Footballers seek to build winning momentum against Westmeath

The Galway footballers will head to Cusack Park in Mullingar on Sunday in good spirits to take on Westmeath (2pm ) in the second round of the National Football League.

While Galway enjoyed an impressive win by 2-13 to 1-12 over a disappointing Meath team last weekend at Pearse Stadium, Westmeath also had a good start, defeating Laois by five points (1-12 to 0-10 ).

Their new manager Tom Cribben was delighted with that win as his team was a hot relegation favourite prior to the game, and he is placing importance on his side’s need to continue winning their home games if they are to consolidate their position in division two.

In that context he will have his charges on full alert for the challenge that Galway will pose.

Westmeath's goal against Laois was scored by impressive wing-back James Dolan in injury time in the first half and was the key moment in the game. They had other impressive scoring displays from team captain Ger Egan at centre-forward with four points and corner forward Ray Connellan who hit 0-5 from frees.

Galway supporters would have been pleased with their team's purposeful display in their victory over the Royals. The team was set up well and appeared to be playing to a pre-ordained game plan with individual players knowing what they had to do.

Brian O' Donoghue was solid between the sticks, although a lot of passes were given back to him by his defenders and that type of reverse play to the goalie will not do against better opposition.

Colin Forde could be pleased with his league return at full-back, although he was helped by some abysmal handling and shooting by his direct opponent Michael Newman, whose poor display reflected the paucity of Meath's disjointed performance which left their manager Mick O' Dowd dismayed.

Galway's half-back line of O' Donnell, Bradshaw and Paul Varley did well.

The Cortoon man looked lively, strong in possession, and shot two lovely points into the bargain too. Bradshaw did well at six, and his ability to break the tackle and bring out ball was good to observe. It will be interesting to see how he develops in that role.

Fiontán Ó Curraoin caught some good ball and linked play reasonably well around the middle, while his midfield partner Tom Flynn did some good things, but needs to improve his work-rate and be more consistent over the full 70 minutes.

Up front Sean Denvir worked hard and used his possession well at wing-forward. Inside him Danny Cummins was a livewire - any time a forward scores 1-3 from play, they can be happy with his day's work.

Shane Walsh hit one stunning point and his stride and pace when in possession is a thing of beauty. He needs to move the ball on faster sometimes, but he is trying to do the right thing and has the sublime skills to be a really serious player.

Patrick Sweeney made a big impression on his introduction and his sheer power and direct approach in front of goal is a definite weapon to have in a team's arsenal. The maroon fans in the stand loved the way that he ploughed through a chink of light between two Meath players to win a very scorable free at one stage.

Sweeney does not contemplate taking a long journey if there is a shorter route to goal, and such directness is admirable, even if a little more tact may be required against a massed defence.

Overall it was a good day’s work and a good start to the new regime. Team manager Kevin Walsh was happy to get two points on the board and a positive performance under their belt.

“It is important to win the home games, but it’s important also to have a performance whether we’re winners or not. We need to make this team as strong as we can in the areas where maybe we are weak, and if you do those things properly, you will probably get the results.”

There is unlikely to be any major surgery to the team that started the last day. Paul Conroy and Johnny Duane are making good progress with their injuries which is another positive and will add competition in the squad when they are back fully fit.

Another victory in four days’ time would set Galway up nicely for a solid league campaign.

The referee on Sunday is Meath's Cormac Reilly.

After Sunday the footballers have a three-week break and then it is Laois in Tuam Stadium on March 1.

Galway v Meath: B O'Donoghue, D O'Neill, C Forde, C Sweeney, P Varley (0-02 ), G Bradshaw, G O'Donnell (Cpt ), F Ó Curraoin (0-01 ), T Flynn, S Denvir (0-01 ), E Hoare (0-02, 0-01f ), E Tierney, D Cummins (1-03 ), A Varley (0-01 ), S Walsh (1-03, 0-01f ). Subs used: P Sweeney, M Martin, C Mulryan, D Kyne.


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