herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Stagnant Galway difficult to fancy

Kevin Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Kevin Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile

If Galway are planning the second big shock of this football championship (following Tipp's stellar lead against Cork) then they have fulfilled the first prerequisite for such an ambush ... don't give any pre-match hint of what is about to unfold.

Kevin Walsh has lost several key men this season; his team's meandering Division 2 form didn't point to any significant step-up from last year; and he has opted for an unproven goalkeeper and full-back line in a team that includes five SFC debutants.

To top it all, tonight's Connacht semi-final showdown will be their first competitive outing in 11 weeks.

All of this helps to explain the pessimism, even apathy, permeating some of the talk from Galway.

There is also the fear that Mayo, as a proven championship team, will cut loose against the old enemy.

And yet there are some reasons for Mayo trepidation too. Their league form was ropey enough and London was something of a glorified challenge.

Stephen Rochford's defensive options have been weakened by injuries to Ger Cafferkey and Chris Barrett - and attack, in the guise of Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Danny Cummins, is the one area where Galway have the capacity to trouble Mayo. Aidan O'Shea and Cillian O'Connor (who has very little game time in his legs) could also do with showing signs of their old stellar influence.

So, is it ambush time? Hard to see it. Mayo will have too much power, savvy, and strength in reserve to pull through, be it via an early blitz or by wearing Galway into submission.

ODDS: Mayo 1/6 Draw 12/1 Gal 5/1

VERDICT: Mayo

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