A gawk at Galway

Photo: GAA

We’re now just a week out from the Galway game so it’s definitely time to turn the beams in the direction of this one.

Just seven days on from Easter Sunday, our meeting with Galway in the quarter-final of the Conancht SFC is a pivotal Championship encounter for both of us. With the back door restored this year, defeat isn’t the end of the road for either county but whichever side loses this day week will still be wounded badly so there’s a huge amount at stake for both of us.

It’s the first match to be played on the redeveloped pitch at MacHale Park and it’s also, interestingly, the first Mayo/Galway Championship match to be played at the venue since 2018. That was the day Tom Parsons suffered that gut-wrenching injury, a game in which Galway snatched victory courtesy of an injury time goal from Johnny Heaney.

That win completed a three-in-a-row success for the Tribesmen over us in the Championship as Kevin Walsh and his rather unattractive Galway Shawl tactics successfully got under our skin and ended a period of emphatic dominance we’d enjoyed over them in the earlier part of the decade.

But then James Horan came back and the pendulum swung back in our favour again. We finally got the better of them on a memorable night in Limerick in the qualifiers in 2019, we beat them again in the behind-closed-doors Covid Connacht final in late 2020 and beat them again in high summer last year at the novel Nestor Cup decider at Croke Park.

To make matters even better from our point of view, in each of those matches we knocked the neighbours out of the Championship as well. Admittedly, that only happened the last two years because the format reverted – due to Covid – to the old knockout one but it was nonetheless as satisfying from our point of view as it must have been frustrating for them.

And so on Sunday we butt heads once again. James Horan has an impeccable record against Galway in the Championship but leads an injury-scarred team into this game. Padraic Joyce had his fair share and more of good days against Mayo as a player but has had a less happy time as manager and he comes into this game knowing it’s one he simply has to win.

Galway’s form so far this year will send them into Sunday’s showdown in fairly good mood. They won untroubled promotion from Division Two of the National League but, a bit like ourselves, the wheels came off the wagon to some degree as the spring campaign reached its conclusion.

Galway started the year full of intent. That much was clear when they swept to victory under the Dome in the pre-season FBD League – beating ourselves and Roscommon in the process – and they took that form into an impressive Division Two campaign.

They set out their stall in Round 1, thumping Meath by 1-14 to 0-6 in Salthill, following that up the next weekend with a comfortable 1-12 to 0-9 win over Down up at Páirc Esler in Newry.

A fortnight later, back at Pearse Stadium, they got the better of John Maughan’s Offaly in a high-scoring encounter. The former Mayo manager quipped afterwards, however, that his team had exposed how to get at Galway in a game that finished 2-17 to 3-10 in Galway’s favour.

Three more wins extended Galway’s 100% record to six matches and secured promotion back to the top tier with a match to spare. It’s worth noting, as an aside, that Galway had been hugely unlucky to get relegated at all in 2021, bracketed as they were in Division One South along with Kerry and Dublin so all but guaranteed to end up in a relegation play-off. Then, when that happened, they had to go to Clones to face Monaghan and were extremely unlucky to lose by a point in extra-time there.

Those three wins were over Cork, an emphatic 3-22 to 2-17 win over the flailing Leesiders at Páirc Uí Chaoimh (you know, the place where GAA matches are sometimes played when rock concerts aren’t on there), followed by a lower scoring 2-8 to 1-5 win over Clare at Pearse Stadium and then an eye-catching hammering of promotion-chasing Derry. Galway scorched the Oakleafers by 4-11 to 0-12 in that one at Owenbeg.

Photo: GAA

But then a funny thing happened on the way to what should have been a successful conclusion to their League campaign. With nothing to play for in Round 7, Joyce decided to field a weakened team against Roscommon and the Rossies took full advantage, beating their neighbours by 1-20 to 1-15 at Dr Hyde Park, thus claiming promotion themselves and setting up a rematch in the final at Croke Park a week later.

If the Tribesmen thought that order would be restored at HQ in that Division Two decider they were to be sadly mistaken. Not for the first time in recent years, Roscommon tore into Galway with considerable abandon and for a time in the second half it looked like they were going to give them a proper trimming.

Then Shane Walsh was introduced and the much-vaunted but till then strangely lethargic Galway attack finally sprang into life. The Tribesmen reeled the Rossies in with calm efficiency, hitting six points on the spin to lead by one with time running out.

But just as they looked good to see out the win, they were undone – in true Galway style, one might argue – with some comically poor defending in injury time that enabled sub Diarmuid Murtagh to waltz through their rearguard and lash the winning goal to the net. The Rossies claimed the title thanks to a 1-20 to 0-22 victory.

So, instead of hitting the road to Castlebar with the Division Two trophy in the boot, Joyce instead takes his team into the meeting with us stinging from defeats on successive weekends to Roscommon. That’s not exactly the ideal kind of trajectory to be on heading into a game like Sunday’s.

But then we’re not exactly in rude health either. We also had a profitable League campaign, securing our top tier status early on, but then saw things spin out of control, losing winnable matches against both Kerry and Tyrone and losing players to injury every time we put a team out on the pitch. Then to cap things off, we got absolutely hammered by Kerry in the Division One final.

