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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 21 February, 2019

Galway heading to Super 8s, Shane Walsh shows his class and Roscommon rue missed chances

5 talking points after Galway defeated Roscommon by four points to lift the Connacht crown.

Damien Comer celebrates after the game with the trophy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

1. Galway revenge for 2017

GALWAY ARRIVED INTO last year’s Connacht final as warm favourites after accounting for Mayo earlier in the competition, but they were stunned by a clinical Roscommon side and fell by nine points in Salthill.

After a fine league campaign where they secured their first victory at Croke Park since 2001 and lifted the Division 2 title, the Tribesmen looked to be on an upward trajectory before Roscommon derailed their summer.

Today’s win over the same opposition in another dogfight of a game will please Kevin Walsh and his players. The victory also put them level with Mayo on top of the Connacht SFC roll of honour with 46 titles each.

2. Roscommon wasteful in the second-half

Roscommon went in at the interval leading by 1-5 to 0-5 and controlling the game to a large extent despite playing against the breeze. They held possession for 12 minutes during the opening period and were able to penetrate holes in the Galway defence with good lines of running and support play.

The Galway backs stood off their men but that changed after half-time when their tackling improved significantly. Thomas Flynn began to rule the skies from kick-outs and his team-mates were alive to the breaking ball.

The injury to Roscommon midfielder Cathal Compton five minutes before the interval helped Galway no end, while the hosts were left to rue eight wides in the second-half where they didn’t manage a score from play.

Galway outscored the Rossies by 0-11 to 1-1 after the break, including six unanswered during a key stage at the middle of the second-half.

Rory Lavelle and Diarmuid Murtagh Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

3. Shane Walsh’s brilliant performance

Shane Walsh has often been criticised for not being clinical enough in front of goal but the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man scored eight points from 10 shots this afternoon.

He dropped one into the goalkeeper’s hands in the opening half and hit a wide from play in the second, but otherwise Walsh was flawless in front of goal.

On an afternoon when regular free-taker Barry McHugh missed both his placed balls, Walsh nailed five from five frees off his left foot. His accuracy was a big factor in the Galway victory.

4. First team to make Super 8s

Galway become the first side to make the Super 8s, with provincial champions from Leinster, Ulster and Munster to join them next weekend.

Galway will be joined by the winners of Cork vs Kerry, as well as the runners-up in Ulster and Leinster or the side that beats them in Round 4 of the qualifiers.

Having made the All-Ireland quarter-final last summer, reaching the Super 8s will have been their minimum aim for 2018. With a Connacht crown under the belt, Kevin Walsh’s outfit have three weeks to recuperate before they face a heavy schedule of games in the last eight.

Enda Smith with Thomas Flynn Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

5. Roscommon must regroup ahead of qualifiers

Kevin McStay’s team need just win one more game to make the Super 8s, so their season is still very much alive.

They’ll learn a lot from this outing against a steely Galway outfit and, depending on the draw, you’d expect Roscommon to make it to the last eight next month.

A flurry of wides shortly after half-time seemed to suck the life out of the Roscommon attack and even Conor Devaney’s brilliant penalty in the 63rd minute failed to spark his team-mates into life.

Roscommon will have a few weeks off before they return to action in Round 4 of the backdoor and by that stage this defeat should be well and truly out of their system.

Galway crowned kings of Connacht as strong second-half leads them past Roscommon

Venue for Munster final to be announced tomorrow for Clare-Cork rematch

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Kevin O'Brien

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