London calling for Tribesmen's Championship return

John Daly. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile.

John Daly. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile.

Championship football slips back into gear this weekend with Galway travelling to Ruislip to play London in the Connacht quarter final on Saturday.

After a relatively disappointing league campaign, Galway has a chance to progress in the ‘easy’ side of the Connacht draw. The game in London - rarely a formality - will hopefully be followed by a semi-final in two weeks against the winners of Sligo v Leitrim.

London have continually improved over the last number of years and shocked many with their win over Mayo in the first round of the FBD league. Galway’s last visit to Ruislip in 2019 showed how worrying this fixture can be for travelling teams, as until recently, wins against London and New York were perennially expected.

In 2019, Galway let a five-point lead slide before the break. In the final 30 minutes of play they only scored three frees, needing an injury time point from Shane Walsh to ensure a four point win. London have only managed to win once in Ruislip, in 2013 against Sligo.

Padraic Joyce’s injury worries means he will be taking no chances on Saturday afternoon, and will be sure to play the strongest available team.

There is always plenty of excitement when trips to London and New York occur, as each county gets the opportunity to travel just once every five years. The edge of the pitch in Ruislip is very close to the supporters, ensuring that all players feel the party atmosphere.

Of the team that started in London in 2019, only Liam Silke, John Daly and Johnny Heaney have survived, while Rob Finnerty was introduced as a second half sub on the day.

Players like Cillian Ó Curraoin, Liam Ó Conghaile, Patrick Egan and Jack McCabe look likely to have their first involvement in Connacht championship football on Saturday. Only Ó Curraoin has played championship football at this level before, having been introduced as a sub against Armagh in 2023.

Knockout football doesn’t usually allow for players to be given a chance. However, as the race for Sam Maguire has been diluted, more opportunity will be gifted to certain players.

Galway’s survival in division one guarantees their position in the group stages, but winning the Connacht championship means a better chance of at least making an All-Ireland quarter final. This is because the winners from each province will be kept separate. Padraic Joyce and his team will be under no illusions as to the importance of showing that 2022 was not just a flash in the pan. Winning a third-in-a-row Connacht title will go a long way in showing that.

Galway are expected to win on Saturday afternoon, but a good performance is what will keep the worries about league form from germinating.

The game is only available to watch live on GAAGO, but commentary for the 3pm throw-in on Saturday will be live on Galway Bay FM.


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