All of which means that both teams have fairly fundamental questions hanging over them heading into Sunday’s meeting. Are Galway all puff and no substance? Will James Horan’s famed ‘learnings’ ever amount to more than making the same mistakes again and again? Questions, questions – for both of us.

This being competitive sport, though, we all know the drill. For whichever of us wins next weekend, the negative stuff will be quietly packed away and a more positive narrative will take hold. For the losers, though, the negative plotline will get dialled up to full volume ahead of the qualifiers. That’s just the way it goes.

But how will it go? Let’s end with a poll on that, which, because it’s a match that’s to be decided on the day, needs to be binary in nature. Time, then, to test the waters a week out from the latest episode in this long-running series.

Will we beat Galway?

  • Yes (56%, 686 Votes)
  • No (44%, 539 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,225

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97 thoughts on “A gawk at Galway

  1. The poll will obviously be heavily balanced towards mayo, but in reality – only the second week in – we’ll do well to see a more 50/50 game all season..

    Very, very hard to call. I don’t think either side was overly fussed about the league final in advance, but the manner of both defeats will have shaken both sides.. Galway were obviously only beaten by a point but the way Roscommon waltzed through them at times will be serious cause for concern. The flip side of that is the performances of Paul Conroy and Damien comer were absolutely phenomenal.. and it wouldn’t be outlandish to conclude if Shane Walsh started they would have won on the day

    Very much a mixed bag of a league for ourselves but I do think Galway are a smidgen of a step down from most of what we’ve faced. I think there’s an all ireland contending 15 to be found and nourished in Galway but Joyce just isn’t getting it out of them yet and I just don’t know if they’ve the steel to go really toe to toe with ourselves in a blood and thunder championship game down the stretch

    That said they contain match winning forwards we simply don’t possess and in what will surely be a tight game, a worldie performance by a Damien Comer or Shane Walsh could be enough in itself to carry them over the line

    If I had to predict it, I think we might just shade it but this really could go either way..

  2. Galway are well beatable, 3 key match ups on Comer, Walsh, Conroy and the game is won. The only reservation I have is tactical learnings and improvements which I don’t think there has been much off, to quote O’Rourke Mayo are to predictable and that makes it easy for opposing managers. Anyway JH will win this one…

  3. I think we will shade it if Paddy and Diarmuid are back. If they’re not id worry where our scores will come from. Lets be honest Galway have better forwards than us and if they click they will win. Galway eternally always have better forwards than us whether thats down to coaching or a bigger population I dont know. Whatever happens this year God help us when Aidan Cillian Lee and Jason call it a day. That day isnt far away maybe a year or two and we will really be in tranistion then. Tommy Conroy is huge loss and Cillian isnt back to his best yet either is Jason and Oisin seems to be injured a lot. I think we will need Oisin in midfield running at the Galway defence he’s not a man marker lets not make an AOS out of him and not being able to find his best position.

  4. Mayo just dont have good forwards while Galway are poor at the back. Is Mayos defence as good as a few years ago I dont think so. I think we will get goals and a high score but our defenders need to step up which is uncertain. Mayo very poor against Kerry. Galway to win by 5 as Mayo cant afford Tommy Conroy absence with so many forward players afraid to shoot.

  5. Team for Sunday hopefully!!
    1.Hennelly/Byrne
    2.O’Hora marking Damien Comer
    3.Mullin marking Shane Walsh
    4.Plunkett
    5.Durcan captain
    6.Keegan marking Paul Conroy
    7.McLaughlin has to come back in for Coen
    8.Aido back to Midfield his best position
    9. Ruane
    10.Boland more of scoring threat than Loftus
    11.Diarmuid his best position
    12.Hession/Carney
    13.Orme/Cillian
    14 O’Donoghue
    15.Carr/Doherty
    Jason Doherty and Cillian don’t look fit enough judging by the League final so probably start Orme and Carr in the corners
    Conor Loftus, Stephen Coen and Kevin McLoughlin have all been really struggling for any kind of form, all 3 have been very poor over the League campaign.
    Fionn McDonagh and Brickenden have been too inconsistent for nailing down a starting place for championship.

  6. I’m confident of a mayo win for one simple reason, galway have no defenders. Joyce has seemingly no clue what a top defender looks like.

    Sean Kelly is a class player but a forward at heart, silke and molloy in the fb line are not defenders. They are nice footballers. ROD will have a lot of joy

    Conroy, walsh, comer are undoubtedly quality but they are hardly new to us and we should have the match ups there.

    Think it will be tit for tat for about 55 mins then a 15 minute power surge from mayo at the end should see us win by 3 or 4 points

  7. Ah it really is a hard one to call.. But my only reason on that is Mayo are without Jordan Flynn Tommy Conroy, and possibly Hennelly. Ruane will still be massively important, but I’m hoping young James Mc Loughlin gets a start in midfield. I’d expect Sean Kelly to start full back ( he was a huge loss in last year’s second half) .
    I’ve had massive reservations about Joyce as a manager at least Cian O Neill was brought in to add some managerial nous but I still think a team who are All Ireland finalists, league finalists, going for 3 in a row in Connacht, at home, with a far better managed squad will go in strong favourites.
    Honestly the negativity here over the last few weeks amazes me. Ye honestly should go in to next Sunday with no major worries..
    Mayo by 4.

