And then there were six: what’s left to play for in the Super 8s
After wins over Kerry and Kildare, Galway need to beat Monaghan on Saturday week
Galway forward Shane Walsh: “We’ve a young team and a lot of lads there that are going to be brave, that are going to take shots on.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
And then there were six. Or rather six teams with at least something left to play for across the final four games of the football Super 8s – and to ultimately decide only two All-Ireland semi-final pairings.
Good thing they have a weekend off to recharge, says Galway forward Shane Walsh, his team already through to the semi-finals from Group One. They’ll still want to beat Monaghan in Pearse Stadium on Saturday week to stay atop that group and avoid the winners of Group Two, likely to be All-Ireland champions Dublin, into the semi-finals for a ninth successive year.
Dublin will host Roscommon in Croke Park on the Sunday – a Roscommon team already out after two losses from two. Beyond being concrete favourites Dublin will also want to top that group and extend an unbeaten championship run which goes back to the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Donegal.
“They’re after being two tough weeks,” says Walsh, who scored 0-4 and took his championship tally to 0-25 in Galway’s three-point win over Kildare on Sunday. “That’s what the Super 8s were about, testing your squad, and it was great to get another test against Kildare, and now the weekend off to see how the bodies are and reassess, and give the whole squad a chance to recharge.
“Two wins out of two, it’s been great for us going forward, that we’re winning these games. We came into the Super 8s thinking take out our first game, then our second game, and now it’s back down to training and looking forward to Monaghan in two weeks’ time. We’ll see where we’re against after that.”
Assuming Dublin and Galway both win, Galway will be against either Tyrone or Donegal, the runners-up in Group Two. They also meet on the Sunday in Ballybofey, where Donegal have gone 21 games unbeaten in league and championship since the 2010 Ulster quarter-final, when Down beat them after extra-time. A draw would be enough for Tyrone, who have a far superior scoring difference to Donegal (+15 versus +2); however, two teams level on points are decided firstly on the head-the-head, which means Donegal would progress.
Galway effectively did Kerry a favour by beating Kildare on Sunday, ending their Super 8 interests in the process. Kerry’s late draw against Monaghan now gives them plenty to play for against Kildare, but they will need to swing a five-point scoring difference currently in Monaghan’s favour, unless Monaghan can either draw with or beat Galway, giving them a first semi-final since 1988.
It was already decided the final group games would throw-in simultaneously at 6pm on Saturday week, August 4th (Galway against Monaghan at Pearse Stadium and Kerry against Kildare at Fitzgerald Stadium), both those games broadcast on Sky Sports only; the games on Sunday August 5th (Donegal against Tyrone at Ballybofey and Dublin against Roscommon at Croke Park) both throw-in at 3.30pm, and will be shown on RTÉ.
You know what to expect from Monaghan, they’re seasoned campaigners. They’ve been around the block the last couple of years
For Walsh one of the most pleasing facets of Galway’s progress to date has been their scoring rate. Galway had eight different scorers in the three-point win over Kerry the previous week, and extended that to 13 against Kildare in Newbridge on Sunday – everyone from number five to number 15, plus two replacements, Sean Armstrong and Gary O’Donnell.
Footballer of the month
“It’s a sign of the team,” said the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man, who last week was also named GAA/GPA footballer of the month for June. “We’ve a young team and a lot of lads there that are going to be brave, that are going to take shots on. You saw the likes of Sean Kelly, Peter Cooke, Johnny Heaney, Eamonn Brannigan.
“Everyone’s well able to get scores. We were probably wasting them at times as well, but we showed the scoring ability of the team and the strength in depth of the squad.
“We knew coming to Newbridge what the game was going to be like, how Kildare brought Mayo to Newbridge and turned them over, so we fully expected an absolute battle, and Kildare fully delivered on it. We kept digging in, we just got scores at critical times. We might have a game off but we certainly don’t have training off, we’ll be knuckling down this week.”
Galway’s meeting with Monaghan in the league last March was tight, Galway prevailing by four points, after Monaghan lost Fintan Kelly just before half-time. “You know what to expect from Monaghan, they’re seasoned campaigners. They’ve been around the block the last couple of years, so we know fully what to expect in two weeks’ time,” said Walsh.
In the event of teams finishing on equal points, groups shall be decided by the following means and in the order specified: (i) Where two teams only are involved – the outcome of the meeting of the two teams in the group; (ii) score difference; (iii) highest total score for; (iv) highest total goals for; (v) a play-off. The semi-finals will be played on the following weekend, August 11th and 12th, the order confirmed once the pairings are known.