There was much to admire about Galway’s impressive win last Saturday night over Tyrone in Healy Park Omagh. Any time you beat the current All-Ireland champions is a good evening’s work and some of the Galway players enhanced their reputations with some sterling performances.
Of the younger brigade it was great to see Paul Conroy having such a hugely influential game with his work-rate, skill and composure on the ball. Operating as a third midfielder, the 2007 All-Ireland winning minor captain had a fine game.
Wing-back Gareth Bradshaw added to his burgeoning reputation with a lung-bursting display from wing-back. One of the highlights of the game from a subjective viewpoint was when he swept out past a static Sean Cavanagh to win a vital ball out by the side-line in the second half. Away victories are scraped out by an accumulation of such incidents and Bradshaw is developing into one of Liam Sammon’s most important players.
Another who must have a big season this summer if Galway are to join the big boys is Joe Bergin. The Mountbellew man showed some great leadership and guts by firing over two terrific and inspirational points in the second half. Both came at crucial stages and his second put Galway in front coming into the last furlong.
The insurance score was a tremendous effort by Padraic Joyce. He showed his experience and brilliance by cutting inside Peter Donnelly at such an angle that the Tyrone man could not lay a hand on him or it would have been a definite free. You can’t teach or buy what Joyce
has, and it is a great credit to him, his professionalism and his desire to play top level football that he is still the leader of the pack 11 years after he made his senior debut.
There was a lot of boisterous talk and predictions being made in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh after the win, however only an amadán would not acknowledge that it was a hugely understrength Tyrone team and, after Conor Gormley was correctly yellow carded, they were down four of the defenders that played in Croke Park last September. A fit Brian Dooher and Stephen O’ Neill would be a significant boost for any team come championship too.
That said, it is three wins out of three now for the team and they are playing a really attractive and exciting brand of attacking football. More of the same will be required this Sunday in Pearse Stadium at 2.30pm to see off a Donegal side which will be smarting from their narrow defeat to Dublin last weekend.
John Joe Doherty’s men have only one point from their three games and a defeat to Galway on Sunday would leave them in pretty dire straits and candidates to join Westmeath in the fall to Division 2.
That fact will make them dangerous opponents this Sunday, although the fact that the game is in Pearse Stadium is a big plus for Galway. The key Donegal men that Liam Sammon and his management team will have zoned in on this week at training are the prodigious Michael Murphy in the full-forward line, Kevin Cassidy at wing-back and Conal Dunne at centre-forward. Diarmuid Blake will have to keep really tight on Dunne as he is a good play-maker and scored a stunning goal against Dublin in Ballyshannon last Sunday.
If Galway play with the fight and urgency they displayed against Tyrone and Dublin in the first half, they have nothing to fear, however complacency or any over-confidence would be the first step on the road to a costly defeat.
Donegal’s backs are to the wall and they are a good side if they get motoring. Galway started well in Omagh and established a solid 0-3 to 0-1 early lead which set the tone for the game. More of the same vibrancy and zest is needed this weekend if ambitions of a potential league final are to be realised.
We are away to both Derry and Kerry later, so our two home games must be cashed in on.