  8. I expect a big reaction from Mayo on Sunday. We didn’t perform in the last 3 league games as we were preparing for the Galway game. This was the focus for us this year and securing early safety in the league allowed us to follow the schedule required. Of course the injuries will have put a spanner in the works but we have had to deal with losing starting players in previous years. I predict a win by 3+ points. It will be great to be back in McHale Park after a long absence.

  9. Not on topic but New York looking very very strong against Sligo here..watching on gaa go.

  10. I felt last year our conditioning and fitness blew Galway out of the water in the second half on a very hot summer’s day.
    A number of things have happened since then that has me sure of a Galway win by three to four points:

    Galway have massively closed the gap on the s&c front. The team looks visibly stronger and in much better condition.

    Injuries – they’ve seriously racked up. Yes, Galway aren’t top notch defensively but we simply haven’t the forwards to do enough damage. Tommy is a huge loss here.

    Emotional baggage – I’m afraid last year was one defeat too many. I simply cannot see the players rousing themselves like before.

    Lack of tactical nous: Nothing has changed. Nothing. We have no plan B. Galway can’t be as foolish as they were the last two years. Cian O’Neill will have drilled the team to target our running game. And that’s all he has to do because we have no alternative tactic. It’s frightening but true.

    Very pessimistic I know but just can’t see us winning. In fact, I believe this will not be a difficult game for Galway.

  11. A lot of negatively floating around the blog Willie Joe since the League Final defeat. If anyone was closely watching Mayos development during the League you could see staying in Division 1 was key. Anything else was a bonus. JH experimented a lot using loads of lads a mixture of newbies and experienced players coming back from injuries. There was no mind for a League win. Mayo were and still are this week in the middle of seriously hard training and conditioning. This showed in the League Final. This Mayo Team have a plan. JH is tuning them for a serious crack at the All Ireland. I believe this is one reason for the rise in injuries.
    Injuries aside look at the game in Tralee. A wet and windy night against the so called favourites for Sam this Year and we should have beaten them by 5/6 points. There was only a kick of a ball between Us. Rob is a loss, so too is Tommy Conroy but Beirne is playing well, Cillian is back and hopefully Jason Doherty has sorted the injury. Diarmuid and, Paddy should be back also. Ryan is a real scoring threat. Boland, Orme and Carr are all dangerous. So enough excuses We have good forwards.
    We are playing at home in front of a full house where the Support has always been a 16th Man. Galway won’t be easy they never are but I believe we can get at their defence and put up a high score. Walsh and Comer need watching. Ó Hora and Mullin/Keegan will do this. Paul Conroy will be coming up against Ruane and Ó Shea. Mayo will be ready have no doubt about it. I expect a Mayo win by 5/6 points and to really start the hunt for Sam in A Gutsy Fast paced High scoring Win.
    Enough Negativity. We are Mayo.

  12. One thing to note, McHale park is not a big pitch and Galway have a lot of tall players. We might need to tog bigger for this one.

  13. @The Heather is Rising, Even if what you say it true regarding hard training and your connection between that and the rise in injuries, then that’s hardly what you’d call “tuning them for a serious crack at the All Ireland”, sounds like a great Mayo plan alright.

  14. I think what we need more than anything is tactical awareness, a plan to curb the influence of opposing forwards who we already know are gifted and can’t be left one on one with anyone . Secondly we need to get the ball into the inside line on occasion n a quick direct no nonsense old fashioned way . I know I’m like a broken record here but I’m still convinced Carr could do serious damage , I really hope he’s fit and gets the nod .

  15. Unless it’s an all Ireland final GAA supporters are so poor . The stand hasn’t even sold out yet for Sunday , it would drive you bizzerk to see how they come out of everywhere for a final .

  16. @wj. Strange choice of words there, “gawk”, havent heard it used in ages!! Maybe not since boys on streete corner gawking at the girls as they paraded by in their school uniforms.
    You sent me running to the dictionary and it can also refer to the cuckoo. Isnt this the time of year we hear the cuckoo, down the country at least. We could well here the cuckoo by sunday.
    Irish tradition has it that the last two weeks of April and early days of May often bring a short snap of unseasonably cold weather, and since this is the period during which the cuckoo is heard for the first time, our forefathers called such a cold snap Scairbhin na gCuach.

  17. Very unusual lead up to a Championship game, no indication of whether any of the injured players may start.
    Impossible for Galway to analyze Mayo also.
    Maybe this is the best way to go on the lead up to big games.

  18. Had a long chat with the old man about this game this morning. Such a strange conversation as we seemed to have so many unanswered questions in terms of form, the prospective squad and the likely team.

    I must admit I’m worried about the injuries. Even if we get some of the lads back on the pitch, how fit are they?

    Maybe we’ve been taking precautions towards the end of the league and focused on conditioning for this game. I really hope so!

  19. It is what it is. We have been unlucky with injury’s and we wont have a full squad to pick from next Sunday.

    If Galway had the calibre of players injured we do we would be heavy favourites.

    Its a 50/50 game and we can only pick the best available squad and give it a go.

    A loss isn’t the end of the world but a win sets us up nicely for the rest of the season.

