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By Ray Silke
Galway are hot favourites next Saturday to beat Sligo in Markievicz Park (7pm) in the Connacht semi-final, but why are so many people speaking so confidently about Galway's chances this weekend?
The distraction of Wednesday’s news that Conor Mortimer has decided to leave the Mayo senior panel is the last thing that Mayo manager James Horan will have wanted ahead of Sunday’s Connacht final showdown with Sligo in Hyde Park. Horan’s side had only just been announced by the county board online and through traditional methods a matter of hours when news broke of Mortimer’s decision to leave the panel, bringing the eye of the national and local media on Mayo ahead of Sunday for reasons other than what happens on the field. Mortimer being the second member of the panel to make themselves unavailable for Mayo in a matter of weeks, following Robert Hennelly’s decision leave the panel due to work commitments a few weeks ago.
Whatever exuberance and confidence that was was starting to bubble within Galway football supporters’ hearts after the facile win over a poor Roscommon team, was mercilessly wiped out last Saturday evening. Sligo won a senior championship tie for the first time at a Galway venue, comprehensively outscoring Galway by 2-14 to 0-15.
The Galway football management team of Alan Mulholland, Donal O’Flatharta and Alan Flynn have made no changes to the starting 15 that faced Roscommon in the first round of the Connacht championship.
Galway football supporters will have their last opportunity to see Alan Mulholland’s new-look side in competitive action on home soil for a few weeks when they take on Sligo this Sunday at Tuam Stadium (2pm) in the final round of the FBD league.
To win a provincial final is always sweet. To do so against all odds is all the sweeter. Fergal O’Donnell’s men tore up the script in Castlebar last Sunday to record a famous victory that will live long in the memory of all primrose and blue supporters.
I spent some time with a number of my former Mayo playing colleagues from 1985 last weekend. The Connacht winning side were guests of the Connacht Council last Sunday at the Connacht final. There were some giants of men on that team. TJ Kilgallon, Willie Joe, Padraig Brogan, Sean Lowry, Sean Maher, Noel Durcan, and Big Tom Byrne to name but a few. Anthony ‘Fat Larry’ Finnerty and Frank Noone were both around so laughter was guaranteed. The reunion afforded us an opportunity to reminisce and it got me thinking about the seriousness of modern football and in particular the kind of a lifestyle required from a current inter-county footballer. Thankfully we played in a different era when football was taken seriously but it did not completely dominate your life.
Galway are fancied by most of the national media and pundits to defeat Sligo this Sunday in Pearse Stadium (2pm) and go on and win the Connacht title. However, it is not a sure bet, as Sligo will be coming to Galway full of confidence and belief, expecting victory.