No tinkering for Sligo boss Walsh ahead of Galway showdown

SLIGO boss Kevin Walsh has named an unchanged side for Sunday’s Connacht SFC semi-final against Galway in Pearse Stadium.

Walsh has opted to keep faith with the side that claimed a famous quarter-final victory over Mayo earlier this month in Markievicz Park by four points, and he insists his team have a tough challenge ahead of them.

“We are meeting one of the top teams in the country and there is no guarantee we are going to get over the line.

“But all you can do is give it your best shot and be in the right frame of mind. These are the challenges you have to meet head on, get used to meeting and be able to perform in. You can’t live off good performances, or good defeats as I call them. That was one of focuses on last year.

“That is what we wanted to do this year, put last year behind us and take lessons from it, learn and go further. Maybe get over the line against the so-called better teams. Maybe by doing that against Mayo was a step forward.

“Now we have to put two big performances back-to-back and, away from home, which is going to be twice as difficult to get over the line.

“I’m sure Joe Kernan isn’t just looking at a Connacht title this year, definitely an All-Ireland quarter-final or All-Ireland semi-final at least. Galway have won two All-Ireland U21 titles in the noughties and they’ve also won an All-Ireland Minor title a few years ago.

“When you’ve got that sort of talent at your disposal and you get it right at senior level then you can’t be that far away. We are under no illusions about the challenge facing us, they’ve also a great record at Pearse Stadium.”

Kernan has kept Galway attackers Nicky Joyce and Micheal Meehan in reserve for Sunday’s game. Joyce is suffering from a knee injury, while team captain Meehan has recovered from the medial knee ligament injury sustained in the league clash against Kerry in March, but is also named amongst the substitutes for the Pearse Stadium showdown.

In all Kernan has made five changes in personnel from the team scraped to victory over New York in the first round at the start of May, with three players – Gareth Bradshaw, Paul Conroy and Sean Armstrong all returning to the starting XV having been absent for the trip Stateside due to exam commitments.

Bradshaw comes in at right half-back for Declan Meehan, while another change in the half-back line sees Diarmuid Blake come in at centre-back and Gary O’Donnell move to left half-back as groin injury victim Diarmuid Burke has to take a place on the bench.

At midfield Conroy replaces Barry Cullinane who fails to make the panel for this game, while in the half-forward Armstrong starts at centre-forward, Gary Sice moves to the wing and Fiachra Breathnach drops to the bench.

The final change comes in the full-forward line with Matthew Clancy replacing the injured Nicky Joyce.

SLIGO SF: P Greene; C Harrison, N McGuire, R Donovan; K Cawley, B Phillips, J Davey; T Taylor, S Gilmartin; M Breheny, A Costello, E O’Hara; C McGee, K Sweeney, D Kelly.

GALWAY SF: A Faherty; K Fitzgerald, F Hanley, A Burke; G Bradshaw, D Blake, G O’Donnell; P Conroy, N Coleman; G Sice, S Armstrong, J Bergin; E Concannon, P Joyce, M Clancy.

Subs: E Conghaile, D O’Neill, D Reilly, C Healy, F Breathnach, D Mullahy, D Meehan, M Meehan, D Cummins, T Fahy, C Bane, C de Paor, M Martin, D Burke, N Joyce

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