    A lot of negativity within Mayo GAA at the moment and the usual keyboard warriors on twitter and other forums are the driving force behind it.

    Managment and Players know what needs to be done and have got us to at least an all ireland semi final in every campaign. Lets enjoy the summer while we have it because it was a long long winter.

    Up Mayo!

  20. Galway, who were already porous in defence, have Mulkerrins out and Daly doubtful who’d be two definite starters I’m told. Daly is very good. Also going to be without their goalkeeper, possibly like ourselves, and Peter Cooke’s no longer there for midfield either

    So while we’re missing plenty, so are they and we really should be putting a winning score last a defence that open. While having an open game with them is slightly worrying given they’ve Walsh and Comer, they don’t have the man to man markers we have and I’d be confident we could open them up on a few occasions to eek out the win. Durcan back is the big one though, we absolutely need him in there

  21. @ Ontheditch. Interesting post.
    You must be too young to remember when Dublin winning 6 Leinsters in a row (beating Offaly in the 6th) was important enough to be celebrated in ballad form. The word gawk was in the chorus!
    This was also an era when Mayo couldn’t beat Galway or Roscommon to win Connacht.
    Strange and dark times they were – we will hardly see their like again.

  22. Its hard to know what to expect to be honest. Didnt know John Daly is injured ye say I didnt hear that and adds to Galways woes but he hasnt been fully fit this year unfortunately. I assume Paul Kelly will come in and Gallagher with Sean Kelly going back.

  23. Tuamstar, I think the best thing to happen Galway was Murtagh scoring that goal. The defending was so pathetic it couldn’t possibly happen again. Im sure Joyce and Co will be working hard on them. As they say you learn more in defeat etc.

  24. Let’s hope we see a decent ‘performance’ from the team next sunday ; and by that I mean the players start to ‘mix-up’ and vary the play – and as a result control what is going on in the game. The defeat to Kerry was a desperate mauling that is hard to just dismiss as one on the those days that every team encounters. Serious flaws were shown up that day; mainly to do with the running game we religiously adher to and the lack of cover in our defence when attacks break down.

    If we can get a good performance regardless of the result then that is something to take from the game. A win would be a bonus. But what I think is important is that we begin to start playing as a clever team, playing long as well as short and keeping their defenders guessing about our tactics. I think that is what the pundits again and again are getting at when analysing a mayo performance against one of the heavyweights. They cannot all be wrong .

  25. Galway Team i expect to start

    C Gleeson
    K Molloy
    S Kelly
    J Glynn
    C McDaid
    J Daly
    D McHugh
    P Conroy
    P Kelly
    O Gallagher
    M Tierney
    J Heaney
    R Finnerty
    D Comer
    S Walsh

    Mayo team i expect to start

    R Byrne
    L Keegan
    P O’Hora
    M Plunkett
    O Mullin
    S Coen
    E McLaughlin
    M Ruane
    A O’Shea
    B Walsh
    K McLoughlin
    J Carney
    R O’Donaghue
    J Doherty
    J Carr

  26. @Ontheditch, according to the dictionary to gawk means to “stare openly and stupidly”. I’d say people were locked up in 50’s Ireland for “gawking”.

    Anyways, lets look stupidly at Galway.

  27. Seamie CH, you’re on the money with that selection. I think Bryan Walsh, if fit, will play. His aggression is vital around the middle. He made a big impact against Donegal. He can score too, but needs to be putting them away.

  28. It also has a colloquial meaning, Viper, as in to look enquiringly at, but don’t let that get in the way of your increasingly tiresome and troll-like contributions to the debate here.

  29. Ive often heard the term ‘lets have a gawk” used here in Mayo it means lets have a look. You hardly need a dictionary to explain that one

  30. Adrian varley scored 7 for New York last night
    Can anyone galway contributers here,tell why he’s not playing for Galway,on sunday

  31. Gawk …or if some poor highly intoxicated soul is making a eejit of himself in the pub and everyone was Gawkin at him …

  32. Seanie CH, Gallagher seemed to peter out a bit as the league went on.. dont see him featuring at all, I think young McLaughlin will get the nod around the middle

  33. That’s true for a certain age group @Glorydays but there are a few words used in rural Ireland especially that if people knew the real meaning of them then they definitely wouldn’t use them !

    Anyway we have our own language, unfortunately hardly anyone speaks it and every real Gael should.

    Fair play the man from Achill who posts here does.

  34. Ní thuigheann an Sáoh an Searg! .Is fearr Gaelige briste, ná Béarla Cliste, ach nios fearr Gaelige Cliste!

  35. I’m maybe cautious at the best of times – but I’d be surprised if we win this.
    We have plenty of talented players but we lack hardness in the heat of battle. We are poor defensively but our lack of overall hardness is our biggest problem imo.
    The third issue we have is a lack of pace throughout the team with the obvious exceptions of Shane Walsh and Sean Kelly.
    I don’t know if this is true or not – but I have heard from a source who is usually reliable that our goalkeeper and number 6 (Flaherty and Daly) are both out. Gleeson back in goal is an unmitigated disaster. He’s not a county standard keeper full stop – ye will murder us on kick outs mark my words.
    We have big problems in our full back line. Molloy is certainly not a man marker. Silke I think is a better marker but still more comfortable in the half back line.
    We have no option but to play Sean Kelly full back. No one else will cut the mustard I’m afraid.
    Pj would have wanted to play him around the middle driving forward but needs must (Mulkerrin while still unproven is a loss).
    We need Walsh, Comer, Conroy, Kelly to have outstanding games to have a chance.
    Four brilliant players but if held we are in trouble. The other forwards outside of Shane and Damo are not up to much in all truth.

