Lonesharkoy previews the All Ireland Senior Football qualifier between Galway and Derry and he thinks Derry will be too strong for the Tribesmen.
Galway vs Derry, All Ireland SFC
Neither of these counties are well known for their strong showings in the qualifiers, yet a win here would leave them within seventy minutes of getting back to Croke Park. Indeed with Sligo as a potential opponent in round four, the odds of progression for the winner here are very attractive.
Ostensibly, Galway come into this tie with the better form and with home advantage on their side. However Armagh’s championship outings in 2015 were all quite underwhelming, so the value of their win in the Athletic Grounds might not be as high as all that.
Kevin Walsh has added a streetwise streak to this Galway side, but he has still to get them playing to the standard that we’d expect from a group that’s full to the brim with underage medal winners. Even in the continued absence of Shane Walsh, there are plenty of attacking flair in that forward line – yet so much of the responsibility for creating scores has fallen on the shoulders of under-21 player Damien Comer. Gary Sice is a constant threat while Paul Conroy will kick frees all day, but talented players like Michael Lundy and Peadar Óg Ó’Gríofa have yet to make a real mark on the county scene.
The Tribesmen still possess a more balanced and potent attacking threat than Brian McIver will be able to field in Derry colours, but whatever advantage Galway might enjoy up front is more than negated by Derry’s superior power at the back. The skill of Gary O’Donnell and Gareth Bradshaw as all round footballers cannot be called into question but on more than a few occasions they’ve played plenty of good attacking football at one end, while allowing their direct opponents to do likewise at the other end of the field. It makes for good viewing, but not good results.
Liam Silke has the makings of an outstanding defender while Finian Hanley remains an elite full back, but otherwise Galway are patchy at the back and need plenty of cover – Derry are nowhere near as soft.
Midfield will be a fascinating battle where the experience of Fergal Doherty might give Derry a slight edge also. Tom Flynn and Fiontán Ó’Curraoín are promising up and coming players but as a general rule, midfielders don’t really peak until they hit their mid-twenties, and while Galway are well equipped for the long run here, Derry may still have the edge in this sector on Saturday, as we expect they will have overall.
2 points win Derry +1pt at evens with Skybet and Betfair Sports