I have to admit that I raised my eyebrows yesterday when I read that the Sheepstealers were on offer at 7/1 to beat Galway at Pearse Stadium today but, thankfully, that’s all I did. With the Herrin Chokers romping home by a 16-point winning margin, it was the 1/10 odds on Galway that after the event looked a bit generous but, of course, there was more to today’s poorly attended Connacht championship clash at Salthill than the 2-16 to 0-6 final score.
Although Galway won with some ease in the end, they looked a good deal less than comfortable at half-time at which stage they only led by two points. The wet conditions made for a scrappy, error-ridden first half , with Galway easing five points ahead before the Rossies troubled the umpires for the first time with twenty minutes having been played. Once they got going, the Rossies took a hold around the middle and began to eat into that headstart they’d given the home side. They must have been reasonably happy with themselves to be so close to the Tribesmen at the break.
The second half, however, proved a total let-down as Roscommon ran out of steam and, once Gary Cox had been sent off with ten minutes of the half played, Galway pressed home the advantage decisively. The two goals – from the pudding-bowl haired Matthew Clancy and sub Niall Coleman – came in the final ten minutes, by which time the Rossies had lost all shape and purpose.
A sixteen-point trimming was a bit harsh on the Sheepstealers and they could with more than a little justification argue that Cox’s second yellow should have been preceded by two yellows for Barry Cullinane in the first half – a point just raised by the lads on The Sunday Game now, I notice – but, of course, this was the same tool of a ref that officiated our defeat to a foul-happy Galway at the same venue almost exactly twelve months ago. Sadly, however, the final score has to be viewed as a fair enough reflection on the contrasting positions within Gaelic football’s pecking order that the two counties now occupy.
It’s probably a bit early for us to be thinking about what today’s Galway performance might mean for a potential Connacht final showdown with them. Much too early, in fact, given the potential banana skins waiting for both of us in the semi-finals, though both of us will of course be warm favourites to make it through to a McHale Park final on July 13th. Today showed the perils of going against the bookies though I don’t expect to see our lads quoted at such measly odds when we face the reigning Connacht champions in five weeks time.