Galway advance to Connacht decider

Photo: RTÉ (Sam Barnes/Sportsfile)

Galway will be one of the team contesting this year’s Connacht SFC final in three weeks time. We’re hot favourites to join them in the decider but that’s only if we first get past Leitrim in next weekend’s semi-final.

The Tribesmen were full value for their five-point win over Roscommon at a sodden Hyde Park today. Monsoon-like conditions in advance of throw-in meant there was a fair bit of surface water on the pitch, making what in fairness is normally a cracking playing surface treacherous underfoot.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that the standard of football – especially in an extremely cagey first half – was fairly dire. Both teams had understandable handling difficulties, with the ball like a proverbial bar of soap, but they both also had more than their fair share of misplaced passes and unforced errors. It definitely wasn’t the day for flowing football.

Because it was knockout football, neither side was in any mood to throw caution to the wind, with both of them – though especially the home team – defending in numbers. This led to plenty of slow, laboured build-up play and a dearth of scores: by the first water break it was just two points apiece.

Ultimately, it was Galway’s greater penetration, combined with Roscommon’s lack of urgency in attack, that decided the contest. A well-worked opening goal, which followed a long period of possession when the excellent Seán Kelly prised open the home rearguard with a neat handpass to Peter Cooke. He offloaded to the other Kelly brother, corner-forward Paul, who booted it to the net.

Although Roscommon responded to that reversal with their best period in the game, bagging four of the next five points to square the tie, Galway took a one-point lead into the break and they then extended this advantage after the break.

Key to this was giving young Matthew Tierney the freetaking duties – Shane Walsh had missed a few in the first half – and when the Oughterard player banged a placed ball over off the ground it was his third point of the day.

Tierney went on to score Galway’s second goal, which he converted soccer-style into the corner off the butt of the upright, and it was this goal that sealed the win. It capped a seriously impressive Championship debut for him as well.

So if we make it past Leitrim the next day, it’s our traditional Connacht rivals we’ll meet in the final three weeks from now. While it’s easy to be critical of today’s performance, the desperately poor playing conditions had much to do with this and there’s every reason to expect that Galway will be a tough proposition in the decider.

Padraig Joyce has injected plenty of youth into his team and how they blend with the older contingent will be key to Galway’s chances. Tierney’s performance today was outstanding, with the two Kellys going well too, while the likes of Conroy and Comer will never have to be asked twice to bring the fight to us, if it’s us they’ll be meeting at the end of the month.

Shane Walsh’s fitness will be a major concern to them, of course, but they won today despite the Kelkerrin-Clonberne player being out of sorts for most of the game. It was like he’d got the hump after being relieved of the freetaking duties and only came back into the game in the final quarter. All the same, Galway fans will, of course, be hoping he’s back to full fitness for the final.

So Galway’s long unbeaten run in the Connacht Championship over Roscommon at Hyde Park goes on – they last lost a provincial SFC tie to the Rossies there back in 1990 and, in truth, they never really looked in danger of that record being ended today.

If it’s us they meet in the final, though, they’ll no doubt be thinking instead that it’s too long since they beat us in a Nestor Cup decider. It’s been a while alright – the last Connacht final we lost to anyone was the 2008 decider to Galway at MacHale Park.

While we’ve no right just yet to be thinking about the provincial final, Galway earned that right in the rain at Hyde Park today. It’s on that upcoming test that they’ll now be focused, as they await the winners of next weekend’s semi-final between ourselves and Leitrim.

38 thoughts on “Galway advance to Connacht decider

  1. Expected Galway to win by 4 to 6 points and that’s how it turned and won with Comer and Walsh not having much of a influence.

    In a match where the point scoring was as low as 12 and 11 it was the two goals that decided the contest and Galway didn’t have to work that hard either with the 2nd goal was basically gifted to them.

  2. Despite the horrendous weather conditions I thought Galway looked impressive at times today especially in the second half.Some of their younger players have great pace and combine nicely with the older guys. Assuming we get over Leitrim I think we are in for a cracker of a high scoring game with them which we will win easily enough.

  3. Conditions were bad, very bad, alright but anybody referring to today’s ball as being “like a bar of soap” never played in the sixties or earlier when the surface of the old leather ball got worn and the only gloves available were the woollen ones your mother might have knitted. Granted for senior county championship games one would have the privilege of a new ball but most games were played, wet or dry, with a well worn one and that ball when wet made a bar of soap seem easily handled.
    But aside from that the first half was dire. My impression was that they had all spent far too much time watching soccer. When I saw that the Rossies had chosen Enda Smith at midfield I felt that they had decided to try to avoid a heavy defeat rather than try to win the game. Why play your best forward at midfield otherwise?

