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Fired-up Galway aim to push Dublin to the limit

 

By John Campbell

This is certainly not the ideal time of the season in which to be confronted by a chastening wake-up call.

But that's what Galway endured in their 0-16 to 0-8 loss to Monaghan last weekend, and now they must carry at least two salutary lessons absorbed in that contest into today's All-Ireland Football Championship semi-final against four-in-a-row seeking Dublin (5pm).

"Our tackling needs to improve and the amount of turnovers we are conceding must be reduced," insists manager Kevin Walsh.

"Last weekend we were also caught a few times by Monaghan on the counter-attack in the second-half and we'll have to show today that we have rectified that."

If Monaghan caused the Tribesmen problems going forward, then Dublin's high-octane, supercharged sorties from defence will surely test them to the full.

Up until last weekend, Galway's prospects of making it into the All-Ireland final had been rated as good.

But a combination of that below-par offering against Malachy O'Rourke's side and Dublin's awesome strength in depth have served to lengthen the odds on the Tribesmen's hopes of an appearance in the decider.

Defensively, Galway still look reasonably solid.

They leaked one goal in the league and have surrendered just three in the Championship to date. Yet, for all that, they have looked rather more porous of late.

The fact that they have managed to retain the same full-back line during the season, with Declan Kyne and Eoghan Kerin excelling in the corners and Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh holding the middle perhaps holds out the hope that defiance and resolve will prove enduring qualities over the course of what will be the team's biggest contest of the year.

Dean Rock, Cormac Costello and Ciaran Kilkenny in particular are likely to make hay in the Dublin attack, with the very much in-form Brian Fenton proving their source of fodder from midfield.

And at the back, Johnny Cooper, James McCarthy and Philly McMahon are unlikely to offer Walsh's men much scope in terms of unveiling their wares.

Yet in Damien Comer, Shane Walsh and the relatively unsung Eamon Brannagan, Galway have forwards who can live with the best of them - providing they are provided with adequate possession, that is.

This is a trio that will require to be deployed in unleashing their predatory instincts as near as possible to the Dublin posts rather than spending their time tracking back in order to try and alleviate pressure.

And therein lies the real challenge for the men from the west.

Manager Walsh is acutely aware of this, the lesson having been forcibly driven home in the outing against Monaghan.

"Our attacking game was nowhere near like what it should have been in that tie," admits Walsh.

"Those are the things you learn from."

Meanwhile, in the All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship, Down will face Longford at Inniskeen today (1pm) in a vital relegation play-off.

The Mourne side will look to Jessica Foy and Kyla Trainor for inspiration as they bid to retain their status.

In the Junior Championship, Antrim will host Kilkenny at Musgrave Park (2pm), while in another intermediate tie, Fermanagh will face Offaly at Inniskeeen (2.45pm).

Dublin vs Galway

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final

Croke Park, Today, 5pm

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