Allianz National Football League Division One South (Round 2): Galway v Roscommon on Sunday in Pearse Stadium at 2 pm
It may be only the second week of action since the season returned, but this Sunday’s game between old rivals Roscommon and Galway in Salthill takes on huge significance following opening defeats for both teams last weekend.
It will be a wounded Galway team which takes the field this Sunday, and Roscommon will smell blood following the Tribesmen’s drubbing at the hands of David Clifford and Kerry last time out.
Padraic Joyce’s men were simply non-competitive on their long-awaited return to action, while Roscommon never gave up the ghost against Dublin and were unlucky to have been beaten by nine points in the end.
The likelihood is that both sides will be involved in relegation play-offs later in the league campaign, but the really big date for them is July 4th and the Connacht semi-final meeting at Dr. Hyde Park. Both sides will be eager to put down a marker ahead of that game.
Roscommon can be reasonably pleased with their display against Dublin. The attack looked sharp and it was good to see Ciaráin Murtagh back to his best. This weekend there may well be a starting place in attack for Conor Cox, who came off the bench against Dublin.
Eddie Nolan and Shane Killoran deserve another chance at midfield where they will probably clash with Peter Cooke and Paul Conroy who look to be Galway’s strongest combination.
Roscommon’s defence did well last weekend but Sean Mullooly’s absence is a blow and Anthony Cunningham will be hoping to have him back soon.
Galway have Damien Comer and Shane Walsh in the full-forward line. Both are outstanding players who did not make any impression last weekend against Kerry. They will be determined to put that right on Sunday.
Once again, the kick-out strategy will be very important and Colm Lavin and the backroom team will have been working hard on that this week. Last weekend the long ball was not a success, so expect to see more variety on Sunday.
Most Galway people will tell you that this game is absolutely huge for Padraic Joyce and his players. After what happened in Tralee last weekend they will want redemption. They will be pulling out all the stops to show that the Kerry horror show was a once-off.
The feeling in Galway is that while Joyce is viewed as one of the county’s all-time greats, another defeat could see him come under pressure. Such a scenario would have been unthinkable when he was appointed to replace Kevin Walsh at the start of 2020.
Games between these two rivals have been close in recent years and both sides can point to big wins. The forthcoming championship game on July 4th is the primary concern, but Galway need to recover from the humiliation they suffered in Tralee and get their season up and running.
For Roscommon, a win against the Tribesmen is always welcome and two league points ahead of the visit of Kerry would be a huge boost for Anthony Cunningham and his men.
This promises to be a fiercely fought encounter. The winners will gain a big advantage going into the championship game in early July.