  36. Daveslad – re Adrian Varley. He is a massive loss to us. Whether as a starter or as an impact sub.
    My understanding is he pulled out of the squad last year himself. Let’s just say himself and Pj would have had some clashes the previous season!
    He’s a very clever and unselfish player. The forward mark rule suits his game very well – he was some man to win marks in scoring areas.

  37. Daly went of injured v Roscommon but it didnt look serious. Anyway No excuses on either side.
    I thought gawk might have its origins from some focal i nGaeilge but no.
    @longball, i remember dark days wbhen Galway beat Mayo on way to winning All Ireland and when we did eventually beat them, we couldnt finish the job.
    Bit harsh to say posters who think our day has come are negative imo. As a Galway vfriend of mine said to me “You’d have to fancy us”..
    We have no clue of either team but i do hope both mullin and O’Donaghue are given pivotal roles, chb or midfield and chf, where they can be of major influence.

  38. Galwayman agree wholeheartedly with your first post there.
    People don’t see this set up we have as a true showing.
    Joyce has been shown up since he took the job and the league hammering we took from Mayo in Tuam just after Covid showed how out of his depth joyce is as a manager. He is as we might say up here ” a thick man” as in stubborn and its his way or no way hence why Varley and a few more Steede, Cooke, Michael Daly, stepped away. Watch our kickouts on Sunday we will be destroyed, Conor Gleeson will be under huge pressure, our backs as pointed out are all playing out of positions.
    I hope James Mc loughlin starts as although unproven at this level young Daly that started in the league final is no where near ready. Up top , Walsh is an enigma and as had a very indifferent year, if he fails to turn up apart from Comer, that’s it… Mayo could win this by at least 5 plus …

  39. Fair play to Galwayman and Tuamstar. Ye are giving me a bit of badly needed confidence. I was impressed with Galway throughout the league but was surprised with their loss in the final. I was pleased with how we did in the league apart from that horror no show in the final. With so little information coming out from either county re injuries it’s hard to know where we both stand. Mayo appear to have the bigger injury crisis however. While Galway backs are allegedly suspect our forwards don’t seem capable of taking advantage. Conroy, Walsh, Comer and Kelly are top players and I think Galway despite what the bookies say should be favourites for this one.

  40. Is Liam Silke injured? I think he’s been the best corner back in Connaught the last five years. Fine player, pace, good footballer, good defensively and can get up for a score. Around the six foot mark and hardy raw boned.

  41. @JP –

    I don`t think Liam Silke is injured. I wouldn`t agree that he has been the best corner back in conancht the last 5 years, he has struggled there at times (James Carr 2019 and Kerry 2021) and in my opinion he is a better half back.

  42. I don’t very often do serious posts as I feel that there are far better posters than i,I have the highest respect for what I believe are the best Mayo mangers in my lifetime,Stephen Rochford,and James Horan have done for Mayo ,but I must say after the farce in Croke Park I don’t believe that James Hora has learned anything about winning a final,the total disregard for defence was no different to two thousand and twelve or two thousand and fourteen,surely it is easy to have couple of defenders to watch for breaking ball of which there was plenty but not one defender back to pick it up,the difference between when we hit the posts four times the Kerry defenders were able to catch it,it was shocking to see our best attacking player been last defender,how is he supposed to go the length of the field to score when he is back on the goal line,hopefully we will have two really good scoregetters on our team for Sunday,they should stay within forty meters of the posts to ensure that they can provide our scores,I have said before I believe that we have very good forwards in Mayo down the years but they have to expend far too much energy back in defence,I apologise if I have broken the rules Willie Joe,but I was really disappointed with our performance in Croke Park and feel that we need to learn from last experience,anyway rant over hopefully we will be good enough for Galway

  43. Corrick Bridge, don’t forget what John Maughan and indeed Liam O’Neill did for Mayo football. They put fitness and steel into our teams.

