Sometimes there can be no hiding from hard facts. And here are two: Firstly, the Galway senior football team have not won an All-Ireland quarter final since 2001. Secondly, they have not won a single game in Croke Park in the past eight years and on the clear evidence provided last Sunday against Sligo, even if they did beat Mayo in two weeks time, which is a big if, that statistic is unlikely to change.
I was in McHale Park to see Mayo disembowel Roscommon at their ease and I was in Markievicz Park to see Galway stumble luckily to a narrow victory over Sligo. And based on the respective performances from both panels and managements, there will only be one result in Pearse Stadium on July 19. And that is a Mayo victory.
Galway management must improve
It is not only some of the players, but Liam Sammon and his management team need to pick up their performance a great deal if Galway are going to win anything of substance this year. Tactically Galway were at sea on many occasions last Sunday and it could easily have cost them the game.
Firstly, Seán Armstrong was destroying Sligo’s Neil Ewing at left corner forward. Nevertheless in a bizarre move, after he had shot three points from top of the left he was switched with Joe Bergin who was grafting well out the field. So out goes Armstrong, and Bergin goes into the corner. Explain that one to me?
If you have a forward who is making hay, leave him there and feed him lots of ball. Don’t take him out of the position. It made no sense whatsoever. Likewise Galway did not utilise Michael Meehan effectively last Sunday and he only kicked two points from play and seemed subdued for long periods of the contest.
Meehan needs to be on the edge of the square or roving around in the scoring zone. He proved last year against Kerry what he can do if close to goal and getting a good supply. Instead in the first half against Sligo he was wandering out to wing-forward, in the corner, centre-forward, and drifting from pillar to post. He is a proven score getter, Galway’s best. And he must be kept near to goals. The further he drifts or is told to drift out, the less effective he is.
Galway seem to have adopted a kind of “rotation” policy like the one Dublin engaged in over the past few seasons. It was rubbish then and it is rubbish now. Play your forwards in their best positions. The decision to bring on Oughterard’s Joe Joe Greaney for the injured Matthew Clancy also raised a lot of eyebrows and to take him off again just 20 minutes later will have been a blow to his confidence. The management team had used two substitute slips at that juncture for the benefit of one.
Finally on the negative list is the continuing ineptitude of Galway’s midfield partnerships. Garry O’Donnell from Tuam Stars was having a poor game there, and that was copperfastened by his silly reaction to being held down by Johnny Davey. With Ewing having just been red-carded for Sligo it was brainless to have got involved in any way at that stage. Referees always like to balance the books in that department. The midfield combo selected by management will be vital against Mayo as Ronan McGarrity and either David Heaney or Tom Parsons are a solid combination.
There will have to be some hard questions and some correct answers provided at county training in the next fortnight if the JJ Nestor Cup is to stay in Galway for the next 12 months.