Galway set up Connacht final showdown against old enemy

Galway's Robert Finnerty scores the winning goal in the final minutes against Sligo. Galway will now face Mayo in two weeks' time at the Connacht final.

Galway's Robert Finnerty scores the winning goal in the final minutes against Sligo. Galway will now face Mayo in two weeks' time at the Connacht final.

Padraic Joyce’s team have qualified for the Connacht Final on Sunday week by the skin of their teeth. A stern test from Sligo in Markievicz Park last Saturday saw Galway scrape by with a last gasp goal.

The score-line of 1-13 to 0-14 in favour of the Tribesmen was a harsh result for the Yeats County, as they left empty handed.

Galway played second fiddle to Sligo for large parts of the game but perhaps showed a clinical edge in the final moments. An aspect of their play that had been absent for the previous sixty minutes.

Tiring Sligo legs surely played their part in this, in particular for the late matching-winning goal.

Sligo coughed up possession easily in their own half before Damien Comer pounced on the unfortunate defender. He laid it off to Johnny Heaney, who set up Robert Finnerty for the easiest goal he will score in a Galway jersey.

Sligo will now enter the Tailteann Cup, but there is absolutely no doubt about it that they are a team on an upward trajectory. This can only be a good thing for football in the province. Achieving promotion to division 2 next season will be firmly on their radar.

For Galway, they will face the old nemesis Mayo to see who can get their hands on the Nestor Cup for 2024. Mayo overcame Roscommon in a tame clash on Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park by five points, 1-15 to 0-13.

Yet again Ryan O’Donoghue put in a man of the match performance for Kevin McStay’s team, following up on his excellent performance in the Bronx a fortnight previous. At the moment he is probably the form player in the country, with his level of attacking output improving steadily.

A Galway victory will depend hugely on how much O’Donoghue can be limited in Pearse Stadium. Aidan O’Shea spent the majority of the game in and around the square as a foil to O’Donoghue which he played to great effect, winning hard ball and laying it off to support runners.

They did however struggle on long kickouts for prolonged periods in the game, both on their own and opposition. Outside of O’Shea there is a lack of height on the Mayo team which is an area Galway will surely look to target.

Galway have a lot to work on in the meantime if they want to beat their in-form neighbours, who will be favourites.

The return of Shane Walsh and Damien Comer is more than welcome for Padraic Joyce, who will also be hoping for Matthew Tierney and Cillian McDaid to come back into the fold soon. Naturally, these lads will be a bit undercooked, so getting time under their belts ahead of the round robin stages is crucial.

Galway would not have beaten Sligo if it wasn’t for the introduction of Comer, so it is absolutely imperative that he sees significant game time on Sunday week. Similarly, Shane Walsh should be able for more exposure after being eased into the game last time out.

Despite the manner in which the game was won, there are reasons to be positive as a Galway supporter. The bodies are starting to return from the physio table at an important time. It is the early stages of the championship yet.

The game will throw-in on Sunday, May 5 at 4.00pm and can be viewed on RTE.


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