Galway 4-24 Sligo 1-12: A pleasing performance in more ways that one for Galway and their manager Kevin Walsh.
Not alone does it secure their place in a Connacht final against Roscommon but it also silences the many critics who have lined up to take pot shots at the Tribesmen for a style of play that may not follow the template of how Galway football should be played.
This was awesome and ruthless attacking from a score-hungry Galway.
Before the game it was clear they were a more polished side than their opponents and as a result Walsh set his team up without their usual defensive blanket.
And how that approached reaped rewards – with Galway ruthless in punishing errors and nailing scorers. Pity was in short supply for the Sligo underdogs. Damien Comer proved to be their tormentor in chief.
Freed of his recent defensive duties he was a constant threat and his two late, late goals with Sligo on their knees were the killer blows.
But now Galway turn their focus towards Roscommon in the provincial final. The venue has been decided and despite suggestions that the game would be moved, home advantage falls to the champions. Walsh is happy just to see his side get there with style.
“I suppose the fact that we’ve played football in Division 1 and then against Mayo was important,” said Walsh.
“We’ve been playing at the higher level for the last couple of months. We’re heading for Roscommon now. They’ve been in Division 1 up to last season and they’re coming up again.
“They’re Connacht champions, they’re league champions so it’s probably going to be a tough one. We’re going to put this one behind us, learn a few things from it and get as ready as we can. I think the conversion rates were a lot higher than in the Mayo match. We maybe only had one or two wides before half-time. It was great for ourselves having such a lead at half-time.
“We knew Sligo had finished strongly in Division 3 and beaten Derry at home. They were well seasoned and well hardened. It was important for us too to get off to a good start at home in particular. The conversion rates were a big part of that.”
Cathal Corey’s side had survived the drop from Division 3 with a last round win over Derry, but here they faced a side clearly superior to them. They had two points to spare over London in the first round, but it seemed to have little impact on their performance here.
Adrian Marren got them up and running after three minutes, but seven unanswered points came from the Tribesmen who surged clear by the 17th minute. Pat Hughes and Niall Murphy managed to stem the tide with a couple of points for Sligo, but again Galway responded comprehensively with an attacking blitz, while Sean Kelly’s well-taken goal – which was laid on by a sweet Damien Comer pass – put them well in control by the interval.
With Comer stationed in the full-forward line for the most part and with Ian Burke and Barry McHugh hunting around him Galway looked really dangerous.
Shane Walsh looked as comfortable as he ever has in the Galway shirt and added five points for his side from his centre-forward role but it was Comer who proved the most dangerous threat.
Comer contributed two points to that early flurry of scores and then added two goals in the space of a minute at the death for his side. Galway definitely went hunting goals in the closing stages and they could have had a couple more, but with Burke already helping himself to a second-half goal, this win was a long time in the bag.
Scorers for Galway:
D Comer 2-2, S Kelly 1-2, I Burke 1-2, S Walsh 0-5 (1f), E Brannigan 0-3, B McHugh 0-3 (2f), J Heaney 0-2, P Cooke 0-2, P Sweeney 0-1, F Burke 0-1, G O’Donnell 0-1.
Scorers for Sligo:
Kyle Cawley 1-2, A Marren 0-4 (1f), L Gaughan 0-3 (2f), N Murphy 0-2, P Hughes 0-1.
R Lavelle; D Kyne, S Ó Ceallaigh, D Wynne; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, S Kelly; T Flynn, P Cooke; J Heaney, S Walsh, E Brannigan; D Comer, I Burke, B McHugh.
P Sweeney for McHugh (43), M Daly for Flynn (49), G O’Donnell for C Sweeney (58), F Burke for I Burke (60), J Duane for Bradshaw (65), D Cummins for Walsh (66).
A Devaney; C Harrison, R Donovan, K McDonnell; G O’Kelly Lynch, A McIntyre, E McHugh; P O’Connor, N Murphy; N Ewing, L Gaughan, C Henry; A Marren, P Hughes, Kyle Cawley.
S Carribine for Henry (21), C Breheny for Hughes (28), L Nicholson for Harrison (half time), Keelan Cawley for O’Kelly Lynch (60), F Cawley for McHugh (63, black card), D Cummins for McIntyre (66).
Noel Mooney (Cavan)