Saturday 19 October 2019

Cyril Farrell: 'This is a massive game for Galway, when they either get back on track or head into real danger'

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

You can imagine what will be on Davy Fitzgerald's mind as the Wexford bus heads through Salthill towards Pearse Stadium tomorrow.

One point bagged after the visit to Parnell Park, so if Wexford win, or even get another draw, he will feel they can take enough from the home games against Carlow and Kilkenny to reach the Leinster final. Failing that, third place would keep them in the All-Ireland race, as happened last year.

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This is Galway's second - and last - home game, so the pressure is really on as they have to travel to Nowlan Park and Parnell Park in their next two outings. Those challenges would be difficult for them in any season, but especially so at a time when there's an air of uncertainty around.

The swagger that comes with being All-Ireland champions disappeared last year and hasn't been replaced with anything especially convincing.

Those inside the camp know that better than anybody and they also know that there's more in them than has come out this year. With respect to Carlow, Galway's performance against them wasn't anywhere near what you would expect from a team that won the All-Ireland only two years ago.

OK, so they were always ahead but, unlike Kilkenny last Sunday, they never put Carlow away. It was, of course, the second time this season that they found Carlow much harder to handle than others did.

Opportunity

They missed Joe Canning, but that should have presented the opportunity for others to step forward and take responsibility. That's what it's about at this level - everyone has to stand up when the occasion demands it.

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In fairness, the forwards did well, but from midfield back, there was a looseness about them that allowed Carlow a leeway they would not have expected. Galway got away with it, but won't escape if they repeat it against Wexford, who are far more battle-hardened than Colm Bonnar's men.

This is a massive game for Galway, the day when they either flash out a clear sign that they are back on track or head into the final two games in real danger of not qualifying for the All-Ireland stages. No county is too big for that to happen, as Tipperary discovered last year.

I expect this to be a turning point for Galway. Losing Canning has weakened them, but they've known since mid-March that they wouldn't have him for this part of the season, at least, so it's not as it were sprung on them this week.

Even without him, they have huge forward power if they crank it up. And even if the defence hasn't been all that convincing, their job will be made much easier if the forwards are running in a decent score at the other end.

Wexford were disappointed to have dropped a point against Dublin last Sunday, but taking even one was no bad return from their visit to Parnell Park.

And while they were well beaten by Galway in the league quarter-final, they scored three first-half goals, which will give their attack a good feel for tomorrow's encounter.

Galway have a fair idea how Wexford will set out their stall, but can they figure a way around it? They managed quite easily in the corresponding fixture in Wexford Park last year, but they were All-Ireland champions at the time and playing with far more confidence.

They need to get back into the mindset tomorrow and make home advantage count. They cannot afford to show any sign of insecurity because that would play right into Wexford's hands. And when it comes to sniffing that sort of thing, there's no one better than Fitzy.

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