  4. I dunno, maybe I’m out of sync here (and hopefully I am !) but I have Galway as favourites for Connacht and had so before yesterday’s game. Most Mayo supporters I am speaking with fancy us to win Connacht, but I’m not sharing that same belief. This opinion is based on the following:-

    1. Cillian Out – his coring threat and onfield leadership will be sorely missed.
    2. Diarmuid a doubt and can’t be fully fit even if he does return.
    3. Extremely light in midfield – what happens if Mattie picks up a knock?!!! Conroy and Cooke have an edge here; have a solid run of Division 1 level matches under their belt (as does the entire Galway team versus us playing very average teams in Div 2 and Sligo and Leitrim in Connacht). Flynn hasn’t shown too much yet and it’s not his debut season either. Conor Loftus may be in there but despite improvement and a superb ability to pick off long range scores, I’m not sure his talent stretches to being a domineering midfielder who can win dirty possession. Maybe he can. I’d love to see it. Aido may be required for the Galway game around midfield but then we miss out on his ability at 14. If Horan sticks with Aido at 14 then the tactic will be to crowd the centre section and hope we can come out top on breaking ball.
    4. Our defence; which was really porous during the league against mediocre opposition. We look a bit unsettled still too in terms of who plays where. Harry remains out and he is a huge loss. Hession is new and has not played against a top team yet. Will Plunkett play at 6 or Durcan? Briko is still very new too. Do you play Coen? McLaughlin was back and buzzing against Sligo but it was the first time this year that he impressed. For me, there remain plenty of questions. A solid defence generally needs a run of games against high level opposition in order to gel. I think we have good talent back there but with retirements, injuries and Horan trying to blend new players and see who fits best and where, I just think we aren’t as strong yet as we need to be.
    5. Galway look better placed right now up front too. They have Matt Tierney to add to Walsh and Comer. He is a very strong player and Horan needs to get his matchup’s right. Finnerty and Kelly are also better this year than last. I would hope Towey is looking at how well Tierney has done and saying to himself he needs to get up to speed asap. He doesn’t have the physique of Tierney but he can work on his speed, strength and free taking; preferably off the ground. Towey has the talent to do it. Bryan Walsh has done himself no harm but is he a prolific scorer?? Darren McHale was great… against Sligo. So, lots of questions unanswered and I guess that is the problem with being relegated. Thankfully we are back up and our team will benefit from Div 1 prep next season.

    Overall, Galway look a bit more settled and have a cleaner bill of health. Their form since Kerry has been decent. Easily beat ros then a good showing against the dubs and were very unlucky really in Clones. Take the last 5 mins of the game away and they actually played very well. It’ll go down as a prime example of ‘learning more from a defeat’.

    Ps: Walsh tweaked his hammy yesterday. He was walking fine on it immediately after. I would be very surprised if he doesn’t feature in 3 weeks time.

  5. Im with ya Mayonaze, couldn’t agree more. Galway hold the upper hand in this one. Their supporters will say different of course, but they will be sick if they lose this one, having operated out of D1. No Cillian really does swing it in their favour, its completely set up for them.

    Someone once said the biggest difference between D1 and D2 is the speed of thought required. In D2 you have that extra second to make a decision, as the intensity and pace is just not the same. We’ve now lost that element of fitness if you know what i mean. Its only got worse since we finished the league as Sligo and Leitrim are poor D4 sides at present. Thats why im worried, an AI final 7 months ago is of no benefit now. Galway will be the first proper test we’ve faced all year, and the prep games just aren’t good enough. Its Galways to lose in all honesty.

  6. I feel sorry for the Roscommon players as they were drilled into a silly defensive strategy, a change of management is the best hope for them now. Any team that goes out yo play a game in their own half have given up any hope of winning.

  7. I’d agree with mayonaze, I’d have Galway as favourites. Cillian being out alone is enough. We don’t tend to win tight games without and Mayo Galway is usually tight. I’d also be a bit unsure about our new lads yet based on lack of experience. Diarmuid may be back but he usually needs a run of games after injury to play himself back into form.

    On the plus side, I don’t think Walshe or comer are fully fit. Comer is not as dominant as he has been in the past and you can see Walshe is hesitant to really put the foot down when hes running. I don’t think a fully fit Shane Walshe would have been taken off the frees. As for Roscommon a combination of Cunningham and poacher is a death sentence for any kind of decent attacking football.

