SUNDAY 19 MAY

Sligo v Galway, Markievicz Park, 3.30pm 

Online
Live blogs on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now app from 2.45pm on Sunday.

Radio 
Live updates on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 from John Kenny. 

TV
Highlights of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 Television and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.

Weather
Sunday will be a day of bright or sunny spells and occasional showers, some heavy in the afternoon. Top temperatures of 13 to 17 C. Moderate northwesterly breezes will be fresh in some western coastal areas. For more go to met.ie 

Heightened expectations

2018 was a year when Galway footballers made significant strides, with appearances in a Division 1 league final and All-Ireland semi-final testament to that. And while they comfortably maintained their top-flight status in the spring, fans in the county will no doubt expect them to match and surpass last summer's championship run.

The question is are they good enough to reach an All-Ireland final? Indeed are they good enough to retain Connacht? Achieving the latter would would see them achieve a first back-to-back since 2002-03.

And while much has been made of Galway's defensive solidity in recent seasons, they were less than assured against Tyrone in their final league game and at times against London a fortnight ago. To that end, it is no surprise that Corofin's Kieran Molloy - AIB Club Player of the Year - is restored to the side.

Speaking on the night he received the award, Molloy, with one eye on summer combat said: "It's a big summer for Galway and I feel we can achieve big things." 

Kieran Molloy

We'll wait to see how big those things might be. 

Earlier this week, Galway defender Gary O'Donnell, not named in the starting side to face Sligo, told RTÉ Sport about the the level that is now expected from the squad.

"Expectations are always high in Galway, in that if you don't perform well and don't get the right result, people won't be long in telling you.

"That's fair enough, we have a big tradition. We have nine All-Irelands, we need to perform.

"At the same time we are our own harshest critics. We know what we have to do."

"We are in our fifth year with Kevin. Every year has seen some improvement and last year we got to an All-Ireland semi-final and league final. We have to try and make the next step."

The only way is up for the Yeats County

Paul Taylor in the Sligo colours

With a points difference of -48, Sligo certainly endured some testing times during the league as they tumbled out of Division 3 with not a point to their name.

A real baptism of fire then for manager Paul Taylor in his first year at the helm. The Eastern Harps clubman is also a Fianna Fail councillor and again will be putting his name before the people on Friday next.

Despite the retirements of Charlie Harrison and Ross Donovan and losing the talented Red Óg Murphy to Aussie Rules, Taylor is accentuating the positives amid all the negative results and is confident Sligo football will turn a corner. He blooded 12 debutants during the league and only Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch, Adrian McIntyre, Patrick O'Connor, Adrian Marren and Niall Murphy remain from the side that started against Galway last June.

Of course, Sunday marks the re-opening of Markievicz Park after work on the playing surface, with the home supporters dreaming of a similar result to the 2010 Connacht semi-final when Sligo, then managed by Kevin Walsh, edged past the Tribesemen in a thrilling replay clash. 

Team news

The home side have made 10 changes from the XV that played Galway at the same stage last year.

Goalkeeper Aidan Devaney is among those out of the team after picking up an injury. 

Bernard Power, Kieran Molloy, Gareth Bradshaw and Fiontán Ó’Curraoin come into the Galway side following their win over London.

Sligo: Eamonn Kilgannon, Michael Gordon, Peter Laffey, Keelan Cawley, Gerard O’Kelly Lynch, Darragh Cummins, Paul McNamara, Adrian McIntyre, Paul Kilcoyne, Mikey Gordon, Sean Carrabine, Nathan Mullen, Paddy O’Connor, Adrian Marren, Niall Murphy

Galway: Bernard Power, Eoghan Kerin, Seán Andy Ó’Ceallaigh, Liam Silke, Kieran Molloy, Gareth Bradshaw, John Daly, Thomas Flynn, Fiontán Ó’Curraoin, Shane Walsh, Michael Daly, Johnny Heaney, Antaine Ó’Laoí. Ian Burke, Danny Cummins.

Referee: Ciaran Brannigan (Down)

LAST 5 CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS

2018: Galway 4-24 Sligo 1-12 (Connacht semi-final)
2014 Galway 0-16 Sligo 0-11 (Connacht semi-final)
2012 Sligo 2-14 Galway 0-15 (Connacht semi-final)
2010 Sligo 1-14 Galway 0-16 (Connacht semi-final replay)
2010 Sligo 1-10 Galway 1-10 (Connacht semi-final)