Three questions facing the Tribesmen ahead of Kerry showdown
Published 01/08/2014 | 12:28
Few give Galway any chance of defeating the Kingdom this weekend to reach an All-Ireland semi-final, but they have proven tricky customers in the past for the men in green in gold.
Can history repeat itself?
In 2008 the two sides met at the same stage in one of the games of the season, probably the decade given the excitement and quality.
Kerry came out on top eventually, but few expected Galway to run a star-studded Kerry side so close. The main men that day, Michael Meehan and Colm Cooper will unfortunately be watching on through injury, but if Galway can take some of the self-belief they showed six years ago, then they might just give a more inexperienced Kingdom a good run for their money.
Will their forwards see enough ball?
Alan Mulholland has overseen a transitional period in Galway football and serious questions remain in their defence, an on-going issue for a number of years.
However from midfield up, they are on their day quite a handful. Shane Walsh on the 40 would make most inter-county teams, with one particular score against Tipperary where he controlled a long free with his foot before nonchalantly firing over the bar an indication of his repertoire of skills.
Paul Conroy is the key attacker, with most attacks either going through his hands if not finished off by the ace forward, while Michael Lundy has shown glimpses of real potential.
With Brian Kelly in goals, Shane Enright, Paul Murphy and Fionn Fitzgerald in defence, it is one of the most inexperienced Kerry rear-guard to take to Croke Park in a number of years. If the Tribesmen get enough quality ball into the final third of the pitch, it could make a close encounter.
Can they buck the recent trend of beaten provincial finalists?
It is well documented that beaten provincial finalists struggle to recover from defeat, with Cork the last team to claim Sam Maguire through the back-door in 2010.
Victories for the provincial champions stand at 11-1 over three seasons at this stage of the championship, with Tyrone the only qualifier to buck the trend when they beat Ulster winners, Monaghan last season. Tyrone were well beaten by Mayo in the semi-final.
Galway were beaten more convincingly than perhaps the scoreline suggested against mayo, but did get their shooting boots back against Tipp in their kamikaze qualifier. A tightening of the defence, at least parity at midfield and a forward line with no passengers is required for the Tribesmen to buck the recent trend.