With matches coming one after the other so rapidly in the National League, there’s little time to reflect on the one just gone, seeing as the next one is already just up ahead. That’s no bad thing for us after Saturday night, with all the bad memories from that one needing to be boxed away without further ado as the focus shifts to this coming weekend and our meeting with Galway.
Our Round 5 clash with the neighbours throws in at MacHale Park on Saturday evening at 7.15pm – note the slightly later start time. Maurice Deegan (I know, I know – don’t start me) has the whistle for this one. As was the case at Croke Park the last evening, the lads’ match will be preceded by the LGFA League Division One clash between the same two counties. That game throws in at 5.15pm.
I think we can all admit that Kevin Walsh’s Galway are a team that have very successfully got under our skin in recent years. Our dominance over them was ended abruptly in 2016 when they pulled off a shock win over us in that year’s Connacht Championship semi-final.
Since then they’ve beaten us three further times, twice in Connacht as well as in last year’s League meeting. They even got the better of us this January in an FBD League penalty shootout.
Because we’d gone on to do markedly better than them in the Championship in both 2016 and 2017, those provincial reverses didn’t sting all that badly. Last year, though, when they beat us decisively at Pearse Stadium in the League and then got the better of us again the Championship, as we once more hit the self-destruct button but also lost Tom Parsons to his horror knee injury, the losses cut fairly deep from our perspective.
With our Championship over before the end of June, all we could do was look on as both Galway – and the Rossies – went on to take part in the novel All-Ireland quarter-final group stage. Galway’s success in making it through the Super Eights – with their win over Kerry in Phase 1 proving instrumental to the Kingdom’s demise – only served to underscore further the rapidly changing fortunes between us. They even managed to beat Kildare at Newbridge, a feat we were unable to accomplish in the qualifiers but which they did in Phase 2 of the Super Eights.
But last summer didn’t ultimately prove to be some kind of fairytale trek through the sunny uplands of the Championship for the Tribesmen either. Already guaranteed an All-Ireland semi-final place, they slipped up badly against Monaghan in Phase 3 of the group stage, plunging to an eight-point loss at Pearse Stadium.
That defeat, in effect, torpedoed their hopes of making it to the All-Ireland final. This was because, instead of topping their group and going on to face Tyrone in the penultimate round, they now had to play the other group winners, Dublin. Unable to beat them in last year’s League final with a man extra for the last twenty minutes, it was no surprise that Galway were no match for the Jacks in an all-or-nothing All-Ireland semi-final showdown. Dublin won that one with embarrassing ease, on a scoreline of 1-24 to 2-12.
Fast forward to the start of this year where we didn’t have long to wait for the first locking of horns between James Horan and Kevin Walsh. That meeting took place in mid-January in an FBD semi-final fixture at Tuam, where both counties fielded reasonably strong sides, Galway’s pick bulked up by some of the Corofin contingent.
It looked for much of that day that James had got his tactics right. We came out of the blocks quickly at them and established a six-point lead early in the second half, which rendered their troglodytic shawl stratagem redundant as they now had to come out of their shell (or, to extend the analogy, their cave) and take the game to us. Which, in fairness, they did, drawing level at 1-9 apiece with an injury time goal before then winning the shootout 4-2.
The Tribesmen then, however, went on to lose the FBD final to Roscommon by five points but they bounced back the following week by winning their Round 1 League match against Cavan by 0-13 to 0-11 at Salthill. The Breffni lads were a touch on the indisciplined side that day, at one point having three players in the sin bin at the same time for a while in the second half.
Next up for Galway was a trip to Croke Park and another flailing by Dublin, much similar, in fact, to the one we suffered at their hands last weekend. In fact, Galway managed the same miserly seven-point total as we did but Dublin hit them for a few more, running up 1-15 on the way to an eleven-point win.
The following weekend, though, Kevin Walsh’s charges rebounded from that depressing result and they did so in impressive fashion too. Iniskeen, up in Monaghan, can often be a hard place for visiting teams to get a result – that’s the venue with those nice green and red seats – but Galway chiselled out a win there by the narrowest of margins, 1-9 to 0-11, two weekends ago.
Back on home turf – Tuam on this occasion, where the new dressing rooms were officially unveiled – last Sunday, the Tribesmen went toe-to-toe with Peter Keane’s up-and-coming young Kerry side, a team emboldened by their win over Dublin the previous weekend.
Kerry led by five at the break in that one but Galway battled back in the second half and a goal by Danny Cummins five minutes from time put them briefly ahead. The Kerry youngsters held their nerve impressively, though, to close out a one-point win, on a scoreline of 0-14 to 1-10, and so maintain their 100% record in this League campaign.
Which means that Galway, like us, go into Saturday night’s meeting on the back of a loss, though they’ll undoubtedly feel less glum about their narrow reversal against Kerry than we will following that thumping the Dubs gave us. Those two negative results for Saturday night’s opponents means, however, that both will be wanting to steady the ship once more with a win.
It’s a win the bookies fancy us to achieve – Paddy Power have priced us at 8/13 to prevail – but you don’t need reminding from me that the money men have been wrong about contests between us more than once in recent years.
So, let’s turn it over to the people – how do you think Saturday night’s meeting with the Tribesmen will go for us?
How will we get on against Galway?
- Win (63%, 422 Votes)
- Lose (25%, 166 Votes)
- Draw (12%, 78 Votes)
Total Voters: 666