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After lark in the Páirc, Kerry won't have it so easy but they're too far advanced for Galway

SIX years have passed since Kerry and Galway conjured up a monsoon classic at HQ. Rarely has a game of Gaelic football played in such torrents of rain produced such sustained magnificence.

Kerry - shaken and stirred, and despite a 10-point masterclass from Michael Meehan - eventually pulled clear in the sodden home straight to win by 1-21 to 1-16.

That year was the last time Galway won Connacht. This is the first time since that they've reached a quarter-final, showing how far Galway football has tumbled since the early noughties.

Pearse Stadium in May of last year was the nadir. Since then, bit by painstaking bit, they've been rebuilding. This year, at least, they made the Mayo game something resembling a contest.

Some decorated U21 graduates are finding their feet at this level.

Yet, come season's end, we suspect the only award heading west will be Point of the Year - destined for Shane Walsh after his sublime control, swivel and strike against Tipperary last weekend.

Galway won't win the All-Ireland and it would constitute a monumental shock were they to ambush Kerry, for that matter.

Doubtless, Alan Mulholland will seek to flood his defence with nominal half-forwards - principally James Kavanagh - in a bid to block the channels so generously afforded by Cork and ruthlessly exploited by James O'Donoghue in the Munster final.

And yet, while we doubt if O'Donoghue or Paul Geaney will be given the same latitude (ever again!), this Galway full-back line looks anything but watertight either. Cillian O'Connor tormented them in the Connacht final.

They got sloppy in the last 25 minutes against Tipp - cue the jarring concession of four goals.

possess

Galway still possess forward class in the guise of Paul Conroy and the burgeoning Walsh. Danny Cummins is a bobbing-and-weaving presence whose elusive qualities aren't always matched by end product and 
Michael Martin caught the eye against Tipp - this Galway side have the weaponry to hurt.

But while they have height around the middle, they struggled here against Mayo. Will they have the physicality to deny Anthony Maher, Brian Sheehan and Johnny Buckley the type of possession feasted upon in Páirc Uí Chaoimh?

Any repeat here could prove disastrous, given how the deep-lying and seemingly reborn Declan O'Sullivan dictated against Cork. This will be a tougher test for Kerry, but probably not tough enough.

BOYLESPORTS ODDS: Kerry 1/4, Draw 10/1, Galway 4/1

VERDICT: Kerry

KERRY: B Kelly; M Ó Sé, A O'Mahony, S Enright; 
P Murphy, K Young, F Fitzgerald; A Maher, J Buckley; 
M Geaney, B Sheehan, D Walsh; P Geaney, 
D O'Sullivan, J O'Donoghue.

GALWAY: T Healy; D O'Neill, F Hanley, J Moore; 
G Bradshaw, G O'Donnell, P Varley; F Ó Curraoin, 
T Flynn; M Lundy, S Walsh, J Kavanagh; M Martin, 
P Conroy, D Cummins.


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