  8. Have to agree with the posters who have Galway as favorites Very valid points made by Mayonaze none of which I could disagree with. The absence of Cillian is just terrible for us With him at full tilt I would have it a 50/50 game JH has a good record v Galway Like ourselves they have introduced some good young talent but they also have some tough cookies who desperately love taking on Mayo. I feel yesterday will give them great belief It reminded me of our win over them in 2011 on a rotten day in Castlebar which set us off on our decade of being consistently competitive I seriously hope I am wrong because nothing is more enjoyable than beating our rivals. Anyway it’s a match to look forward to

  9. I didnt see anything yesterday to suggest Galway are favourites for Connacht. All I saw was a decent side beating an average side in a very average game. Mayo would have beaten both them teams yesterday by a good margin with or without Cillian. I dont know what some people see in this Galway team to suggest they are the team to beat, or is it just the usual hyping up the opposition that usually happens for big games. Galway will be a step up in opposition from what we have been playing this year but i fully expect Mayo to come out on top in the Final

  10. I’m unusually optimistic, dont think Galway will cope with our pace from the likes of eoghan mcloughlin and we could open them up . When ros scored yesterday albeit not often enough obviously Galway stood off , there was one example of Enda smith and he couldnt believe he was just let shoot from about 30m out.

    Dublin in their present form are on the ropes , all is not well there , I expect meath to get closer than they ever have in recent times .

    I honestly think kerry will be too good for anyone though , just wish we had our talisman and I’d put us in with a right shout . Anything can happen though but our bucks are not as average as some think imo . We are still in the championship and wont be shy in a connacht final that’s for sure .

  11. Why is it is Mayo fans are always ridiculously pessimistic about teams we should beat and ridiculously optimistic talking about teams we shouldn’t.

  12. Bookies have Mayo as odds on favourites to win connacht right now. That’s before we even make the final. It’s bonkers. I fully expect us to beat Leitrim with ease but we’re already missing our star player for the final. What if we lose another next week? Galway didn’t look brilliant yesterday but the games they’ve had are going to stand to them so much better than the ones we’ve had.
    I’d have Galway down to beat us in final if I was a betting man.

  13. There’s no guarantee of course, but I’d be confident of beating Galway. Roscommon were so poor yesterday, they hardly threw a punch. We’ve seen a number of those Galway backs get proper roastings in the last couple of years.

    One thing we should consider is cutting the grass in MacHale park as short as possible. Make it really difficult for Tierney and Walsh to hit frees off the ground. Make home advantage count for something!

  14. I wish they’d use their initiative and hold the connacht final in croke park with 30k allowed in . That’s 7500 in the four sections , hardly hard to organise that by 25th July, make it double dose vaccine pass if needs be .

  15. @AndyD firstly they are light on midfield options and Enda Smith has played loads in midfield he produced a MOTM performance from that position in the Connacht final 2017 under Kevin McStay.

    The Murtaghs are their best forwards and both was totally nullified as was man marked by Molloy and Sean Kelly. Joyce will have a simliar game plan in place for Mayos best forwards.

  16. the momentum might be with Galway at the moment but having watched Galway yesterday im fully convinced Mayo will win the Connacht final if we smarten up a bit at the back. Im basing my belief on the fact that Shane Walsh and Comer arent motoring that well and although Mayo havent been tested I fully expect us to be at the pace of the game from the start. hopefully Darren Mc Hale will have another good game.

  17. Bookies’ favourites. Very reassuring that. Why are bookies’ odds taken so seriously?

  18. Bookies odds are taken so seriously because the people compiling them are paid huge money to do so. They do extensive research to come up with those odds and change them the more they the find out about players injuries, etc.
    They dont get it right 100 % of the time, but they’re seldom wrong.

  19. Agree that Galway will have learned a lot from this game but the Rossies with a lack of real attacking flair got through for 11 scores in play, which is not great but that is out of 12 on the day and weather conditions which suited the backs. There was a few times when the Galway backs were easily caught out of position, Mayo will play at more pace which will expose these gaps more easily.
    Galway have good players but I believe that we know the intensity required for a connacht final, you do not lose that in the short period we were in div 2. There is enough experience to be setting the standards in training. Will be tight but I would have us as favourites at this stage.

  20. I agree Sean, Dublin look their most vulnerable in 10 years. It’s just an awful shame Cillian is missing. If we had a full fit panel, or at least our key players motoring then I’d have us as real contenders for Sam. We are missing Harry. We are missing Diarmuid. We are missing Cillian. We are missing Doherty (who was in the form of his life). We havnt replaced them. If all were fit, all start.

    That’s not pessimistic. It’s realistic. Winning an All Ireland without these lads would be a miracle. Only hope is miracles do happen on occasion…

  21. Some optimism….

    If we have a clean bill of health next season. Have harry, doc back. Unearth another top forward/someone who is a guaranteed starter (in fact it could be someone in the panel already, Towey, McHale, Carr, Walsh) as well as one of Hession or Briko quickly developing into a top level player AND keep Mullin in Mayo then we have a really decent chance.

  22. Connacht final in Croke Park should be workable.
    3 weeks from now there will be an additional 1 million vaccines done likely 65% of population fully vaccinated surely we could make it work.

