Walsh kicks Tribesmen to knockout stages

Shane Walsh scored a vital goal for Galway against Westmeath on Sunday, ensuring his side's passage through to the knockout stages of the All-Ireland Championship. 
He is pictured here with his 
nephew Milo Costello, 
aged six.

Shane Walsh scored a vital goal for Galway against Westmeath on Sunday, ensuring his side's passage through to the knockout stages of the All-Ireland Championship. He is pictured here with his nephew Milo Costello, aged six.

Galway confirmed their progression through the group stage of the All-Ireland championship with a hard fought 1-12 to 0-11 win over Westmeath last Sunday.

In a game quite similar to the Connacht semi-final victory over Sligo, Galway struggled to get going and needed a late goal to cross the finish line. Unlike in the Sligo game however, Galway never looked like losing - and after two testing fixtures against Mayo and Derry, a bit of a lull can be expected. The importance of this win is emphasised by the absentee list, including Seán Kelly, Damien Comer and Rob Finnerty.

After the game Padraic Joyce was asked about the availability of the trio for the final match against Armagh. The Galway manager said it would take a miracle for any of them to be fit, as none of them are back on the training pitch yet. With the possibility of three games in three weeks coming up, injury management is a top priority considering the importance of the aforementioned players.

If Galway can get a win against the Orchard county, then an extra two weeks will help reduce the risk of any of these players getting injured again.

Shane Walsh continued his recent good form by scoring 1-4 against Dessie Dolan’s men. His late goal put the tribesmen in front for the first time since the 31st minute. Never more than two points behind, the Galway men were always well in the game, and when Walsh latched onto a loose Westmeath pass he never looked like missing. From then on Galway were determined not to drop any points.

Armagh’s drubbing of Derry on Sunday afternoon leaves Galway and Armagh guaranteed to progress through the group. On the other hand, Derry and Westmeath are on zero points after two games - and will play a winner takes all game to see who goes through in third place.

Galway and Armagh’s game will be a group decider to see who comes out on top. The two teams will clash in championship for the third time in three years, with one win each so far. This game will also play huge significance - as the winners will get to skip the dreaded preliminary quarter final.

Last year three of the four teams who topped their groups also won their quarter-finals, showing the benefit of getting the extra weeks rest and playing one game less.

Despite Derry having yet another poor performance, Armagh still looked very dangerous, especially on the counter. Galway will need a huge improvement in their performance from the Westmeath game if they are to avoid losing to Kieran McGeeney’s side for the second year in a row. Last year’s loss came at a huge cost as the tribesmen suffered injuries. An already depleted side then had to play just a week later and ended up losing narrowly to Mayo.

On a more positive note, Cian Hernon made his first championship appearance for Galway in a year, Cillian McDaid got some more badly needed minutes into the tank, and Tomo Culhane returned from the bench after his injury against London.

 

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