Sunday 20 January 2019

'It's up to us and everyone to close gap'

Galway manager Kevin Walsh. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Galway manager Kevin Walsh. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Galway manager Kevin Walsh insists it's "up to everyone else to close the gap" to four-in-a-row chasing Dublin after watching his team go down by nine points in yesterday's All-Ireland semi-final clash at a dreary Croke Park.

Walsh's men had drawn with Dublin in the league round robin and lost by four points when they met in the league final and so were considered by many to be the side best placed to rattle the champions.

However, they were comprehensively outclassed in the second period as Jim Gavin's side moved to within a single victory of becoming just the fourth side to win Sam Maguire four times in succession.

"It looks that way at the minute," replied the Galway manager when asked if Dublin were well ahead of the chasing pack.

"They are highly experienced, they probably get stronger as the summer goes on and they have a huge panel and they know each other inside out, so it's up to ourselves and everyone else to close the gap.

"When we look at this at the end of the year - I keep talking about end-of-year accounts - we'll look at ourselves to see if we have made progress or not, and if we can keep closing the gap on the top teams.

"I just said to the boys there, you never know who will be in the dressing room next year. Things change all the time so we'll look at ourselves and see what we have achieved."

Walsh's men trailed by just two points at half-time, but they might have even held the interval lead, had Damien Comer converted a goal chance. There was also Eamonn Brannigan's golden opportunity to score from the penalty spot, but he was denied by a brilliant Stephen Cluxton save.

"Obviously we were two down at half-time, we probably should have been leading at half-time. Playing a team the quality of Dublin and not to put your chances away probably put us under pressure, and then one or two early scores after half-time - once that happened we were on the back foot."

Gavin expressed his satisfaction at how his side responded in the second half. The prize for their latest convincing victory is a shot at immortality as the Dubs prepare for a remarkable sixth All-Ireland final in eight years.

Gavin also insisted after the match that Cian O'Sullivan was removed as a 'precaution'.

"My initial reaction is that I'm happy with the win," said the Dublin manager. "Semi-finals are there to be won and we're just happy to get through it. First of all you're pleased with the victory.

"We prepared well for the game and that probably showed in the performance. Coming into the game we had been so impressed with what Galway have brought.

"This year they have been really, really impressive and we knew it was going to be a really tight game.

"It was at half-time and we just told the boys to keep doing what they were doing and we'd hope that we'd eventually get through. (We're) just happy with the win."

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