  23. In terms of Covid, I’d say MacHale park would be a safer location than croke park. If the game was on in Dublin you would have most supporters pile into public transport, but almost everyone travels to castlebar by car.

    50% capacity in MacHale park would surely be reasonable considering the vaccination progress. Probably a pipe dream unfortunately.

  24. Paddy joe, in 2016, I remember being similarly reassured, when the money was piling in on Britain to stay in the EU. Same with Trump later that year.

  25. It was a good sign for Galway that they managed to beat the Rossies with a half fit Shane Walsh, a not fully match sharp Damien Comer and Paul Conroy didn’t have a big influence on the game either. Really it was all their younger players that won the game for them. Tierney, Cooke and the Kelly brothers. Tierney and Paul Kelly hit 2-5 between them. And one player Mayo will have to keep a serious eye on is Sean Kelly who is a super young player I think with his driving runs out of defence. He had 2 assists for both goals against the Rossies and hit 0-1 himself. And that’s from corner back. Every game I see him he’s up either creating goal chances for Galway or having shots on goal himself. He had one cleared off the line against Monaghan.

  26. If there is a good crowd allowed for the Connacht Final, and it could be even Leitrim V Galway.. For heaven sake, keep the game in Connacht and whatever money spent, spend it in Connacht as well, We have been subsidising, Croke Park, and Limrick, for backdoor match’s,… that should have been played in Connacht… I don’t know how well the tiles are going, but Mchale Park needs money spent on its new pitch..That’s how grounds get money for the upkeep of facilities, by people coming to matchs there and spending money there. Allot of adults not as yet fully Vacinated 50% and it takes two weeks after that for your body to produce the nessary antibodies.. Very few under the age of 40 Vacinated, and nobody under the age of 18.. So we don’t have a Covid passport in place.. Who’s going to Police who gets in, and is it even legal to stop someone without a Vacination.. Probably less than 50% capisity in Mchale Park. And I know the UK will be allowing full capisity at Stadia in 2 weeks time, but they are over 2 months ahead of us with their Vacination program.

  27. Yeah keep it in Connacht imo . Would be silly sending two sets of Connacht supporters across the country in current circumstances . Hopefully it can be used as another “pilot” event with a larger crowd

  28. The Mayo News is reporting this morning that a crowd of 3,500 will be allowed in to Sunday’s game. Tickets available online for it on Thursday.

  29. We are well behind where we were in October. Gone are Clarke, Barrett, Cillian and most probably Diarmaid. For Connacht final we had 4 experienced forwards, Diarmaid was in the half forward line and 2 rookies. This year, at best, we will have 2 experienced forwards , the 2 rookies from last year and we don’t know who the other 2 will be. That’s if there are no more injuries.
    Our defense is probably weaker than last year as well.

  30. Sure there will only be a point or two in it at the end.I think if it clicked Galway will open up the Mayo defence for goals but wont hold my breath. COC absence is bigger than ye are letting on and even if Galway are beaten there is no All Ireland without him. A sickener for Mayo as Dublin are out of form and the semi is now closer than I wouldhave thought. Im disappointed in our midfield again the Rossies and expect them to really put in a bigger effort in final. I would if from Mayo be concerned about Comer with the Rossies game under his belt. Shane will line out and Cooke is improving all the time with Tierney now taking centre stage.

  31. Agree on those points Chenseychet except for Dublin’s form. That result against Wexford was their lowest margin of victory in 8 years but it needs to be borne in mind that it’s the first Leinster Championship game they’ve played at an opponents home ground since 2006.

    In the 15 years since they played Longford in 2006, they’ve only played 2 championship games outside of Croke Park, both being the so called “super 8’s” away games of 2018 and 2019. The Neutral games in the Super 8’s are played at Croke Park.

    Any other Leinster Championship “away” games have been played at neutral venues.

    The first such game for a number of years was played against Laois, in Nowlam Kilkenny, as the grounds in Portlaoise were deemed to be too small, yet the following year the Portaoise was declared to be more than adequate for the game against Carlow, despite no changes to capacity or any of the infrastructure.

    Sure the poor craythurs wouldn’t have been used to the hard seats in the dressing room in Wexford and the more than 30 minute journey any of them would have to undertake to get to the venue.

  32. I’m not sure that’s correct dooniver , I’d fancy Diarmuid to be back for Galway game with the possibility of jason doc pushing too . Time will tell how the connacht final goes , I’d really fancy us to turn Galway over . They are not progressing like I imagined they would from 18 onwards .

  33. Sean Burke, if Diarmaid is back he will be at midfield. He was in the half forward line last year. Hope you are right about Jason as we need him badly but its a big ask to have him match fit for a Connacht final.

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