Footballers need to play with passion and purpose

Galway manager Kevin Walsh has a number of tight selection calls to make ahead of his side's do or die clash with Donegal, in Sligo. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Galway manager Kevin Walsh has a number of tight selection calls to make ahead of his side's do or die clash with Donegal, in Sligo. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Galway senior footballers will take on Rory Gallagher's Donegal outfit on Saturday evening in round 4A of the football qualifiers at Markievicz Park at 7pm.

The stakes are high for both sides. The winners on Saturday will get at least one more championship outing in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, against either Kerry or Roscommon, whereas the losers will be out of the championship by close of business on Saturday night.

Galway supporters travelling up to Sligo in two days time will be expecting to see their team play with a lot more passion and intensity than they produced against Roscommon. The Galway squad seemed to be a lot more "up for" their Connacht semi-final clash with Mayo than they were for the Connacht final.

Controlled intensity needed

Unless Kevin Walsh's team can really get back to playing with controlled intensity and with belief in what they are doing this Saturday evening, they will find themselves in big trouble against a battle hardened Donegal outfit who are on the back of two wins in the qualifiers.

After their heavy 1-21 to 1-12 to Tyrone in the Ulster championship, Donegal, who are an established Division One team for the past few years, were fortunate to draw Longford in the qualifiers, and they won easily enough by 0-12 to 0-7.

In the next round they got Meath, and inspired by Ryan McHugh, Michael Murphy, and Paddy McBrearty, they beat the Royals by 1-15 to 1-14 in their Round 3 qualifier clash and they will have taken a good bit of belief and momentum from those victories.

They still have a few tough defenders from their All-Ireland winning side of 2012 and the likes of Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath, and Frank McGlynn are no shrinking violets. The Galway forwards will have to use pace and move the ball at speed to stay out of the clutches of that experienced trio; bringing the ball into traffic is not the way to beat Donegal.

Galway attackers such as Shane Walsh, who had a productive outing against Roscommon, Damien Comer, and Michael Daly will need to be at their best, scoring well and providing real leadership up front to get a match winning tally.

Selection decisions should be interesting

The Galway team is not due to be announced until this evening and, with changes expected from the side that started against Roscommon, it will be interesting to see if the likes of Danny Cummins or Seán Armstrong, if he is recovered from injury, are included up front from the start.

There has been a lot of talk about the Galway goalkeeping position and the management tactic of trying to go short from the kick-out since both the Mayo and Roscommon games.

While Ruairí Lavelle has started the first two championship games and had a good league campaign, it would be a big decision for the Galway management team to stick with him at number one, or will they bring back in Bernard Power who played in last year's championship between the sticks?

Other possible changes could take place in the full-back line and half-back line, both of which were under severe pressure in the Connacht final.

Would Johnny Heaney be better in a more orthodox wing-back role and Liam Silke in a man-marking role - picking up McBrearty in the full-back line?

Other useful subs against Roscommon, such as Michael Farragher and Ian Burke will also be hopeful of getting some championship game-time this weekend.

Regardless of who starts, or who comes on for Galway, the most important thing is that they play with passion, intensity and with conviction in what they are doing. Unless they really believe that they can win, their chances of doing so are not too good.

The bookies have Donegal as solid favourites and most national pundits are giving their vote to the Ulster men, who beat Galway two years ago at this juncture in Croke Park, to advance again. However, if Galway can play, to paraphrase former Galway captain Gary Fahy - "with fire in their bellies and ice in their heads" - they have a chance of upsetting the odds. To do so they will need to quell the influence of Michael Murphy and the rampaging Ryan McHugh.

Galway supporters are rightly expecting a big backlash from their team after the way below par performance of the Connacht final.

The Galway football fans who will be at this match, listening on the wireless, or watching the game on Sky will at the very minimum want their team to play with abandon.

Have a cut off Donegal and leave everything they have to give on the field. If they do that, and focus on the quality of the performance only, - with huge work-rate and intensity for the full 70 minutes - who knows what result that will bring.


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