Joyce demands a better 'team performance' from his players

Cian Hernon of Galway in action against Jack Smith of Westmeath during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 match between Westmeath and Galway at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Cian Hernon of Galway in action against Jack Smith of Westmeath during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 match between Westmeath and Galway at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Galway’s win against Westmeath on Saturday has guaranteed their progression from the group phase of the All-Ireland Championship as the only unbeaten side left in the race for Sam Maguire.

The victory ensures Westmeath cannot get more points than the Tribesmen, and now a draw in their final game against Armagh will be sufficient to ensure the top spot and avoid a preliminary quarter-final.

Westmeath led the game at half-time and the sides were level at 0-11 apiece when Ray Connellen received his marching orders in the 53rd minute with a second yellow card. This fully took the wind out of their so far excellent performance.

The combination of the extra man, and the introduction of Damien Comer, allowed Galway to kick on, scoring nine of the last 10 points to finish with a flattering eight-point win, 0-20 to 0-12.

Galway struggled with Westmeath’s set-up throughout the game, and Dessie Dolan’s Westmeath was full value for their half-time lead.

With Dylan McHugh injured, and both John Maher and Damien Comer rested, Galway then lost Rob Finnerty to injury early in the first half. Maher and Comer scored a combined 0-4 from play after being introduced in the 47th and 55th minutes respectively. Cian Hernon made his first championship start for Galway, having come off the bench against Sligo and Tyrone - Joyce showing his faith in Hernon who repaid his manager with a solid performance and two points. Hernon’s club mate Seán Fitzgerald came off the bench to make his championship debut. More importantly, after almost 18 months out with a shattered kneecap, Oileáin Árann’s Seán Mulkerrin made a return to the Galway dugout.

Joyce, again, was not happy with his side’s performance. Galway have played four championship games to date, but after the third, Joyce had challenged his side to do better.

"We’re saying this the last couple of games – and it’s positive to win games and not play well. We still kicked 20 scores, which is our target, but when are we going to put a performance together that is across the board?"

Joyce wants more from his group as a team rather than strong individual performances, and is looking for "an 8/10 team performance instead of individuals carrying us across the line".

"That’s the challenge for us, and we have a huge challenge now in two weeks’ time. That would be a nice place to start."

Kieran Molloy

In addition to the return of Mulkerrin, Joyce had some positive news on Kieran Molloy.

"Kieran is good. He got the all clear at his last meeting, so he needs to get sharpness. He is involved in most of the training, but there is an awful difference in coming back from injury in June when the pace of the game has gone so high, and they have to catch up."

Galway’s game against Armagh may come just too soon for Molloy, but after his cruciate injury for his club in 2022, it is great to see him back fully involved.

Galway footballers are also in action in the All-Ireland Minor Championship on Saturday when they travel to Carrick-on-Shannon to face Derry in the quarter-finals at 3.30pm.

 

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