Bradshaw has Sammon leaping
When Galway overcame neighbours Mayo in the Connacht senior football championship final last month, Gary Bradshaw won the man of the match award.
Gary who? That was the reaction from the large tracts of the country in which the young defender is unknown. But Galway manager Liam Sammon knows that he has a jewel in the tough-tackling, highly mobile corner back who helped to keep a tight rein on the Mayo frontline.
It was another consistent display from Bradshaw that not only delighted Sammon but filled him with hope that Galway may be able to shackle the Kerry attack to some extent when the teams meet in the All Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park later today.
With Damien Burke and full-back Finian Hanley — also in fine form, Galway are capable of erecting the shutters although the Kerry attack will be the strongest unit they have encountered since they met them in the League.
Tommy Walsh and Kieran Donaghy along with Colm Cooper and Bryan Sheehan will combine to form an enormous threat to Galway’s ambitions.
The Tribesmen’s physical presence at the back coupled with a steely edge which is now becoming more pronounced — their rearguard has been regarded in the past as having a soft centre- means that they can square up to the Kingdom with confidence.
And while Bradshaw and Co attempt to keep Kerry’s marquee attacking aces in check, Michael Meehan, Pauric Joyce and Matthew Clancy in particular will strive to get the scores up front required to take their team through.
Last year’s county Minor captain Paul Conroy is included for the first time from the start in a Championship match while Mark Lydon comes in at midfield.
It’s a tough test for the latter. He will be up against two of the best midfielders in the sport in Dara O Se and Tommy Griffin and much will depend on how he fares in the aerial duel with the crafty Kingdom duo.
His partner Barry Cullinane tends to be hot and cold but Galway will hope that he can turn up the temperature.
If he does, then the westerners will be in with a real chance of making it into the last four and perhaps collecting ‘Sam’ for the third time in a decade.