Testing trip to Derry

Liam Sammon and his team will know that they face a big step up in class and intensity this Sunday when they face Derry in Maghera. Donegal were like sheep in an abattoir in the first half last Sunday, however Derry are a completely different proposition.

They are an extremely difficult team to beat, especially when they are at home and they have been playing very well, as evidenced by their easy victory over Dublin.

They were inspired in that success by Eoin Bradley who shot six points, including two side-lines and whom their manager Damien Cassidy described as “the complete package and a class act” after his display.

The jury is still out on that subjective judgment in my view, however given space, he will punish you.

Bradley has been lining out at full-forward and his clash with Galway’s Finian Hanley has the makings of a key duel in deciding which team will emerge with the points. Hanley is coming back to his best again and his form has been improving with every outing, and if Bradley is not being fed beautiful ball in by the likes of Enda Muldoon and Fergal Doherty at midfield, the Salthill man seems well equipped to deal with the threat of Eoin Bradley.

Milltown’s Diarmuid Blake, too, needs to have a good solid energy-providing breakfast on Sunday morning as he will be tracking down Paul Murphy who had an excellent game against Dublin, hitting three points from play and winning an awful lot of ball from centre-forward.

Murphy is a big strong mobile player, however Blake relishes the physical challenges and will look forward to tangling with Murphy. If both Hanley and Blake can hold the centre of the defence solid, then Galway have a good chance of scoring enough up the other end to win.

Galway are top of the table with four wins out of four, however over the next few weeks they will face Derry on Sunday, followed by Mayo at a Galway venue and Kerry away on Easter Sunday.

All those three fixtures are really tough games, but if we are to fancy ourselves as a top-four team then they are the kind of outings that we should be able to compete in and get something out of.

A key negative which was again very evident last Sunday, and must be cut out immediately if the likes of Derry are to be beaten next weekend, is the midfield fade-out in the second half.

Joe Bergin and Barry Cullinane need to pace themselves and keep some juice in the tank for the full 70 minutes. For 20 minutes against Donegal in the second half they disappeared and that is fatal against top opposition.

If Barry can just stay around the middle, win primary possession and lay it off, especially off our own kick-outs, he will be doing a superb and vital job of work.

With the forwards of the calibre of Padraic Joyce, Meehan, Dunleavy and Armstrong - all we need is possession and we are a real threat to any side.

It is up to Bergin, Cullinane and Mark Lydon, if he is out there, to win or at least break every kick-out.

Assuming they win their fair share of the leather, there is no reason why Galway cannot collect two points or at least one this Sunday.


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