Saturday 17 March 2018

Galway suffer 14-year Croke Park itch

Galway manager Kevin Walsh
Galway manager Kevin Walsh
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The last time Galway footballers won a game in Croke Park, the Hogan Stand was under reconstruction, Kerry had lost an All-Ireland semi-final by 15 points, Dublin had gone six years without a Leinster title, Armagh and Tyrone were still waiting for their first All-Ireland senior football titles.

That's the frustrating backdrop for Galway as they attempt to close a 14-year gap without a victory at HQ when they take on Donegal in a Round 4 qualifier on Saturday.

Galway's last success in Croke Park was in the 2001 All-Ireland final when they beat Meath by 0-17 to 0-8 - the biggest winning margin in the final since Kerry demolished Dublin by 17 points in 1978. It brought Galway their second senior All-Ireland crown in four seasons and with the U-21s taking the title a year later, it looked as if the Tribesmen were primed for a glorious first decade of the new Millennium.

However, it didn't turn out as planned, much to the frustration of a county that's in third place on the senior All-Ireland Roll of Honour.

They went from 2008 to 2013 without playing a single League or Championship game in Croke Park.

Current manager Kevin Walsh, who won his second All-Ireland medal in 2001, would never have thought that 14 years later he would be trying to plot their next win in Croke Park.

Galway have lost eight and drawn one of nine Championship and League games there since 2001, leaving them way behind all the strong counties and also many in the lower-ranked group.

It's a truly dismal return by Galway, who would have been long regarded as a county whose expansive style of play suited the wide open spaces of Croke Park.

That certainly hasn't be the case since 2002 when their miserable tale of woe began with an eight-point defeat by Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

They led early on through a Michael Donnellan goal before losing their way in what was a poor defence of their All-Ireland title.

Ironically, the only time Galway didn't lose in Croke Park over the last 13 years was in 2003 when Walsh kicked the equalising point in stoppage time against Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Galway lost the replay in Castlebar.

Galway's miserable run in Croke Park is in marked contrast to their successful years in 1998-2001, a period in which they won seven, drew one and lost one (2000 All-Ireland replay v Kerry) of nine games.

Galway's awful Croke Park run since 2001 features defeats by Kerry (4), Cork (2), Tyrone (1) and Mayo (1).

This is Galway's third successive year in Croke Park, having lost to Kerry last year and to Cork in 2013.


(Croke Park 2002-2014)

2014: Kerry 1-20 Galway 2-10

(All-Ireland quarter-final)

2013: Cork 1-17 Galway 1-16

(Round 4 qualifier)

2008: Kerry 1-21 Galway 1-16

(All-Ireland quarter-final)

2007: Mayo 2-10 Galway 1-12

(Allianz League semi-final)

2005: Cork 2-14 Galway 2-11

(All-Ireland quarter-final)

2004: Tyrone 1-16 Galway 0-11

(Round 3 qualifiers)

2004: Kerry 3-11 Galway 1-16

(Allianz League final)

2003: Donegal 0-13 Galway 1-10

(All-Ireland quarter-final)

2002: Kerry 2-17 Galway 1-12

(All-Ireland quarter-final)

Irish Independent

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