A few thoughts on the Galway game after watching it back again

First of all I thought we fought very well to get back into the game in the first half.

Someone said to me at half-time that it was now ours to lose especially with the strong breeze at our backs coming up. In my heart I felt this as well but at the same time having seen enough football through the years I responded that sometimes teams played better into the wind than with it. 

And of course this is what happened on Sunday, with our lads unable to find the required composure to shoot from distance and Galway getting nearly all the scores in the second half into the breeze, albeit mostly on the break.

A few other things stood out. Shane Walsh was quiet from play overall but his 45s and free kicks from the ground into the wind in the second half were instrumental in the resulting win for Galway.

As someone said on The Sunday Game, these were “clutch” kicks that all came off for Walsh. There was one of these of particular note I felt – the one that came off the post and went over.

Normally when a free from distance like that hits a post it either bounces back into play or goes wide. It’s rare when it goes over and once I saw it happen, I felt it as a sign that this was going to be Galway’s day. And of course on the other hand for us, Cillian had a 45 with the wind that went wide and also a free that also tailed left. 

And yet we still only lost by a point. But in truth it would have been robbery if we had beaten them with that second half performance. Even though they fell over the line we could not produce enough in the second half to justify a result in that game. Certainly, the loss of Oisín Mullin severely restricted our pace and punch through the lines. And this was really required to try and break that stubborn Galway double cloak. And I felt that if Paddy Durcan had been there he would have provided the drive to push us on to win that game. 

The switch of Aido into FF as well is one that didn’t come off for us. (Has it ever worked in fairness throughout his career?) In fact the last day it had an even more negative effect. I’m not sure who exactly was picking up Paul Conroy before this but certainly he was very quiet while Aido was operating around the middle third. However when he went inside it culminated in Conroy making hay at the other end and coming away with several points from play. 

As the game wore on and Galway  could see the finishing line they clearly became more edgy and desperate. Frankly I thought they let us back in to the game just as much as we upped the tempo. This is, though, normal enough for a young team. I believe that if we were to meet Galway again they will have learned big time from this game and they won’t make this mistake again if 5/6 points up while going down the stretch. And that is definitely something that management need to be aware of. 

Overall our management have several questions to ask themselves. Primarily to do with changes in the second half when it clearly wasn’t working for us on the field.

Our subs though were okay, I thought. I understand why Orme was introduced as he was there to play the passes in. He did on a few occasions and Carr won frees from resulting from possession from Orme’s kicks.  Yes Orme’s last point attempt was rash but hopefully he will learn from that.

Darren McHale should however should have been introduced much sooner as he is a good player with constant movement who gets involved in the game. He could have offered us more threat especially when we were so quiet and lacked that penetration in the second half. 

For us, though, we have to accept the loss and recognise that Galway were the better team for the majority of that game. But we shouldn’t feel too downhearted. The game really had a league tempo to it I felt and there were no big hard hits that you would expect in championship. It was only in the final five minutes that a real championship intensity came into it from Mayo. 

Whether our team can reproduce this intensity over a longer period is the biggest question going forward. If they can and then can further sustain this for say 30/40 minutes in the game they are a match for any team in the country. 

If, however, the toll of losing last year’s final and this year’s bad league final defeat is hanging over this team then, well frankly, we’re better off outta it this year and taking a break to re-energise a few batteries, look at alternatives and get over some horrific injuries. We will see. 

57 thoughts on “A few thoughts on the Galway game after watching it back again

  1. Two things that has me annoyed about losing to Galway.

    1. We knew if we shut out Conroy we were on are way to winning that game, for some reason he was given a free run of the pitch at times.

    2. We knew after the all ireland final loss last year we needed to mix up our game plan, whilst i thought we showed glimpses of a kicking game in the league at times, we are still using the same game plan. Galway played a extra man back and we were clueless once we got past halfway, there is a blueprint on how to beat us and i fear any team we come up against will have a good chance if they pack the defence.

  2. Great post. You raise an interesting/concerning question about our readiness for the Galway game when you say that it had league look about it and Mayo only showed championship intensity for last 5 minutes. Were we not told that Mayo did not want to be in the league final and that all the focus was on the championship game with Galway. Where was that urgency, focus and intensity we were expecting and why wasn’t it there.
    Has the psychological scars finally really started to impact noy just on AL final day..?
    I dont think there is anything more than a QF in us this year. In respect to JH the time to take stock and discuss the present management team is when we are out of the championship and contracts are up.
    James said when he took over 4 years ago that Mayo would win an AL …but it probably wouldn’t be this year(2019) and that set alarm bells ringing for me. I doubt if Dooher and co said the same thing when they took over Tyrone last year.
    So maybe there lies the problem we just dont believe we can really win it. How to change that mindset is the question…!

