GALWAY GAA (Preview) – GALWAY vs SLIGO (Sunday, 3.30pm Pearse Stadium) 

Galway vs Sligo

The odds are impressive, many pundits feel a procession to the ‘Super Eights’ has begun and things are good again in Galway football.  But the players and management know trap doors regularly find the Tribesmen’s feet and Kevin Walsh’s team won’t be taking their eye off the ball. 

After beating Mayo for the third consecutive year following a league final appearance, Galway are back in All-Ireland contention (well, at least in the best behind Dublin discussions) and they are two games away from taking their place in the new-look format.

It should be easy.  Sligo won just two games in the National League Division Three; Roscommon are fighting over keeping the Connacht Final in Dr. Hyde Park; and the maroon and white are almost unbackable favourites at 1/16 while the Yeats County are priced at 15/2.

But if Tipperary 2016 and Roscommon 2017 hasn’t thought anyone, shame on them!  Sligo have fallen down the ladder but they are quietly working away and have been focused on this game since last winter.

Cathal Corey’s team went down 1-12 to 0-11 to Galway in the FBD League but they started their championship campaign with an impressive 1-21 to 1-11 win over London.  And they beat a full-strength Mayo 1-16 to 1-14 recently in a challenge match.

While Galway were 0-16 to 0-11 winners in their last championship meeting in 2014, Sligo (under current Galway manager Kevin Walsh) did prevail in 2010 and 2012 – the latter a 2-14 to 0-15 win in Pearse Stadium.

Kevin McDonnell, Charlie Harrison and Neil Ewing are tough defenders; Niall Murphy is playing well in midfield while Cathal Henry and Adrian Marren will lead the attack.

But Galway are now Division One and if they haven’t learned from the Tipperary and Roscommon games, then the progress and feel good factor is a myth.  Quite simply, Galway need to march into the national series as Connacht champions.

Ruairi Lavelle is more assured now in goal; Eoghan Kerin, Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh and the versatile Sean Kelly (who struck a goal against Sligo in the 2015 minor final) as as good as any around.

Ciaran Duggan is the recent midfield revelation with Galway’s attacking enterprise led by captain Damien Comer, Eamonn Brannigan and Shane Walsh.

Walsh’s team are getting plaudits for their defensive discipline since coach Paddy Tally’s arrival.  They have held their own with the country’s elite but now must bear the mantle of favourites with less burden than previously shown.

Galway will win but they will get a game!  And where they stand in the All-Ireland pecking order should be clearer on Sunday evening.

Verdict: Galway