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Forget last week’s demonstration—the tribe will want cutlery

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It is instructive to note that any fictional 32-county table, an amalgam of the four divisions, would have Galway at the top in first place and Roscommon in third place.

Erry, who set the early pace for Division 2, is statistically the unluckiest team in the country to miss out on promotion despite amassing 11 points.

In a division usually notorious for being overloaded, these three districts quickly split into a split contest, a three-horse race with two winners.

It was that tight.

It’s worth noting that Galway would probably have finished higher (12 points level with Roscommon and Cavan but ahead on points difference) if it hadn’t been for last Sunday.

Longer evenings and the increasing promise of summer mean we’re vulnerable to the odd sham war this time of year. But Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon was a different beast altogether.

Galway and Roscommon are lurking on opposite sides of the Connacht draw this year, so in a league final like their clash at Croke Park this Sunday it might not be particularly wise to hold back.

But it was obvious to everyone in attendance last weekend that Galway, who had secured promotion after a deeply impressive season in Division 2, were playing with no real intention.

“Look, we had to win, it was different for Galway,” admitted Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham of a game in which his team were 11 points clear at half-time.

“We had our backs to the wall until the last game, we had to win and I’m happy with the performance. We definitely treated every game in this league as if it was a KO game, otherwise we wouldn’t have advanced.”

Galway’s work was by then mostly done. And also impressive.

Her final score of 14-99 left her with a cumulative total of 141 points.

Next up was Roscommon at 123.

Despite the defeat, Galway finished with a +41 points difference, again being the most attractive side in each division, albeit just one more than Sligo in Division 4.

Perhaps her most impressive stat, however, was her goal tally: 14 in seven games.

For context, Tipperary and Leitrim were the second highest at 11.

Pádraic Joyce has been blunt about his intention to instill an almost myopic forefoot in the Galway team, whose difficulties were exposed in Division 1 last year.

But Division 2 was the perfect laboratory.

So Galway headed to Hyde last Sunday with nothing tangible to play and therefore without Shane Walsh and Damien Comer or any discernible motivation.

It also meant that Roscommon, the league’s perennial nomads, was the only team across the four divisions not to lose a single game.

How all of this plays into the league finals is open to interpretation, but it’s hard to see why either district would leave the handbrake on.

Before beating Kildare in the 2017 Division 2 final, Galway footballers had not won a game at Croke Park in 16 years.

Walsh, whose virtuoso two-handed performances were so compelling this spring, had played at the venue six times before and lost each time.

There’s never a bad time to develop a winning habit at Croke Park.

Plus, they have three weeks after Sunday to prepare for their annual row with Mayo, so it was unsurprising that Joyce — whatever his intentions last Sunday — saw no reason to hold back next week.

“Absolutely not, they give a good hard physical game and that’s what we need going into the Championship on April 24th. One of our goals this year was to get out of Division 2,” Joyce said.

He’s also unlikely to turn his nose up at early-season cutlery.

DIVISION 2 FINALISTS FACT FILE

Galway

Managing Director: Pádraic Joyce (3rd year)

Captain: Sean Kelly

Top Scorer: Shane Walsh 2-20 (0-13 Frees, 1-0 Penalty, 0-1 Mark)

League record: wins 6 wins 1 loss (12 points)

Average points per game: 20.1

Average goals conceded: 14.3

ROSCOMMON

Manager: Anthony Cunningham (4th year)

Captain: Enda Smith

Top Scorer: Donie Smith 1-26 (0-15f)

League record: W5 U2 (12 points)

Average points per game: 17.6

Average vs: 12.4

League result 2022 – Dr. Hyde Park: Roscommon 1-20 Galway 1-15

https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/forget-last-weeks-showing-the-tribe-will-want-silverware-41501572.html Forget last week’s demonstration—the tribe will want cutlery

Fry Electronics Team

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