Opinion ahead of tomorrow’s match with Galway in Tuam (well, what opinion I can find – the nationals haven’t put their preview pieces online yet; they never seem to do so these days) is fairly clear-cut: everyone says we’re going to lose. Here’s RTE’s assessment (which doesn’t mention in ‘M’ word) and here’s Hogan Stand’s (who, bless ’em, think that we’ll find it difficult to secure a result in Salthill). The Herrin Chokers’ odds with Paddy Power have tightened a bit since earlier in the week – they’re now on offer at 4/7 – and the poll on here echoes this, with 58% thinking we’ll lose as well.
I fear we’re almost certain to lose, with the only hope I’m clinging to the fact that it is Galway and so that the sight of those maroon jerseys might provoke our lads to put in a performance far superior to anything we’ve seen so far this year. That’s the heart bit. The head bit says that once again we’ll see another slow start, with Bergin and Cullinane winning everything at midfield, with the result that no matter how much tighter we are at the back and regardless of how many forwards we use as sweepers, Meehan and his pals will inflict sufficient damage on us to have us bailing water in short order. At the other end, it’s difficult to envisage swift, purposeful attacks and with Austie no doubt wandering well out, I can’t see how two tyros like Mikey Sweeney and Aidan O’Shea can be expected to provide enough menace in attack to keep us in the hunt with the home team.
We’ve had some great performances with Galway in the recent past – There is a light that never goes out provides an excellent shortlist of the best of these over at his gaff – and while a league meeting in March pales into insignificance compared with that lot, tomorrow is still a big game for Johnno. If we can somehow rescue something, anything, from tomorrow’s game, then the doubters – myself included, I’ll readily admit – will have got our answer. I sincerely and truly hopes that this happens. Another defeat, however, following another performance where we start to play far too late in the afternoon and then only in an incoherent and disorganised fashion, and the drumbeats will have grown that bit louder. In terms of the league, there will, of course, be one final chance to retain our Division 1 status when we play Tyrone but a heavy defeat tomorrow could, I fear, set the tone for the rest of the year, in particular for our likely Connacht final rematch with tomorrow’s opponents.