  3. I agree with Seanie above. We simply have to change the way we play as opposition have a way to beat us as it stands.. The slow build up, giving time for opposition to throw 2 sweepers into their defence. Coupled with quick couner attacks as our movements generally involve throwing one or two defenders forward.
    Hopefully we will see something less predictable and that injured players will return. Our new generation are just not matchwinners yet.
    Horan has to be more ruthless with players who have been well tried and offer nothing more than slowing the game down with lateral or backwards passing. I aree with JPM, more of McHale please.
    A semi final place would be a great achievement.

  4. Galway with their biggest ever margin of victory over Andy Morans Leitrim in the Connacht championship. Galway scoring well and bench options stepping up looking fit and conditioning much improved.

    Have home advantage for the Connacht final and are favourites with all bookies. The Rossies can hardly upset them again?

  5. @MO2021 – its impossible for Leitrim to compete with a county that has nearly 9 times its population so i wouldn’t read into that result too much or how good players looked. We put 5-20 past them last year when half our team was out with covid.

  6. Great win for Galway today with many different scorers and another 4 goals scored. Roscommon have better forwards than Mayo but are not as strong in midfield and backs. If Galway keep improving Roscommon will need a top drawer performance to stop us but they are always capable of course. The draw opens up for the winner for a tilt at a final but as it stands Kerry are red hot favourites.

  7. Great post JPM, that focuses on some of the critical issues in that game.

    I had a look back myself at the second half of last year’s CF in Croker. Sad maybe, but there you are. I thought we were untouchable for most of that half. OK Galway didn’t shut up shop, but they couldn’t. Our running game was devastating, but the hits, the tigerishness, the dispossessions, (OHora on Walsh), the turnovers (Aido was superb), just blew Galway away. And, remember we had to dismantle a 5 point lead.

    We did nothing in the Castlebar game to approach that. As you say JP, Paddy is vital, but also as you say, Darren gives us options. Cillian should be fitter, but can we afford Doc and himself in the FF line? On balance I hope we’re not in a preliminary qualifier. We should have near enough a full pick by early June.

  8. Yes moving Aido to FF has worked but not enough. I remember the great goal he scored against Donegal as a perfect example. When he moves in they don’t put the ball in high or quickly enough. That’s not Aidos fault. I remember before one of our All Ireland losses to Dublin Jim Mc Guinness suggested that Mayo had to try something different and he suggested Aido and Barry Moran as an option in the FF line. The high ball worked for Donegal today and the Gooch said it was a template for other teams. The problem he said was that teams are all about possession and afraid of losing the ball.
    We are going nowhere running into cul de sacs so we need variation. I will be amazed if they don’t have Aido at FF.

  9. Watched Two games of Gaelic Football on TV today, by far the most entertaining game was Tyrone v Kerry Under 20s in the All Ireland semifinal… High standard, offensive football played by both teams, and the Red Hand still had the upper hand over the Kingdom.. Tyrone lost a number of players to retirement earlier in the year, but after the U20 All Ireland final v Kildare, I’d expect a few drafted in to strengthen the Red Hand.. One or two of the Tyrone guy’s are certainly big enough, fast enough and skillful enough..Donegal v Cavan good game as well, but I taught the pace of the game wasn’t the highest, now probably it was a very warm May day in Clones, I think Donegal will have to up the pace considerably v Derry…. In the meantime, I hope Mayo have been working on a kicking game, and working on a defensive structure other than One on One .. We live in hope!

  10. I thought cavans use of the direct kicking game and variety in their attacking play was an absolute joy to watch in the 1st half,lots of accurate kick passing and no lateral play, seemed to completely take donegal by surprise.
    They only got undone in the end by a poxy fluke goal.

    Surely there is scope for mayo to add some more direct variation to their play, get the best out of our ff line, not this one dimensional running game

  11. The aido at ff discussion again makes me laugh. It hasn’t worked for about 10 years and has been tried countless times, it’s all well and good having a big man in there but you can’t carry a man in there who isn’t capable of turning and popping a score.

    Cavan had 2 big young lads in there yday who could win high ball,but both could turn and score off either foot. Same when murphy goes inside for donegal he can do damage when he gets it

    Tell me who ye would drop from that full forward line to shoehorn in AOS?

