Category: Archive

Galway through to final

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

Connacht football is well able to live with the big boys. That was the message from Galway’s totally convincing All Ireland football semi-final victory over Derry at Croke Park last Sunday. In fact, an off-color Derry were flattered by the five point margin.

Galway were better in every area. For a new generation of players, the talk of the great teams which won three All Irelands in the 1960s hasn’t always been inspirational. In fact, past glories have been more of a hindrance, but now, this side is on the cusp of glory.

Captain Ray Silke caught the mood perfectly. "What has made the difference?

We’re sick of losing really." And it showed. In the Connacht final replay, they had kicked 20 wides, this time there were only three. Galway’s pace in attack proved too much for a lethargic Derry and they led by 0-10 to 0-4 at the interval.

The constant fouling of the McKeever brothers, Kieran and Emmett, gave Galway a stream of frees which Padraig Joyce, Niall Finnegan and Micheal Donnellan greedily accepted. In the 51st minute, Kieran McKeever, who had earlier floored Donnellan, was sent off for a second bookable offense.

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A quick burst of scoring by Eamonn Burns and Joe Cassidy momentarily after the changeover momentarily gave Derry some hope, but the feeling that Galway could always go up a gear was emphasised as the excellent Jarlath Fallon and Joyce picked off a series of scores.

Galway’s defense also answered most of the pre-match questions as Tomas

Mannion kept the shackles on Joe Brolly, who was surprisingly substituted as early as the 44th minute, and Sean de Paor performed heroics at wing-back. Goalkeeper, Martin McNamara, with three superb saves, was another to shine. Derry’s goal, a penalty by Gary Coleman in the final minute, was too late to make any difference and appropriately, Galway still had enough spark to burst up the field for one late celebratory point by Fallon.

"There’s a lot of good things about this team," said manager John O’Mahony, who previously guided Mayo to an All Ireland decider, "and pace is one of them. We tried to utilise our strengths and we defended well. There’s an awful lot of improving to be done, but we’re in the final and that’s all we could ask at this stage."

If the memories of that ugly defeat by Dublin in 1983 are still in the memories, it’s fully 32 years since Galway tasted All Ireland success. Now only the winners of the second semi-final between the holders Kerry and

Kildare stand in their way of putting Connacht football back on the map.

The Tyrone minor footballers were able to put the atrocity at Omagh behind them for a few moments as they qualified for the All Ireland final with an impressive 1-14 to 1-3 victory over Leitrim.

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