Could Galway reach an All-Ireland Football Final?

Galway v Kerry pictured in a February 2019 round 4 league meeting between the sides. Photo credit: Shane Tighe

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Galway is in a peculiar spot coming into their upcoming Connacht Final against Mayo. During their Allianz League campaign, the Tribesmen were nothing short of abysmal. Relegated along with provincial rivals Roscommon, they looked out of sorts. Now, after beating the Rossies to book their place in Sunday’s final, the question is being posed, ‘’could Galway reach an All-Ireland Final?’’

Padraic Joyce’s side has been hot and cold in Connacht the past few seasons. Their last wins being in 2016 and 2018. Losing three out of five final appearances. With their last final being against Mayo last year’s December showdown, ultimately losing by a point.

They came into this year hoping to improve on last season’s failure, their league form, however, put a dent in many people’s hopes for what their side could achieve for the upcoming championship season.

Now, league form is different to championship form, usually, most teams aspiring for All-Irelands use the league as a platform for fitness, implementing new tactics to see if they work, giving other players a chance to get minutes under their belt and to give pundits and fans something to talk about.

Could They?

The question still remains, could Galway reach an All-Ireland Final?

It is not out of the question!

The 9-time All-Ireland winners have been steadily improving season by season, when they defeated Mayo in the 2016 Connacht Final, it looked like Mayo were finally knocked off their perch, becoming the dominant force in their provincial outings was step one for the Tribesmen. Beating Roscommon in a replay to capture their 45th Connacht title.

They looked set to challenge for an All-Ireland Final spot, but again the hype was unjustified. Losing in their quarter-final to dark horses Tipperary emphatically. While Mayo, the team they sent through the back door, made another All-Ireland Final appearance.

The following year, while not winning Connacht, they did eliminate Mayo in the Connacht semi-final. Although, they ultimately were eliminated by Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final, while Mayo reached another All-Ireland final.

Some may make excuses as to why Mayo kept losing to Galway after years of dominance, that Mayo side was already on tired legs when the season started, the Galway loss being the kick in the teeth they needed. Getting better and better with each game.

While Galway, for more reasons than one, acting as if their job was already done. Beating Mayo was their main goal. When they faced Tipperary, they looked like they only had to turn up.

After their relegation to Division 2, losing to Monaghan in an exciting relegation semi-final any hopes of challenging looked out of the question. Now, after beating the Rossie’s yet again, they will go head-to-head with Mayo for all the marbles.

The Challenge of Dublin

The winner will face Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final. A daunting task on paper, but with optimism.

For an unknown reason, the Dubs have looked off the pace this term. Hampering a lead against Kerry in the league in a game that ended up in a draw, edging out Wexford and getting a scare of Meath in their Leinster semi-final meeting, many have touted as the once ‘’invincibles’’ as now beatable.

With retirements and frequent injuries to the panel, Dessie Farrell’s side looks like they can be got at, whoever comes out with the win Sunday, will be full of confidence that they can be the one to topple the unprecedented seven-in-a-row (All-Ireland victories).

If key player Shane Walsh can stay fit, Galway can be an imposing outfit going forward, but with questions of will, they find form after the league? Have they already peaked? It will be an interesting turn of events come Sunday afternoon.

 

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