Thursday 24 January 2019

Galway cut loose to annihilate Sligo by 21 points in Connacht semi-final

Galway 4-24 Sligo 1-12

Damien Comer of Galway is tackled by Eoin McHugh of Sligo during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Galway and Sligo at Pearse Stadium, Galway. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Damien Comer of Galway is tackled by Eoin McHugh of Sligo during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Galway and Sligo at Pearse Stadium, Galway. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

In a fortnight Galway and Roscommon will meet at Dr Hyde Park in the Connacht football final, the third year in a row the two counties will duel for the provincial crown, but rarely has Galway has a semi-final so much their own way.

This was as one sided a provincial game as we’re likely to see all summer, and in truth the 21-point winning margin did not flatter Kevin Walsh’s side one bit.

A couple of brilliant saves from Aidan Devaney denied Galway further goals, while a few misplaced passes also cost Galway a bulkier return in the goals column, but they went hunting for scores and took no pity on Sligo.

After their win over Mayo in the last round, Galway’s defensive tactics and set-up was lambasted widely, but Walsh said this polar opposite approach was not produced to silence their doubters.

“To be honest, number one, I don’t listen to pundits, particularly people who haven’t their homework done. So that doesn’t bother me,” said Walsh.

“We were in Division 2 last year and we had some shoot-outs. We’ve done that and we’ll do that at times against different opposition if we think there’s time to move on and we’ll take weather conditions into account.

“There’s Plan As, Plan Bs and Plan Cs out there. And sometimes you may not play the game you want to when you’re forced by the opposition to do something else. And that’s part of the trick. We’ll do what we feel is right as much as we can and hopefully it’s the right thing to be done and take our positions. And depending on how the game will pan out at different times, you give different instructions. I don’t overly listen to people who haven’t their homework done.”

Cathal Corey’s side had survived the drop from Division 3 with a last round win over Derry, but here they faced a side clearly superior to them. They had ten points to spare over London in the first round, but it seemed to have little impact on their performance here.

Adrian Marren got them up and running after three minutes, but seven unanswered points came from the Tribesmen who surged clear by the 17th minute.

Pat Hughes and Niall Murphy managed to stem the tide with a couple of points for Sligo, but again Galway responded comprehensively with an attacking blitz, while Sean Kelly’s well taken goal – which was laid on by a sweet Comer pass – put them well in control by the interval.

With Comer stationed in the full-forward line for the most part and with Ian Burke and Barry McHugh hunting around him Galway looked really dangerous.

Shane Walsh looked as comfortable as he ever has in the Galway shirt and added five points for his side from centre-forward, but it was Comer who drew the fire.

Comer contributed two points to that early flurry of scores and then added two goals in the space of a minute at the death for his side.

Galway definitely went hunting goals in the closing stages and they could have had a couple more, but with Burke already helping himself to a second-half goal, this win was a long time in the bag.

But now Galway turn their focus towards Roscommon in the final. They venue has been decided and despite suggestions that the game would be moved, home advantage falls to the champions. Walsh is happy just to see his side get there with style.

“I suppose the fact that we’ve played football in Division 1 and then against Mayo was important,” said Walsh.

“We’ve been playing at the higher level for the last couple of months. We’re heading for Roscommon now. They’ve been in Division 1 up to last season and they’re coming up again. They’re Connacht champions, they’re league champions so it’s probably going to be a tough one. We’re going to put this one behind us, learn a few things from it and get as ready as we can.

“I think the conversion rates were a lot higher than the Mayo match. We had a few wides, maybe only one or two wides before half time. It was great for ourselves having such a lead at half time.

“We knew Sligo had finished top of Division 3, beaten Derry at home. They were well seasoned and well hardened. It was important for us too to get off to a good start at home in particular. The conversion rates were a big part of that.”

Galway: D Comer 2-2; S Kelly & I Burke 1-2 each; S Walsh 0-5 (0-1f); E Brannigan & B McHugh (0-2f) 0-3 each; J Heaney & P Cooke 0-2 each; P Sweeney, F Burke & G O’Donnell 0-1 each.

Sligo: Kyle Cawley 1-2; A Marren 0-4 (0-1f); L Gaughan 0-3 (0-2f); N Murphy 0-2; P Hughes 0-1.

Galway: R Lavelle 7; D Kyne 6, S Ó Ceallaigh 7, D Wynne 6; C Sweeney 7, G Bradshaw 7, S Kelly 8; T Flynn 8, P Cooke 8; J Heaney 7, S Walsh 9, E Brannigan 8; D Comer 9, I Burke 8, B McHugh 7.

Subs: P Sweeney 6 for McHugh (43), M Daly 6 for Flynn (49), G O’Donnell 7 for C Sweeney (58), F Burke 6 for I Burke (60), J Duane 5 for Bradshaw (65), D Cummins 5 for Walsh (66).

Sligo: A Devaney 7; C Harrison 5, R Donovan 5, K McDonnell 5; G O’Kelly Lynch 6, A McIntyre 5, E McHugh 5; P O’Connor 6, N Murphy 6; N Ewing 5, L Gaughan 6, C Henry 5; A Marren 5, P Hughes 5, Kyle Cawley 8.

Subs: S Carribine 8 for Henry (21), C Breheny 7 for Hughes (28), L Nicholson 8 for Harrison (half time), K Cawley 6 for O’Kelly Lynch (60), F Cawley 5 for McHugh (63, black card), D Cummins 6 for McIntyre (66).

Ref – N Mooney (Cavan)

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