Tuesday 26 March 2019

Walsh hoping his trailblazers can bridge 84-year gap

Walsh: Dublin a huge challenge. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Walsh: Dublin a huge challenge. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Galway have not beaten Dublin in the championship in 84 years but boss Kevin Walsh is hopeful that the current crop are real trail-blazes.

Their summer journey has seen them defeat Kerry in the championship for the first time in 53 years and Walsh - himself a double All-Ireland senior winner - reckons that they might still have something left in the tank.

At the same time, the former midfielder is well aware of the size of the task as they step forward and become the latest to try end Dublin's dominance of the championship.

A draw in the league after a feisty affair at Pearse Stadium was followed by their only defeat of the campaign when they lost out to Jim Gavin's men in the final at Croke Park.

That was Galway's first defeat of 2018 - they won the Connacht FBD League in January - and their only other loss was to Monaghan last weekend when they had already qualified for the last four.

Walsh's experience as an All-Ireland winner in 1998 and 2001 is help to the current crop, but he prefers to dwell on what his charges can achieve, rather than what he did in the past.

So, on one hand, he wants to them to treat today's showdown with the champions as another game but, at the same time, realises they need to be prepared for the magnitude of the occasion.

"In a way, it's another game but it's not either," said Walsh. "There will be something like 60,000 (in attendance) so that's a different atmosphere and it's important for some of us who have experience that it is passed on but it's also this group going on and try make their own history.

"That's what has been happening in the last few years, we keep taking step forwards and now we have got to the last four for the first time since 2001.

"It's great for these guys; it's a massive experience for them but there is no doubt Dublin are the one team who we have taken on twice this year in any meaningful game and failed to beat them twice. But that's the challenge."

Today's clash at headquarters will be the tenth championship meeting between the counties and Dublin hold the advantage, with seven victories to Galway's two.

Dublin edged out Galway in the 1922 final before Galway bettered their rivals from the east (by 0-8 to 1-4) in the 1933 semi-final, which was played at Mullingar's Cusack Park, and then beat them in the 1934 decider by 3-5 to 1-9.

Since then it has been all Dublin victories.

They won the finals of 1942, '63, '74 and '83 - the infamous clash when Dublin finished with 12 men and Galway with 14 - along with the semi-final triumphs in '58 and '76.

Eight of the nine ties have been decided by a goal or less - the '74 final which Kevin Heffernan's heroes of the Hill won by 0-14 to 1-6 being the exception - while, incredibly, neither team has managed to score more than 14 points in a game against each other.

Irish Independent

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