Footballers focus on Meath as three in a row beckons

Galway's Michael Daly and Kwevin Harnett of Clare in action from the Allianz Football league game at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.					 Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Michael Daly and Kwevin Harnett of Clare in action from the Allianz Football league game at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

It has been quite a while since any Galway senior football team won three league games on the trot. However, there is an opportunity to do just that this weekend when Galway take on Meath this Sunday in Navan (2pm ) in round four of the NFL.

Galway enter the match after two solid performances and victories over first Fermanagh, and then Clare last Sunday in Pearse Stadium, while in the shock result of the day, Meath lost to Down.

Kevin Walsh and his management team will have warned their players this week to remain focused on the job and also be wary of a possible backlash from the Royals, following that shock 1-13 to 0-14 defeat last weekend away to Down.

It was the Northern county's first league win in 22 months and a big surprise in many quarters as they had lost their first two games this season to Fermanagh and Clare and looked destined for division three in 2018 until their victory over Meath.

No doubt Meath manager and former All-Ireland winning manager with Ballyboden St Enda's, Andy McEntee, will have laid it on the line to his players that such a display this Sunday will not suffice, especially in front of their home supporters.

He will look to team captain Graham Reilly, Donal Keogan and impressive corner forward Donal Lenihan to lead the way against the visitors this weekend.

Galway hit 3-12

However the Galway panel should be in good form heading up the motorway on Sunday morning following their 3-12 to 1-11 win over Clare.

That success sees Galway currently top of the division two table on five points, with Kildare one behind on four points after Cian O'Neill's side suffered a disappointing one-point defeat to Derry last Sunday.

The Galway forwards, who were missing the injured Damien Comer (foot injury ), used the first-half wind advantage to rack up a 2-8 to 0-5 interval lead, with the goals coming from Eamon Brannigan and the returned Shane Walsh.

There was a good pace to the Galway attack in that first half with Mountbellew's Michael Daly catching the eye with some powerful running and his clubmate Barry McHugh efficient and confident looking with his free-taking.

Admittedly Clare were without their captain and main ball winner around the middle, Gary Brennan, due to club hurling commitments, but that said, both Paul Conroy and Fiontán Ó Curraoin did well around the middle, with Fiontán getting a good few marks and linking play effectively.

New goalkeeper Rory Lavelle picked out his outfield players well in the main and made a few impressive saves too. He is growing into the position, while it was good to see full-back David Walsh get another 70 minutes of league football under his belt.

Gareth Bradshaw looked lively at centre-back and hit 1-2 from play in an impressive over-all display. However he and his half-back colleagues of Gary O'Donnell and Johnny Heaney will face much tougher challenges in the coming rounds.

Stronger panel

A big positive for Galway this season is greater options all round the field. There are a good few new players such like Daly, McHugh, Lavelle, Walsh and Luke Burke who have broken into the starting 15, and with Michael Lundy and Seán Armstrong back on the panel this year, Shane Walsh having recovered from injury, and young Sean Kelly and Peter Cooke also in the mix, there is strong competition for places, and management have real options of the bench in every game.

Damien Comer had to miss the win over Clare last weekend with a foot injury and it is unsure if he will be available to play any part next Sunday in Navan, while Danny Cummins has been troubled by a hamstring injury.

There has been little between Galway and Meath in the league in the past few years. They drew (0-15 to 1-12 ) in last year’s league, while Galway won (2-13 to 1-13 ) in 2015.

A single point win would suffice this Sunday and if the footballers could manage that feat, they would go into their week off before they face Derry in Tuam on March 19 in really good shape at the top of the division and harbouring genuine ambitions of promotion.

To do that they will need to produce 70 minutes of really hard graft against Meath and keep their focus on the "one-game-at-a-time" philosophy that is serving them well at the moment.


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