  12. I think the most mathematically proven naive aspect of our play is as follows.
    When we have the ball, we push out a level of attacking numbers from our defenders to leave 2 v 2 in a lot of space in our full backline.
    The small benefit is we have another attacking body in the opposition half of the field.
    The most damaging and mathenatucalky provable weakness of this is that the oppositions ball winner/scorers inside are left 2 v 2 or 1 v 1.
    Given the huge space available the kickpass inside only needs to go down the near sideline side of the full forward. The defender will be marking goal side. So even under pressure, modern division teams are capable of getting that pass away consistently.
    Now, where it is most egregious.
    When you have a force of nature player like David Clifford, well now you’re just handing away points on the board.
    It’s mathenatucally the % probability that +1 defensive attacker is better for the scoreboard than David Clifford marked with a direct sweeper in front.
    Teams have enough defensive numbers back that the extra defensive attacker only makes a marginal difference to our probability of scoring.

  13. Does anyone know when the draw is for the first round of back door games

  14. As far as I know there will only be a draw next monday morning 16/05/2022 if tipperary beat limerick in the Munster semi-final. The teams that will be in it are Mayo, Louth, Clare,Tyrone, and Armagh. The first two teams drawn out will play in a preliminary round. If Limerick beat Tipperary there will be no draw until 30/05/2022.

  15. Cork had the blueprint for playing Kerry the last day. Unfortunately they ran out of steam and didn’t have the quality themselves to really capitalise, but the core ideas were correct. That is the game plan that will beat Kerry, but I don’t know who will execute it well enough this year to pull it off.

  16. Doesn’t it seem an awful length of time to wait for first rd qualifiers when all teams could be known by next Sunday evening .

  17. Having seen all the big hitters in action I think dublin will be feeling quite good about things again after the weekend

    Donegal have all the talent, size and scoring power you want for ai contenders but there is something not right with them I can’t put my finger on. Think they are unsure of their identity and are tactically confused. Cavan could have beaten them again yday were it not for fortuitous goal

    Tyrone don’t look a happy camp, discipline is terrible and squad depth really locking which means they must start players like mcshane who are patently out of form

    Mayo, like Donegal, have an identity crisis. We only have one way of playing under horan which top teams have worked out, put bodies across your 40 and mayo will just keep running into them

    Then kerry, who I watched on Saturday and was not overly impressed by at all, a rudimentary sweeper setup with powter and some tigerish marking was enough to stump them for long periods. The ref gave Cork nothing and it took kerrys bench (moran, Geaney etc) to get them across the line

    It’s all to play for

  18. @Supermac: I agree that there is more scope to go direct (we badly need a plan B at this stage), but IMO Darren Coen probably makes more sense as a target man than Aido. He’s well able to pop a score or lay ball off, though we might lose a bit of defensive coverage with him.

  19. Don’t think Aido or Darren Coen are the answer as a target man. Would like to see Diarmuid and Ryan alternate positions at times. Diarmuid has the size to win any kind of ball, well able to score and has the knack of fisting high balls into the net. Ryan has the ability to pick him out.

  20. @jimbo, careful not to jinx it. Westmeath beating Kildare on the 15th would force a qualifier round too. With both Westmeath and Tipperary winning it would mean 4 teams being drawn from that 5.

    Kildare forwards do look in fantastic form at the minute and hard to imagine they won’t have a bit too much firepower for Westmeath in that one, so understandable enough removing it as a big caveat. It’d be a huge shock.

    In the other you’d have to imagine Tipp will fancy their chances going into the Limerick match. After a draw to Waterford and heavy defeat to Leitrim early in the league they went 5 wins from 5 the rest of the league (including a 4 point win in Cavan) and only got pipped by a point in a tight final against Cavan. We all saw how well that Cavan side performed against Donegal (a genuinely world class save from Patton onto the crossbar in the first half in that one if anyone hasn’t watched it yet) so have to imagine they’ll be brimming with confidence and looking for a shot at taking down Limerick. Toss of a coin stuff.

  21. ‘Target man’ doesn’t need to be a giant either. Just needs to be a good ballwinner.
    So with that in mind leave cillian and ROD in there on their own and leave space in front of them to kick ball in to, don’t crowd them out with runners.

    Look at the quality of ball cavan were kicking into young lynch yesterday, quick direct ball and he destroyed mccole.

    No reason cillian and rod couldn’t do similar damage if they got the same supply and room

  22. Are we 100% sure that the qualifier draw won’t be made next week, even if there is no need for a preliminary qualifier? It would seem a bit silly to only give teams one week notice of who they will be playing if the draw isn’t til the following week.

  23. If there’s no preliminary rd , the first rd of qualifiers isn’t till the 4th of June . So although I see no reason why they need to delay the actual draw but they would have plenty of time for the draw that’s for sure .