  44. Some are a little too quick to dismiss Galway I think. Anyone with a memory can recall games between both counties where the underdog would topple the Provincial king.
    Tuam (where Galway were virtually unbeatable back then) 1999, in the lashings of rain, a mix and match Mayo defeated the reigning All Ireland champions. All Ireland champions that contained some of the modern games greats, e.g. Fallon, Donnellan, Joyce, De Paor, Savage, Silke etc. It would be 5 years before Mayo would win another Connacht title after that.
    Castlebar, 2016, where Mayo were going for 6 in a row Connacht titles but fall to a fiercely competitive, unfancied, Galway team. Then, as now, managed by a spikey, not overly popular, manager in Walsh. Also like Joyce, with Celtic Crosses in his arse pocket.
    Anyone that stood on the old grass embankment in MacHale Park and watched Mayo get hammered by Galway back in the 70’s and 80’s will NEVER take a Galway team lightly, nor dismiss them too quickly. The rivalry runs too deep, that meandering border is too long and as much as many Galway people won’t admit it, I’m sure they cheered Dublin and Tyrone to their AIF victories over us. As loudly as I cheered for Meath and Kildare when Galway played them in their AIFs. That’s as it should be.
    A Galwayman told me back in 2004 that they would win another All Ireland before we do. It stings now as much as it did back then because it could yet prove to be true. In these games it has never mattered who was missing, who was at full strength, or indeed the form of either side going in to the game. It has always been about what happens on the field. The sight of each other raises the blood pressure because both teams know that anything less than 100% commitment and endeavour means a bad outing and many hard questions.
    For me, both managers are under pressure in this one. Had Joyce beaten the Rossies in their league final I feel he would have bought himself some time and credibility but that defeat could have holed him under the waterline, especially if Galway lose badly on Sunday. For me Horan is in his last chance saloon too. Repeated failings from a man that lectures about “learnings” would not be tolerated in Kerry, Dublin or Tyrone. 4 losing All Ireland final appearances, each one worse than the other (throw in the collapse v Kerry in Croke Park in 2014) and a complete disrepect towards the best set of fans and clubs in the country, have sapped my patience and tolerance. Tyrone ran legend of the game in Mickey Harte out the door, Kerry didn’t even wait for Peter Keanes term to end. Here, in Mayo, we “go again”.
    well, we’ll see.

  45. I am reading this now ‘The Mayo News was told yesterday by a Mayo GAA spokersperon that they had been given no update on injured players or a finalised championship squad by the Mayo senior team management’. Honest to God this is some carry on – it seems everyone from county board to local media to the fans are kept in the dark!! Also ‘no member of the Mayo senior team management would be speaking to the media in advance of Sunday’s game”

  46. That’s the official line alright, Mayolass, no update from the management team about anything, a position that’s been in place since the Armagh game and has nothing to do with the GAA/GPA dispute.

  47. Sounds like we will be none the wiser about who will feature for Mayo until 15.35 on Sunday afternoon.

    Id imagine both teams will just regurgitate the team sheets from the league finals and make wholesale changes on Sunday afternoon.

  48. Mayolass, that’s nothing new so get used to it.
    We, the supporters, are a necessary nuisance to Horan and the county set-up. We’re needed to fund the multi-million € operation that is the Mayo senior set-up, but apart from that he wishes we’d keep quiet and out of the way.
    The irony is he blamed us for being too quiet in 2013 and said it fed through to the players on the field! One player it didn’t feed through to was Freeman who , despite having assisted 3 scores and having 2 Dublin men marking him in the AIF, was hauled off at 27 minutes. It didn’t feed through to Higgins either who, with us chasing a score we needed in the dying minutes of the same AIF, was instructed to stay 60 yards back the field man marking O’Gara – even though O’Gara had torn his hamstring and couldn’t jog never mind run!
    Now we’re getting a little uppity and expect news and info from the county set-up? Maybe a snippet here or there to a favoured journo? Maybe a journo that hasn’t been too critical towards us, or asked too many awkward questions? They won’t even have a repeat of the sham interview with Tommy Marren of Mid West radio and their “proof-read” and screened questions.
    No, just pay your couple of hundred € for your season ticket, take shite seats in Croke Park (and now it seems in MacHale Park too) and wait until I say so as regards the club scene.

  49. I 100% agree with you Pebblesmeller Alan Freeman should never have been taken off he was beating his man. And i also agree JH has disdain for the fans i dont think thats fair. To cut a long story short Horan has done a lot for Mayo football and when he eventually retires i would like to see Kevin McStay get his chance with Stephen Rochford assisting him.

  50. What has Padraic Joyce told us about the availability of Galway players for next Sunday.
    Is John Daly fit? Shane Walsh?
    Haven’t heard any update from him. Mabye I missed it.

  51. Do we know the Liverpool and United teams starting tonight?
    I hope we don’t release our team too early, more tactically savy guys then Joyce may have a word in his ear.

  52. Great post Pebblesmeller

    You could probably add 2007 to that aswell

    We were well fancied that day – we had just made the previous All Ireland final (Galway dumped out by Westmeath in the qualifiers..) there was a feel good factor about Johnno’s return and we had just made a div1 league final also

    yet we were ultimately given a bit of a hiding

  53. Well said Pebblesmeller. It seems we are only a hindrance to the manager and the County Secretary told us to ‘cop on’. Still though the County Board were out looking for the money off the fans to pay for the field. Lets hope everyone that brought a tile is happy with the finished wall/tiles at the unveiling Saturday night. Next thing there will be more fundraising to do up the two adjacent fields and we will be expected to cough up again. Anyone see the pictures of Kerry’s state of the art facilities?

  54. Would someone be kind enough to explain to me what the media ban, lack of information is stemming from ?

    I genuinely don’t know what the cause of it is.

    A few weeks ago I was reading some posters praising the manager for taking the players side in some dispute.

    Now I’m reading the silence has nowt to do with the players and is more due to a management mind set / lack of respect for the supporters.

    Does anybody know for certain why there is a wall of silence ?

