Galway aiming to win first Division One league title since 1981

Tribesmen advance to the final boasting the best defence in the division

Seán Kelly hopes Galway can continue to defend their patch with resolve as they pursue a first Division One league title in 42 years.

Galway will face Mayo in the league decider at Croke Park on Sunday at 4pm, with the Tribesmen trying to bridge a gap spanning four decades. They last appeared in a Division One final in 2018, when they lost to Dublin.

And while much has been made of returning forwards such as Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Rob Finnerty, Galway’s march to this final has been built on the best defence in the top flight.

Galway conceded just three goals across their seven games and finished with a total concession of 81 points, with Roscommon next best on 92 points. Mayo conceded a total of 102 points. In last Sunday’s clash with Kerry, Galway limited the Kingdom’s attack to 14 points.


“We’ve been really solid defensively all year and it’s something we’ve really kind of set our targets on and it’s something very positive and something we can build on in the championship,” says Kelly, who more than anybody has been central to Galway’s defensive solidity,

“Holding them to seven points a half was very good, and hopefully it’s something that can continue for the year.”

Kelly has been excellent throughout the league campaign and it was a fine achievement by the Galway captain to hold David Clifford scoreless from play during Sunday’s game at Pearse Stadium.

“He’s an incredible player, but it’s really a team effort from the full-forward line out the field to the half-forward line putting kick-passes in, and obviously having their backs tied to other players like John Daly is a plus there, and I can’t take any credit for that,” says Kelly.

“It’s been a real team effort to stop a player like that, there were maybe a couple of soft frees we can work on but it was a great team effort and something we’ve been trying to do all year and we’ve kind of succeeded, so hopefully we can keep it going.”

And he hopes the team can now take the next step in their development by claiming a national title.

“Pádraic [Joyce] said it from the start, it’s been 40 years now or something, so that’s a long time for a county like Galway,” adds Kelly.

“We are trying to give something for the supporters to cheer about, it was a great turnout from them against Kerry and they were loud all day, so we are giving them something to cheer for.

“Hopefully they will come and support us in the final and we can get over the line and get some silverware.

“I’s [Croke Park] where all of us want to play. It will be a tough battle and hopefully we can get some silverware and build on it then to enter the championship with that positive mindset.

“We are trying to build a strong panel and obviously when we get positive results in the league it’s even better, so fair play to the lads and hopefully we can keep doing that.”

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times