Shane Walsh notched another fine point, Galway had hit 1-2 on the bounce and the game was down to two points.

Glimmer of hope

For an instant there was a glimmer of hope that the implausible could happen and had Damien Comer spotted a free Galway player in space rather than taking the shot, perhaps Galway could have hit the front.

However that shaft of light disappeared almost immediately when Paul Geaney hit two good scores to get Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men back in control.

With Barry John Keane and Kieran O'Leary buzzing around at that stage and with massive gaps in the Galway rearguard, there was only one inevitable outcome.

Kerry now march on to meet Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 24 and Galway have a few weeks to contemplate what to do next.

Team manager Alan Mulholland has served his initial three-year term and nobody really knows for sure if he, or his selectors, Paul Clancy and Declan Meehan, will be at the helm for 2015.

Mulholland was disappointed to bow out to Kerry, and felt that giving them a 1-5 head start was a key issue.

"You can't give them a head start like we did. We did well to get back into it," he says.

"Ten championship games in two years is good experience, but to get to an All-Ireland quarter-final wasn't the height of our ambitions this year, so we are disappointed with the result."

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