Can Derry lift the tribe’s curse?

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Derry and Galway come to the All Ireland SFC semi-finals as champions of Ulster and Connacht respectively, but they are an unusual pairing. Derry’s Joe Brolly in action during the Oak Leafers Championship Semi-Final against Galway in 1998.

The Oakleafers have only met Galway four times in the Championship with the previous three in 1998, 2001 and 2015.

The Tribesmen got the better of Derry in all three of those top-flight Championship clashes, taking six, three and five points respectively.

It’s a dominance that perhaps stems from 1995 when the Oak Leaf Minors secured a late one-point victory over their Galwegian counterparts in an All Ireland semi-final thanks to a late goal from Enda Muldoon.

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This minor side from Galway must have taken their semi-final defeat badly as they have yet to lose one to Derry since.

The five-point beating Derry suffered at the hands of the tribesmen was inevitable even at half-time, then the 2001 encounter was even worse as Oak Leaf County looked to have one foot in their third final All Ireland but with 10 minutes to go the whole thing inexplicably collapsed in a three point loss.

A third league meeting came in 2015 as the sides met in a third qualifying round, with Galway winning seven successive free kicks in the first half to

provide a platform for victory.

With both teams playing Division 2 football this year, Saturday’s clash is a semi-final that few would have predicted but Derry, despite seeing off reigning All-Ireland champions Tyrone in Ulster and dismantling Clare 5 -13 to 2-08 in the quarter-finals, Derry fans will be all too aware of this curse of the

Tribe in the Championship and that 11-point Allianz League Division Two loss last March will be fresh in the memory.

So could this be the year a Derry side finds a way to break the affliction, break the curse and end the wait for that elusive Championship win over Galway?

Derry’s high level of fitness has been a major factor in their remarkable progress this year.

They overtook Donegal in extra time, they were in better form than Tyrone and Monaghan.

Against Clare, they go as fast at the finish as they were at the start. Towards the end of the Armagh match, a few Galway players were huffing heavily, but by then they were in for a more intense game than Derry.

In a tight finish, Derry’s conditioning could be worth a point or even two!

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