    Has the pressure become too much for the manager and he cannot face the questions anymore.

  55. To my mind this is a perfect run up for Mayo to an important game:
    fans pissed off, local media antagonistic and equally pissed off, manager ‘under pressure’, injury worries galore, much talk of Galway forwards destroying Mayo, ochón, ochón, about our forwards or lack of them.

    Could we have the same scenario please the next time we’re in an All-Ireland final?

  56. Liked part of your post Pebblesmeller but not too enthralled by the rather harsh criticism of James Horan Everyone has an opinion and can quote statistics to back them. So take 2010 for example and defeats to Sligo and Longford. The good old days . Horan arrives and speaks of making Mayo consistently competitive. Certainly achieved that Won Connacht titles for fun, undefeated by Galway and A I Semi or Final every year. Not bad by 2010 standards . In fairness to Rochford despite no Connacht titles, got us to AI finals in 16 and 17. Horan returns gets upper hand v Galway, stops the Dubs march for 7. Yes losing to Tyrone last year left a sour taste and led to lots of criticism for JH 4 weeks after he was lauded to the high heavens for defeat of Dublin .Now he won’t tell us who is injured.Why should he? Why should he tell Galway about our problems Good old P Joyce hasn’t told us too much about Galway or injuries etc. I don’t think any Mayo management has taken our supporters for granted. Their job is to prepare the team as well as possible.Supporters as the name suggests support the players who represent our county. Supporter can choose to attend or not attend matches, can choose to contribute financially or not but I don’t think they have a right to know everything that’s going on in the panel , at training etc We all know that there is an injury crisis at the moment.Telling Galway who exactly will be missing does not make much sense to me. It’s a real pity about the injuries as indeed it was last year minus Cillian and a not fully fit Oisin in the final. I would think if the year doesn’t go too well JH could call it a day. New management will come in and the quest will continue as it has for 70 years

  57. Genuine question to all – would you rather know everything about the set-up including injuries meaning the opposition also know and can tailor their tactics appropriately? Or all outside the camp including opposition know nothing until game day?

    I for one like this new approach, time to Will tell I suppose but the former hasn’t worked for 70 years (it alone is not the reason we have not crossed the line but 2016 replay is a great example of where fans knew too much ahead of throw in and word spread like wildfire to you can bet the opposition also)

  58. Personally I don’t care about hearing the usual clichés trotted out by James Horan pre game. I’ve heard enough of those interviews down the years. There has been no update from Joyce either despite 2 of their starting team apparently being injured.

    One thing I never understood is how secretive they are about who’s on the extended panel. Everyone can see the lads who are playing, so what’s the issue telling us if Conor McStay, Connell Dempsey, Pearse Rutledge etc are on it too? It’s hardly a state secret.

  59. My impression is that Jason Doherty needs more time to recover and prepare before a game these days. He can look back to his best on a given day, but the knees might not make it for two weeks in a row.

    Doherty for 50 min and Cillian to come on.

  60. It’s not ideal from a supporters perspective but no sense in gettin narky about it , perhaps it’s a ploy and we will have the likes of paddy back . Well if it works out that way and we go on to win Sunday , that will do for me . Nothing like a pint of four ways kilmovee pint of smitwicks after beating Galway , well apart from beating the rossies that is .

  61. Im nearly sick of my own handle here! If we just knew the squad it would be somethihg in the run up to championship. The PRO has to have the toughest gig in country with no information to give to media and the county secretary does all the talking to Michael Gallagher in mayo news. Some set up!

  62. I’ll say it again I can’t understand the complaining about not knowing who’s injured and who’s not. If we don’t know then galway don’t know. Leave them guessing and make it harder for them to plan anything.

  63. Sincere condolences to the Family, Friends and Club mates of the young Galway woman who tragically lost her life after playing a game of Camogie yesterday evening.. R I P.

  64. Agreed wide ball, even if horan speaks to the media it will simply be a regurgitation of bland statements. I find it quite amusing that people think intercounty managers and players speak candidly about their preparations. I actually find gaa interviews pointless exercises as players have pre-rehearsed statements – one of countless examples of the control the gaa exerts over individuals and its brainwashed members.

  65. Leantimes, may I add to that, sincere sympathy the the girls family at this tragic time, Puts everything else into perspective .

  66. Willie, the U20 final is being streamed live on Tg4 (youtube), and then deferred coverage on tg4s regular channel at 7.30pm.

  67. Im still reading the Mayo News! Regarding the function for retired players. The Chairman was at it but says ‘they have no knowledge of any funds raised as a result of the event’ and ‘any funds raised would not be coming the way of Mayo GAA’. Well why didnt he question where funds were going. It seems bizarre to say the least. Connaught Telegraph raise some questions also.

  68. Thanks, RP, that’s correct – the game is being streamed live on TG4’s YouTube channel and will be shown in full deferred on TG4 from 7.20pm. Because it’s being streamed on YouTube, I’ll embed the live stream here on the blog in case anyone wants to watch it from here.

  69. What a championship opener for Mayo and Galway really looking forward to this one.

    This is really hard to call but defences win championships as they say so I give Mayo the nod.

