Former Galway great Pádraic Joyce has warned that the Tribesman will have a job on their hands to oversee a greatly improved Tipperary side in their round 4A qualifier on Saturday.
“You wouldn’t really normally classify it as a do-or-die battle,” Joyce told RTÉ Sport, “but the progress Tipperary have made in the football since they won the minor championship a couple of years ago has been astonishing.
“This year, they’ve been really in good form, in fairness to them, and probably should have beaten Cork in the Munster semi-final.
“They’re coming with a group of players that look like they’re going to break the line some time in Munster, and probably hit up an All-Ireland series.”
“Galway –Tipperary over the years wouldn’t have caused too much trouble for Galway, but the fact that Tipperary have improved, and Galway haven’t really hit the high levels in the last few years, makes the game kind of 50-50 on Saturday.”
Although he ultimately tipped Galway “to get over the line, just about”, Joyce said questions would be asked of Galway boss Alan Mulholland if the Westerners should exit the championship on Saturday.
“When Alan Mulholland took over the set-up in Galway, he had to get the job at the time; he had unrivalled underage success with Galway, an Under-21 title and a minor title.
"And then obviously he had to get rid of the older fellas like myself... it wasn’t easy for him to him to do... he has the players now involved that he wants involved.”
Joyce said that Mulholland had been planning for the longer term, when younger players were developed, and suggested that it was now time for these players to follow through on this.
“Alan has what he has in the county, and what he wants, and if he doesn’t succeed on Saturday evening, questions will be [asked].”
Joyce said it was difficult to gauge where Galway were at on the basis of their championship results this year.
“While Galway lost the Connacht final, it would have been seen as progress to get to the Connacht final, because they have been there in a couple of years. [But then,] the performance on the day, obviously, in Mayo, left a lot of work to be done.”
Joyce described the goals Galway conceded that day as “underage concession” and said that they had failed to deal with a predictably strong Mayo half-back line.
He did identify some positives from the game, citing the 16 points they scored, but suggested that Galway had failed to move with the times in adopting or dealing with the advent of the blanket defence.
“We’re grand going forward, but we don’t seem to cover the lines going back. We left our full-back line a little bit exposed in Mayo. We’re not a million miles away from being a decent team, as such, but we have a few bits to cover.”