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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Galway a qualified success - but they want to carry on winning

YOUNG GUN: Galway’s flying forward Shane Walsh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
YOUNG GUN: Galway’s flying forward Shane Walsh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Come what may against Monaghan on Saturday week, Galway are through to their first All-Ireland senior football semi-final in 17 years.

But it's not a dead-rubber for the visitors to Salthill - and nor is it a 'nothing game' for Galway.

Put bluntly, if the Tribesmen win they avoid four-in-a-row chasing Dublin at the penultimate stage. Lose to Monaghan and that will be their semi-final fate.

Shane Walsh and his Galway team-mates can't afford to get caught up with such speculative thoughts. They can only aim to carry on what they've been doing all season - winning matches and all the while learning from their mistakes.

They have played 13 league and championship games in 2018, winning 11, drawing one and losing just that s olitary Division 1 final to Dublin on April Fool's Day.

Sunday's absorbing battle in Newbridge represented another step-up: they have won their first two salvoes in the new quarter-final group stages, against Kerry and now Kildare.

"It's great for us going forward that we're winning these games," said Walsh of Galway's occasionally fraught 0-19 to 0-16 victory.

Analysing

But he cautioned: "It's going to be a bit of tough analysing, looking back on that game. We conceded a lot of scores there and a lot of mistakes on our own behalf.

"We'll be knuckling down this week - we might have a game off (this weekend) but we certainly don't have training off."

Now for Monaghan. Galway have already enjoyed a four-point league victory over the Farney men, in Pearse Stadium last March.

"You know what to expect from Monaghan, they're seasoned campaigners. They've been around the block the last couple of years," Walsh reminded. "They've been giving Dublin big games of it and Kerry and the like, so we know fully what to expect in two weeks' time.

"We're delighted to get over Kildare ... Kildare were always going to have their purple patch and it's a credit to them. They gave it absolutely everything. We knew they were fighting for their lives.

"We were never going to be home and dry, we saw last week where we conceded a goal towards the end of the (Kerry) game. We knew if that was coming to the end of the game on Sunday, that could be a game-changer."

What could well be a semi-final game-changer is the opposition.

One line of thought suggests Galway might actually be well-advised losing to Monaghan as they'd have a better chance of beating Dublin in a semi-final rather than the final itself.

It's a dubious argument to begin with even before you factor in Kevin Walsh's opinion.

Tiddlywinks

"If it's a game of tiddlywinks you don't want to lose it," the Galway manager insisted.

"We'll be absolutely doing our very, very best (against Monaghan). But we'll have to assess the injury situation; a few guys went off there with ankles.

"We just have to see where we're at. But we'll take this and go back to work on Tuesday night."

There's a chance that Ciaran Duggan could be available as he continues his recuperation from the broken wrist, suffered on club duty with Annaghdown last month, that ruled him out for the first two rounds of the Super 8s.

Duggan's potential return would boost Walsh's midfield options, already depleted by Paul Conroy's double leg break against Kerry.

"Ciaran is improving. He got the cast off last week so we just have to work on him over the next two weeks to see where it takes us," the Galway boss said.

On the flip side, Michael Daly's injury-hit season suffered another early blow against Kildare after a flying start in which he kicked two points from play before his tenth minute departure.

"He got two chances at the start of last week (against Kerry) and didn't get them. But he needs game time, started again for that reason," Walsh outlined.

"He's a quality footballer. So, even those ten minutes will certainly help him and hopefully the injury is not too (bad)."

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