Returning stars give Galway a boost ahead of Connacht semi-final

Galway travel to Dr Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon to face off against a Roscommon side that surprised many by defeating Mayo in the Connacht quarter-final two weeks ago. The game throws in at 4.30 and is live on RTE 2.

Galway improved hugely after their league defeat to Roscommon - their only loss in the seven group games. Now they will have a score to settle after that poor performance in Pearse Stadium.

Davy Burke’s stock continues to rise after his side was at its imposing best in defeating the newly-crowned league champions in McHale Park.

With Mayo having won the league final the previoius week, not many gave the Rossies a chance. However Burke was bullish after the game, lamenting the lack of respect given to his side in the build up to the game and reminding everybody that Roscommon came third just behind Galway and Mayo in the league.

Galway, however, still go into this game as favourites. Based on overall league performances and the return of key players, it is perhaps understandably so.

Joyce announced his 40-man championship squad for the season on Monday night and it is a huge boost for all involved to see Kieran Molloy named after his cruciate injury last year. Moycullen have the largest contingent in the squad with nine players. After winning two of the last three county finals, it is no surprise.

When the two sides met in the league in early February, Galway were still without Shane Walsh and had lost Damien Comer to injury early on. In a competitive league, any team will find it hard to cope without their two marquee forwards, but Galway had seemed to be managing well until the final 20 minutes.

Joyce’s side failed to score after the 50th minute of that game, and Roscommon finished strongly, producing the last five scores and winning by a single point.

However, Galway’s defence was notoriously mean throughout the league, conceding an average of about 10 points a game, and they will be keen to keep that record on track on Sunday evening. Players such as Seán Kelly, Dylan McHugh and John Daly fronted up as the most experienced players in the back line, while Johnny McGrath and Cian Hernon stood out towards the end of a fine league campaign for the Tribesmen on their return to division one.

With Comer, Walsh and Finnerty all now returned to full fitness, a fit Johnny Heaney will be key for Galway if they are to get over the line and reach their eighth Connacht final in a row.

This is also the eighth time since 2016 that the two sides have met each other in the Connacht championship after the 2016 final ended in a draw, with Galway winning four and Roscommon winning two of the previous seven.

Elsewhere in the other semi-final New York will travel to Sligo and hope to turn them over on Saturday evening after their recent win against Leitrim. Galway fans will be keeping a close eye on this game, both in the hope of meeting the victors in the final. There is that Galway connection with former county footballers Adrian Varley and Eoghan Kerin lining out alongside former county hurler Johnny Glynn. That game throws in at 2.30 and is live on GAAGO.

 

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