    Why isn’t there a clear transparent feed of information on all the particulars of the championship, dates for draws , home and away rules , times and days etc . It’s bonkers the way they carry on , waiting for someone in your local who knows someone in the know to tell ya just simple bloody stuff . It’s like a need to know basis at times .

  24. @seanburke
    As I understand it and as has been posted in this thread there will be a preliminary round of qualifiers if Westmeath beat Kildare or if tipp beat Limerick.If one of those results happens then two of any of the teams in the qualifiers will play a preliminary round If both of those results happens then four teams will play a preliminary round.Thats my understanding of it.

  25. Jimbo, There has to be 8 teams in the qualifiers. If there are more then there will be a preliminary round.

    Currently we have Mayo, Tyrone, Armagh, Louth, Clare, Cork. Teams left to enter are Monaghan or Derry, Dublin or Meath. Only way there will be a preliminary round is if Westmeath beat Kildare or Tipp beat Limerick.

    Now how that preliminary round is decided I don’t know. My guess would be first two teams drawn out play it. The draw will probably take place on Monday 16th with the preliminary round taking place on weekend of 21st or 28th as round 1 of qualifiers takes place on 4/5 June.

  26. Understand all that Fw . What I’m saying is there isn’t enough detail released , for example they could have it up on the website in black and white easy to understand,” first rd of qualifiers draw will be held on such a morning , if in the event of a preliminary rd or rds needed draw will take place after preliminary on such a date , time , morning Ireland whatever it is , just release the whole schedule for the entire championship. Under 20 , under 17 all included, the structure, how venues are determined , etc etc .

    Christ if I knew the details I could map it all out in a matter of hours , put it up on a website and there ya have it , we all know how it works and every permutation/scenario covered .

  27. Seán you are right, PR in the GAA leaves a lot to be desired. Never any GAA news on the radio in the sports bulletin.
    It should be built into our next contract and perhaps a change to TV3.
    RTÉ coverage and analysis is brutal.

  28. @ alan kenny. if there is a preliminary draw or draws. ONLY FIVE TEAMS WILL BE IN IT . Any team that lost in a provincial semi-final i.e. Cork, Limerick ?, or losers on Monaghan v Derry or kildare ? or losers of Dublin v Meath will not be included in the preliminary round draw.

  29. Alright calm down. I read it there. That makes no sense to me considering some provinces you can enter straight into the semi final stage of the province. Should just be an open draw of the 8 teams knocked out of their provinces and if more, first two teams play a preliminary. The preliminary is set for May 21st. So draw will definitely be next Monday.

  30. Good news alert ! Paddy played a full game AvB over the weekend . now thats fuckin mighty news altogether

  31. We definitley need Paddy for the next game. Unreal to read an A v B team played in Castlebar over the weekend yet the hurlers had to go to Ballina. I wonder are the hurlers able to train in McHale Park this week in preparation for Saturday.

  32. Did we ever get confirmation that Flynn’s injury was as bad as we feared ………I don’t think we did ……..

  33. Goagain, there’s more than one pitch in Castlebar – they didn’t necessarily have the A v B match on the main MacHale Park pitch.

  34. KM79 no confirmation on Flynn injury, so maybe that’s a positive. But then again, Brendan Harrison’s cruciate injury wasn’t confirmed until after he had surgery and after his club confirmed it too. Vacuum of info!!

  35. @km79
    Not an official Mayo GAA statement but The Connaught Telegraph reported over a week ago that Flynns rehab had gone well and that he would be in contention for the next game.
    He turned out to be a big loss for us against Galway.

  36. Mother of god reading some of the posts and the talk about what process the qualifier system will take is really an apsolute joke the gaa have screwed with the championship so much now that it’s gone way to far and to complicated and not for a single minute is it going to level any playing field teams are going to hammer teams no matter what daft system they put in place ,it seems to me that their are equally good footballers in most counties but the different s+c is a huge factor which boils down to the money each county gets to spend on it there’s different levels and until the gaa cut the pie proportionitly it’s never going to change ie cork and Cavan were giving as good as they got but down the back straight the better conditioned teams pulled away ,the minor championship format seems a good system a round robin set up where all teams get games don’t no why it hasn’t been tried at senior

  37. lt really has been a terrible start to Seamus Tuohys tenure as Chairman of Mayo Gaa, let’s Galway train in McHale Park after them not offering us 1 home game in the Spring for the League , stopped the Hurlers and Minors playing there championship games in McHale Park and leaves all Club players in the County without a competitive County Senior League games for April and May, and starts them up the week Mayo kick off there season in the qualifiers and lots of younger players go off on J1s. You couldn’t make it this stuff up.

