The Galway footballers will face Laois in three weeks’ time in Tuam stadium (Sunday March 1 ) and a win in that game would set them up for a serious tilt at promotion to division one for 2016.
They will still have two more home games to come after the Laois tie (against Cavan and Kildare ), and that puts them in a strong position, especially as they have shown real heart, energy and confidence in their two outings to date. The panel will be strengthened over the coming weeks by the return to full training of several players, including Paul Conroy.
Kevin Walsh’s side has full points after two wins over Meath and Westmeath, and last Sunday was a top-class result especially in Cusack Park.
They came through by the narrowest of margins, 2-13 to 2-12.
The home side did have a late chance or two and were denied a goal by a terrific save by substitute keeper Manus Breathnach, and perhaps they should have been given a penalty too by Meath referee Cormac Reilly.
However, to the victors the spoils. Such details are irrelevant once the final whistle is blown. The bottom line is that Galway won a game that they might have drawn or lost on a different Sunday. And winning is what league games in February are all about. How you do it does not really matter.
Walsh was understandably pleased with the victory and the nature of the team’s performance.
"There was some good, hard football in the game. Westmeath will probably feel they should have got a point, but at this stage for both camps, it is to get guys wanting to win, wanting to be there and performing well. I think it was a good game overall and it was a very good result for us.”
Galway are one of only five teams in the four divisions to have maximum points after two outings – Cork, Fermanagh, Armagh and Offaly are the others, and from that perspective it has been an impressive start to the NFL for the new management team and the squad.
Another significant boost was the display of Patrick Sweeney, who hit 1-5 from play and was also fouled for a penalty which was dispatched by Shane Walsh. The Killanin man impressed in a cameo role against Meath, but he really stole the show last weekend with a display of power, poise and purposeful scoring. He looked like a man who really enjoyed his 70 minutes.
His manager, who knows his temperament and abilities inside out from club football, was full of praise.
“Patrick had a massive game. He caused an awful lot of problems for the Westmeath defence and did very well. Cathal [Sweeney] also did well for us in the backs and Danny Cummins [who shot 0-3 from play] put in a tremendous shift up front. But really we had leaders all over the field and that was very important.”
Considering two of the starting forwards, Enda Tierney and Shane Walsh, did not score from play and were both withdrawn, 2-13 was a very good tally to reach.
The team has hit 4-26 in the two games and, if they keep hitting around the 20-point mark total in their games, Galway will win a good few more games over the coming months. There is work to do from a defensive nature, but that said, the mid-term school report is positive.
Now Walsh and his selectors can go to Tullamore on Saturday if they so wish to run the eye over potential additions to their panel from the Corofin set-up.
Top of the table, four points in the bag, and three home games to come - not a bad place to be in at all.
And here is a question. When was the last time Galway won the first two games in the National League?