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Tally to the fore as fired-up Galway reign over the Kingdom

 

By John Campbell

When Tyrone won the first of their three All-Ireland titles to date in 2003, Paddy Tally was the man charged with having the side in superb physical condition.

Yesterday Tally was back at Croke Park but wearing a rather different hat. The Galbally man has been credited with adding the key elements of steel and hunger that clearly consume the current Galway side and seldom were these twin attributes more to the fore than in the team's stunning 1-13 to 1-10 All-Ireland quarter-final phase one win over Kerry.

Tally was very much part of a historic occasion when the Red Hands made their breakthrough 15 years ago, but yesterday again saw him play a part in what was a momentous occasion for the Tribesmen who had not beaten Galway in a championship match since 1965.

While Galway charted an impressive course through the league, doubts still persisted that they might emerge as a championship force even to the extent that their victory over Roscommon in the Connacht final (0-16 to 2-6) gained them little additional credence.

But yesterday at a dark and dismal Croke Park, this Galway side provided their own form of illumination by halting Kerry in their stride and pocketing a victory that could prove crucial to their prospects of making it through to the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Tally's imprimatur on this Galway team has become clearly visible with the passage of time as of course is the tactical nous of manager Kevin Walsh, himself a former All-Ireland winner with the county as a midfield ace of considerable stature.

Yesterday, in a game that was level eight times in a 55-minute spell, Galway eloquently underlined that they have the character and courage to face the biggest tests - and that's even with losing the vastly-experienced Paul Conroy who sustained a broken leg at a crucial stage of the tie, an injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season.

But with Shane Walsh and Damien Comer on fire in their attack, a defence that yielded little although nonetheless incurring problems when confronted by David Clifford's wizardry and a lively contribution from their bench Galway showed they have the means and the muscle to march onwards.

Walsh landed five points in all, Comer was much too hot to handle at times and with Adrian Varley bouncing into the action to land two points Galway were simply unstoppable in the closing phase of play in particular - and that's when it matters most, after all.

They may have had to wait until the 74th minute until another substitute Patrick Sweeney, pilfered their goal but by then they had already won the mind games against a side that had been their nemesis for so long.

Clifford's 1-5 for the losers provided further evidence - as if it were needed - that this precociously talented young forward is due for a lengthy tenure in the Kingdom attack while Stephen O'Brien, Paul Geaney and James O'Donoghue all had their moments.

But with Kildare and Monaghan now on their Super 8s menu, Galway - and the wily Paddy Tally in particular - will know for sure that their fate is in their own hands.

Belfast Telegraph

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