Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Long road ahead as Galway’s limitations exposedJune 13, 2012 - 10:58am
IN the context of Galway’s football troubles over the past five or six years, what happened in Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening comes as no great surprise, but judged against the squad’s encouraging conclusion to the recent National League campaign and their trimming of Roscommon in the opening round of the Connacht championship, the loss to Sligo is particularly deflating.
Most of us were starting to believe that new manager Alan Mulholland had already kick-started a renaissance, but reality bit in front of Galway’s own supporters as their limitations were exposed by a Sligo team which ended up having five points to spare having been the same margin down after 30 minutes. There were no hard luck stories and the Galway camp now has much soul searching to do ahead of the qualifiers.
The 2-14 to 0-15 outcome represents a major setback for the Tribesmen who had momentum going into the fixture, but never really fired despite establishing an early advantage. They managed only six points from play and lost the second-half by 2-9 to 0-6 which brooks no argument. Galway were clearly flattered by the Roscommon result as the opposition were probably even more wretched than we presumed at the time, while the shoulder injury to team captain Finian Hanley only compounds the gloom.
Mind you, Hanley was not having a good evening on Man of the Match Adrian Marren prior to his retirement in the final quarter. The outstanding Sligo full forward finished the match with 2-6 to his credit and tormented a sluggish Galway defence with his accuracy and smart use of possession. Beside him, David Kelly returned after a long injury lay-off and he too caused no end of problems. With Alan Costello and Shane McManus also to the fore, together with full back Johnny Martyn leading a hard-working rearguard, Sligo were simply the better and more cohesive team.
In contrast, Galway were flat on the evening with few players surviving the wreckage. The back-line was too easily unhinged and outsmarted, with too many players too eager to join the attack at the expense of their basic defensive duties. Joe Begin did make a few thundering catches around midfield but, by the end of the game, Sligo had taken control of the sector, while the attack was far too heavily reliant on frees for scores.
Paul Conroy, the hero of the Roscommon win, earned three of those frees and also picked off three points from play which, in the circumstances, was a fair evening’s work, even if he was rarely as prominent as in Hyde Park. Mark Hehir was accurate from the placed ball, but like the remainder of the attack struggled to make real headway in open play. Sean Armstrong typically looked dangerous but promised more than he achieved.
Galway’s half forward unit didn’t deliver a score from play as the tactic of playing two natural half-backs – Gary Sice and Damien Burke – and a recognised midfielder, Thomas Flynn, in that sector left them seriously devoid of natural attackers. Michael Meehan and Padraic Joyce were called into action but, by that stage, Sligo’s tails were up and the Yeats County were heading for third championship win over Galway in their last five meetings.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.