Can Derry lift the Curse of the Tribe?
Derry and Galway arrive at the semi-final stages of the All Ireland SFC as respective Ulster and Connacht champions but it’s an unusual pairing.
The Oakleafers have met Galway on just four occasions in the Championship with the previous three in 1998, 2001 and 2015.
The Tribesmen have held the upper hand on Derry in all three of those top level championship clashes, winning by six, three and five points respectively.
It’s a dominance which perhaps stemmed from 1995 when the Oak Leaf Minors snatched a late, one point victory over their Galwegian counterparts in an All Ireland semi-final thanks to a last gasp goal from Enda Muldoon.
That Galway minor team must have taken their semi-final defeat badly because they’ve yet to lose one against Derry since.
The five point drubbing Derry suffered at the hands of the Tribesmen was inevitable even at half-time and then the 2001 meeting was worse again as the Oak Leaf county appeared to have one foot in their third All Ireland final but with 10 minutes to go the whole thing inexplicably collapsed in a three point defeat.
A third championship meeting arrived in 2015 as the teams met in a round three qualifier with Galway winning seven successive soft frees in the opening half to
provide a platform for victory.
With the two teams playing Division Two football this year, Saturday’s clash is a semi-final few would’ve predicted but Derry, despite seeing off reigning All Ireland champions Tyrone in Ulster and dismantling Clare 5-13 to 2-08 in the quarterfinals, Derry fans will be all too aware of that curse of the
Tribe in the championship and that Allianz League Division Two 11 points reverse last March will be fresh in the memory.
So could this be the year a Derry team finds a way to break the affliction, break the curse and end the wait for that elusive championship victory over Galway?
Derry’s high level of fitness has been a major factor in their remarkable progress this year.
They outstayed Donegal in extra time, they were fitter than both Tyrone and Monaghan.
Against Clare they going as fast at the finish as they were at the start. Towards the end of the Armagh game a few Galway players were puffing heavily but then they were in a more intense game that Derry.
In a tight finish Derry’s conditioning could be worth a point or even two!