By Oisín Bradley
As the regular hallmarks of summer come into clearer effect and plans for a return to normal life post Covid-19 pandemic seem all the clearer, the sense of optimism in gaelic games circles has been sharpened in recent weeks by the prospect of a return to competitive action.
The GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association have begun to release their plans for the commencement and format of the inter-county calendars, with dates given and targets set for all of the Galway senior sides following the finalisations from GAA HQ. Here, we’ll give you the low-down of all of the fixtures revealed for the four sides.
Galway Mens’ Gaelic Football:
For Pádraic Joyce and the Galway Mens’ footballers, it appears that the Allianz League Division One will be taking on more of a condensed format to that in years previous. The campaign will be run in two regional-style conferences, with sides from the North and South of the country divided into groups of four. The winner of each group will go into the final. The Tribesmen face a daunting first task, with the arduous prospect of a trip to Killarney to take on reigning League champions Kerry.
Roscommon follow a week later in Pearse Stadium, before the reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin make the trip to Tuam for the last of the regular League fixtures. From there, it’s out of the frying pan and straight into the fire, with a trip to face near-neighbours the Rossies in the Championship semi-final.
Championship clashes between these two in recent campaigns can only be described as unpredictable, and although the other big side in the province, Mayo made light work of the men in yellow last season, that by no means makes them an easy opponent this time out.
15/5: Kerry vs Galway
23/5: Galway vs Roscommon
30/5: Galway vs Dublin
TBC: Roscommon vs Galway
Galways’s camogie stars will be out for blood this season, having relinquished their grip on their All-Ireland crown at the last hurdle in the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny. That said, it will certainly not be easy, with plenty waiting in the wings and looking to cause an upset.
The Littlewoods Ireland Division One Camogie League will be first and foremost, with three regionalized groups of three the format for the 2021 campaign following the cancellation of the competition last year.
Galway will kick-start their season on home turf against Clare, before making the trip down the M18 to take on their Limerick counterparts a fortnight later. From there, the best two first-placed teams advance straight to the last four, with the other and the three second-placed teams playing two quarter-finals.
As of yet, there has been no indication from the Camogie Association on how they plan to run off the 2021 Liberty Insurance Camogie Championship, whether be in the tried and tested group format or something else. The date for the start of the Championship is still not known. However, one thing is clear: Cathal Murray’s charges will have their sights clearly set on redemption.
Littlewoods Ireland League:
15/5: Galway vs Clare
29/5: Limerick vs Galway
Galway Ladies’ Football:
Gerry Fahy will have an enormous job in his debut campaign as Galway manager along with the likes of Donegal, Mayo, and Cork if they are to usurp the stranglehold on Ladies’ Football. The girls in maroon have made steady progress in the last few years, and will have an even greater burning passion to return to the same stage as last season where they were so unfairly wronged.
As with the other two codes, a regional league format is being brought in, with Westmeath, Mayo and Donegal making up this side of the draw. First up is a trip to face local rivals Mayo, before hosting Westmeath on home turf seven days later. Finally, it will be Donegal making the trip to the banks of the Corrib to take on the women in maroon on June 6th, before the knockout rounds of the League.
It is as of yet unclear as to what format the LGFA will adopt for the Championship, but if a provincial system is to be implemented, then provincial honours must be the goal. Mayo will be likely to provide a stern test on that front, given the re-introduction of some of the Carnacon girls back into the fold.
If this is not the case, and the group stage-style format is adopted by the association, then at the very least a return to the semi-finals should be the objective. The magic is certainly in the boots of these footballers, and last season proved that, on their day, any of the sides in the chasing pack can put it up to the Dubs.
23/5: Mayo vs Galway
30/5: Galway vs Westmeath
6/6: Galway vs Donegal
There is certainly a modicum of room for improvement for the hurlers this season. The Tribesmen can be content with making it as far as the All-Ireland semi-final last season, having proved that they can mix it with the best in the country given narrow defeats to both Kilkenny in the provincial decider and eventual All-Ireland winners Limerick.
They have proven themselves and integrated fresh talent from the club scene into their ranks last season, with the likes of shot-stopper Éanna Murphy settling well. However, they will need to find another level and elevate themselves if they are to right the wrongs of last season and bring Liam MacCarthy back to the City of the Tribes.
The Allianz Hurling League will be ran off in the same pattern as old, with what looks a fairly simple task to kick-start the campaign for Shane O’Neill and his men. Galway travel to Mullingar to take on Westmeath this weekend, with throw-in at 2pm. After that, it’s the turn of Limerick to visit Galway in a repeat of the host’s last Championship outing. Then, it’s a trip to Thurles to take on Tipperary, before rounding off the campaign with clashes against Waterford and Cork.
Whoever emerges from the Leinster Senior Hurling quarter-final between Dublin and Antrim will be looking to upset the apple-cart in the semi-finals, where Galway will be looking to hit the ground running. By the looks of things, it will be either Cody’s Kilkenny or Davy’s Wexford who await in the decider, with Galway out to claim the crown for the first time since 2018.
8/5 Westmeath vs Galway
16/5 Galway vs Limerick
22/5 Tipperary vs Galway
6/6 Galway vs Waterford
13/6 Cork vs Galway
TBC Dublin/Antrim vs Galway