The tickets are on sale, there’s less than a week to go until throw-in. The countdown to this year’s novel Croke Park Connacht final is on in earnest so let’s take a quick look at what the neighbours have been up to of late.
The most recent time our paths crossed was when we saw them off by the minimum margin in a rather heart-stopping manner in last year’s Connacht final. We should have won that game in mid-November with a bit to spare – having whipped them soundly in the League at Tuam the previous month – but we let them back into it and very nearly paid the price at the finish.
This spring while we were slumming it in Division Two North, Galway were operating in Division One South. With Dublin and Kerry in the same group of four, it was pretty much a racing certainty that themselves and Roscommon would be heading for the relegation play-offs. Let’s face it, if we were in the same group we’d have expected the same fate ourselves.
That’s what happened so of itself it shouldn’t have been all that damaging. What would have been of concern to Galway fans, however, was the absolute shellacking they got from Kerry down in Tralee in the first round, losing by 22 points to an utterly rampant home team.
Roscommon on home turf came next, which gave Padraic Joyce a chance to steady the ship. It was an opportunity they grasped as well, winning that one by 2-16 to 1-13.
That meant that they went into their final group match – also at home, this time at Tuam – against Dublin knowing that a win would put them through to the semi-final at the All-Ireland champions’ expense. Both counties fielded fairly experimental teams that day and the match was even enough but Dublin prevailed by four points, 2-16 to 1-15, to pitch Galway into the relegation play-offs.
Monaghan provided the opposition for this play-off. Padraic Joyce had plenty of choice words to say about the decision to hand the Farneymen home advantage, which they were granted as they had only one designated home match in the group stages (but had to forfeit this due to their breaching the Covid ban on collective training).
Getting a result in Clones in a must-win game is a hard ask for any team but Galway had all but done this with two minutes of normal time to go. They led by five points at that stage, leaving them with the relatively straightforward task of seeing out the win.
But in a frantic few minutes of injury time, the home side outscored Galway by 1-3 to 0-1 to push the game to extra-time. Then, with a penalty shootout beckoning, sub Jack McCarron bagged the winner to keep Monaghan up and send Galway down to Division Two.
The Tribesmen renewed hostilities with Roscommon a bit over two weeks ago in the Connacht SFC semi-final. This time the venue was Dr Hyde Park, where Galway last lost to the Rossies in the Championship back in 1991. They never looked in danger of that run ending when, in dreadful weather, they got the better of the home team in a dour encounter by 2-11 to 0-12.
That win, combined with our victories over Sligo and Leitrim, sets us up for another Mayo/Galway Connacht final. After last year’s win we’re now one provincial title ahead of them in the roll of honour, with 47 Connacht crowns to their 46.
The head-to-head Championship record between us is also on a knife-edge. We lead that one as well, though only just about, with 43 wins, 42 losses and 6 draws. Indeed, if you strip out our sole non-Connacht Championship meeting – the qualifier clash at Limerick in 2019 – then the head-to-head record is perfectly balanced, with 42 Connacht SFC wins apiece.
We’re well ahead on aggregate scoring, however, as we’ve posted a total of 108-726 to their 88-694 over the 91 Championship matches we’ve contested since 1902.
But who’ll be ahead after Sunday’s meeting at Croke Park? We’ve heard a variety of opinions over the last while in the comments about both teams’ chances in this one so let’s be having you: how will we do in this year’s Connacht decider?
Will we beat Galway?
- Yes (72%, 662 Votes)
- No (28%, 263 Votes)
Total Voters: 925