"That bit of a fracas nearly woke us back up again" - McDaid never doubted his boys in the shoot-out 1 month ago

"That bit of a fracas nearly woke us back up again" - McDaid never doubted his boys in the shoot-out

Galway 2-21 Armagh 3-18 (Galway win 4-1 on penalties)

Cillian McDaid was delighted, he tells us with a laugh, that the penalty shoot-out didn't go down to the last one.

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We're chatting in the bowels of the Hogan Stand, after one of the most exciting Gaelic football games of all-time, and the Monivea Abbey man has a smile as wide as the Atlantic.

And it's very easy to see why. Galway are through to the All-Ireland semi-finals and, after running Armagh into the ground, he was the man-of-the-match. He scored the goal that, just when the Orchard were getting away from them, dragged Galway back into the game and then when they were in it, with both teams crying out for inspiration, he was the man that stepped up again with the point of the day.

There was still plenty of work to do, and a penalty shoot-out was the only thing that could separate them for a finish but McDaid tells us just now that he had faith in his boys to get the job done.

"It was tough to watch now. But look, we're confident.

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"Conor Gleeson is one of the best shot-stoppers around and that's shown in training. We don't get past him too many times in training so that has given our penalty takers great practice over the last couple of months," McDaid said about his keeper, who had two hairy moments during the game that led to Armagh goals.

"So yeah, we just backed our forwards too. I think Kieran Molloy was down to take the last one too, so thanks be to God it didn't go to the last one haha!"

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Damien Comer kicked the first point of the game but it was Armagh, you'd have to say, who got off to the better start. They responded, much to the delight of the mostly-orange crowd, with three off the bat. It was their talisman Rian O'Neill who settled them into and he was followed over the bar by Jason Duffy and Stefan Campbell. Campbell's was a beautifully taken score, put away in that nonchalant style of his and it sent the Armagh crowd wild.

If you looked around, you could see that they out-numbered the Galwegians by, roughly, about three to one but at that moment it felt more like seven to one. And for a while after, as their attacks slowed and their rhythm deserted them, Padraic Joyce must have been worried that his team had stayed on the bus.

The sticky James Morgan was doing what it says on the tin. He didn't give Shane Walsh time to think or space to move and, with their talisman on the periphery, Galway were second best. It presented a them with a test that, in the past, may have led to the flood-gates opening but that was then and this is now.

They've battened down the hatches since throwing away that League final to Roscommon and that was how, after a few nervy moments, they eventually seized the momentum in this game. And just like the last day in Connacht, Robert Finnerty was the man that turned the tide.

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The Salthill Knocknacarra club-man is cooler than the Salthill sea on a winter's day. He breezes onto the play like a man that's playing in his back garden and, fast forward an hour and a half, as he strolled up to his penalty in the shoot-out, you could see it in him that he was never going to miss.

Galway never did miss and that's how, after all that, they finally shook off Armagh for a finish.

It was madness really that it all came down to a penalty shoot-out but then again madness was exactly what the whole thing was.

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"We switched off towards the end of full-time, and that was why we conceded the two goals," McDaid says.

"So that bit of a fracas, that nearly woke us back up again and made us realise 'hey, we're still in a big game here, there's nothing lost now so that's why we were calm in there, it was clean sheets again, 0-0."

As for his goal, he paid tribute to Billy Mannion who, on his championship debut, broke through to set him up.

"Billy was on his championship debut, so that's a testament to the training and the panel that someone can make their debut in extra-time of an All-Ireland quarter final and assist for a goal."

Derry are up next and, after one of the longest days of his life, McDaid is buzzing for one more.

"We're back here now Saturday week. We'll be back training Tuesday and the show will go on. This is why we've been training, for days like this, so it's great.

Galway

Connor Gleeson; Liam Silke, Seán Kelly, Jack Glynn; Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Kieran Molloy; Paul Conroy (0-1), Cillian McDaid (1-2); Patrick Kelly (0-1), Matthew Tierney (0-2), Johnny Heaney (1-0); Rob Finnerty (0-4), Damien Comer (0-2), Shane Walsh (0-6, 0-5f)

Subs: Finian Ó Laoi (0-1) for Cillian McDaid (50, blood-sub), O'Laoi for Tierney (63, blood-sub), Ó Laoi for Patrick Kelly (69), Niall Daly for Finnerty (70), Owen Gallagher for Johnny Heaney (82)

Armagh

Ethan Rafferty; James Morgan, Aidan Forker, Conor O'Neill (0-1); Aaron McKay, Greg McCabe, Jarly Og Burns (0-1); Stephen Sheridan, Ben Crealey; Rory Grugan (1-3, 0-2f), Stefan Campbell (0-3), Andrew Murnin; Aidan Nugent (1-2, 0-1), Rian O'Neill (0-2, 0-1f), Jason Duffy (1-1)

Subs: Connaire Mackin for Sheridan (40), Conor Turbitt (0-1) for Andrew Murnin (44), Ciaran Mackin for Aaron McKay (55), Eoin Woods (0-1) for Duffy (68), Justin Kieran for Burns (68), Mark Shields for Aidan Forker (74, et), Jemar Hall for Rory Grugan (84), Jason Duffy for Crealey (85)