  38. In the Galway game Hennelly was a also big loss as he may have scored some of the long range frees/45s

  39. Tough questions asked today in Sean Rice’s column about Seamus Tuohy attending Mount Falcon,. It seems no one at recent county board could answer who organised it. Another saga that has to be highlighted.

  40. Sam og how do you know that Galway never offered Mayo an option to host one of the league games. My understanding is that the three venues approached were the preference of the Mayo Co. Board as reported in a newspaper at the time (can’t recall which one). Also on Galway using the new McHale Park surface in advance I recall Mayo having a run out in Pearse Stadium the Saturday week before the Connacht semi final in 2017. That Salthill pitch was re layed in the year or two previous to 2017. Tbh it made and makes no difference ultimately.

  41. Kerry trained in Pairc Ui Rinn last Saturday week. A week before their game with Cork.

  42. In an article last week, Ed McGreal alluded to the fact that Jordan Flynn is out for the season.

    “Maybe Galway might have been worn out earlier had Mayo more hard runners in action – Paddy Durcan, Oisín Mullin for the full game, Diarmuid O’Connor with more training time in him, Mattie Ruane in better form.
    Tommy Conroy and Jordan Flynn not out for the season.”

  43. It’s not a fact, Sean – truth is, we’re working in a fact-free zone this year where it comes to player injuries. Mike Finnerty had a good piece in the Mayo News a few weeks back, giving the situation as he was able to establish then, but there’s been no official word for months on what the position is on any player. And, as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum so all manner of stories have grown legs as regards who might be available and when …

  44. Sound , I might of picked up an earlier post wrong or that post could of been incorrect .

    I really try my best these days to limit my criticism of management, cb etc cause I am of the opinion most of them want what’s best for the cause but fook me this lack of information now is bordering on ridiculous, shur there comes a point when supporters will start to question what are we supporting. You have to have some form of communication with your fan base .

  45. At this stage I feel the Mayo fans/supporters are treated as a hinderance/nuisance to the mayo manager and county board. Michael Moyles (same with Sean Deane with his panel) announced the ladies panel and I heard him and some of the players interviewed on Mid West and all was good.

  46. On injuries, here’s what the Connaught are reporting:

    ” With regard to the other three major injury doubts – Rob Hennelly (recovering from keyhole knee surgery), Oisin Mullin (hamstring) and Jordan Flynn (ankle) – it will be much closer to Mayo’s qualifier game before a definite decision will be able to be made on their ability to play”.

    Their main point is that Paddy took part in an A versus B game, which Mindthe house reported earlier.


  47. @goagain in my opinion Mayo supporters are a hindrance to James Horan after all he blamed us for going quiet during the 2013 final and it cost us the match maybe he left Alan Freeman on that day we’d have something to shout about. Of course it was our fault too when we lost the 2012 final the day when Michael Murphy destroyed Kevin Keane who is a foot smaller than him. Intetrestingly there wasnt a single Mayo or Dublin supporter at the December 2020 final and we lost that too should we have been outside Croke Park beating Bodhrans? Who’s fault was that? When Horan delclared he was going to take the bullshit out of Mayo football was he referring to the supporters?

  48. @Glorydays agree with your post. Andy saying ‘we are all in this together’ seems a lifetime ago. Yet we will be asked to help raise the minimum of 3 million euros to develop new training pitches (from today’s Mayo News) and still no Centre of Excellence.

  49. There’s enough Mayo billionaires and centi millionaires to outlay the majority of that 3 million in one swoop.
    Money is tight, people need and want to support urgent local and national charities.
    Bloody hell, make a top 100 Mayo rich list and ring each one with a call from a senior player and Mayo legend.
    People are beyond tired with digging in the pocket at this stage.

  50. Glorydays and goagain both of ye sound exactly like a certain individual on social media who is pedalling an agenda against the Mayo county board and the Mayo manager

  51. Posting things like ” Kevin keane is a foot smaller than Michael Murphy ” doesn’t inspire anybody to take you too seriously.

  52. @Deel Rover I am a season ticket holder for many years and also a regular poster here. The only ‘agenda’ I have is simple. I want the best for Mayo GAA and to win Sam Maguire and that is what I have posted about for years. Thankfully I am able to form my own opinions without any influence. I can see with my own eyes what has gone on in the last few weeks – the tiles, fundraiser, how our hurlers were treated and the fans dont even know who is on the panel.

  53. All – there’s a distinct drift towards off-field issues in the debate here, which I’ve little appetite for and which, curiously, appear to be all that some contributors are able to post comments on. More focus on on-field matters would be welcome.

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