    Regarding updates on injured players etc, Yes it’s incredibly frustrating feeling like you are not being kept informed but I can understand the rational for it.
    However my gripe is the named team on the program if that’s a dummy team then the county should be fined.
    Peter Keane went 3 years without naming the subs which I always thought was highly insulting to the players and supporters.

  70. There are big expectations on this Sligo team with a big home support.
    Mayo should really go at them from the start and try to get some early scores to put Sligo on the back foot and put them under pressure.
    The last thing Mayo should do is sit back and invite Sligo on to them and give them early momentum.

  71. Mayo team
    Eugene Rooney, first high ball in and Comer gone.
    Mortimer, Cahill, Willie Loftus___to pick up Walsh
    Gardner, Nallen, Mick Higgins, westport for fear we get an 80 yard free at the end
    Midfield pat Fallon/LiamMcHale, kickouts straight down the middle
    Ciarán McDonald, Ted WEBB RIP, The last centre forward we had, Fitzmaurice for frees
    Mortimer, Willie McGee, Joe Corcoran

  72. In the under 20 betting (boylesports) Sligo opened as big as 3/1 and are now in as short as 15/8 . Mayo 4/7 now but opened at 3/1 .

  73. Horan is obviously trying to create a seige mentality amongst his team/squad…an ‘us against the world’ type outlook.

  74. I know people will think I’ve lost the plot here and I’m not sensitive so you’re welcome to blast away but could it actually be more beneficial to Mayo’s All-Ireland aspirations this year to actually lose to Galway, assuming of course that a number of key players are still out.

    Because if Kerry don’t slip up or get plagued by injuries then it’s highly likely that they will reach the All-Ireland final and if we were to progress through the direct route then we would face Kerry in the final and all things considered I think it would end in yet another unbearable loss.

    However, if we were to lose to Galway then we would have 6 weeks to get ready for Round 1 of the Qualifiers, a week later we would face a Provincial Final loser in Round 2, now I know people will say these games won’t be easy and that’s true, but do you think Roscommon will be easy in a Connacht Final (assuming they beat Sligo) or a team that has came through the qualifiers which we would face in the Quarter Finals, or that Kerry would be easy in a final, my point being that if you want to win an All-Ireland you must win the hard games as well, otherwise you are not good enough to begin with.

    But you need the luck of the draw as well of course and if we came through the above then the ideal draw for Mayo in the Quarter finals would be against the Leinster Champions because a win there would secure a fixture against Kerry in the semi-finals, the odds of getting the right draw in the QF are 3/1, not bad.

    And I’d give Mayo a better chance of beating Kerry in a semi-final than a final, that’s for sure.

    We’d go into the Final as favorites then and rightly so and if we blow another one, we may as well pack the whole thing in and start playing cricket.

    A loss to Galway will not be the end of the world at all and the Nestor Cup could very well end up being a poisoned chalice this year.

    Just a thought.

  75. @Viper A loss to Galway versus the qualifier route, was thinkng on it.
    Probably no difference.
    The loss might dampen down the positivity in the camp however.
    It is better to face Kerry earlier than with another match under their belt in a final.
    The big six week break to get everyone fit versus the need to risk players against Roscommon?

  76. @JP.

    You say ” The loss might dampen down the positivity in the camp however “.

    Where did the positivity come from ?
    With our track record, we could reach the AI final via any route, be 16 points ahead with two minutes left to play and I still don’t think we would be overly positive.

    We have no positivity issues to dampen down. We do have negativity issues, and maybe justifiably so, but if we don’t get some positivity, and fairly quick it could be a short championship.

    At a minimum, the panel need to be positive and fully believe in what they are doing.

  77. I should have added of course that by us going the Qualifier route we would also have a chance of drawing Kerry in the Quarter Finals, now this could also happen if we were to lose the Connacht Final and win the Round 2 qualifier game.

    We could still end up facing Kerry in the final even by us going the qualifier route but at least there is a chance of meeting them before that, something that is not possible going the direct route (unless Kerry end up in the qualifiers), unlikely.

  78. I would guess what @JP means @Revellino is the positivity gained if we were to beat Galway as opposed to the realization that lots would need to be worked on in the following 6 weeks and of course the benefit of hopefully getting injured players back.

    On top of that Mayo would then be completely under the radar, there wouldn’t be a word about them for six weeks.

  79. @Viper.
    With no disrespect meant towards Galway by the way, but if we are worried about getting carried away, if we were to beat Galway, a team that hasn’t lined out in an AI final in over two decades then we certainly are in deep deep trouble.

    I think I could name at least six teams that would expect to beat Galway if they were to meet them.

    Whatever way it has to happen, Horan has to get back to an AI final. And win it, if he’s able.

    His tenure surely can not be boiled down to how he did against Galway in 2022.

    Oh no.

    He’s too far down the garden path to be getting those types of pat’s on the back.

    It’s die dog or shite the lisence.

    You know, Kerry didn’t have to come out with any lame excuse like,
    Heavy blocks of training,
    An eye on the championship opener,
    Didn’t care about the league.

    No excuses needed from Kerry. They went out and won their league final.

    Are we really now saying that maybe the best start to the championship is to lose against Galway ?

    Best way forward ?

    Really ?

    One way or the other the AI final date is set.
    Whoever we have available and fit on that date should we reach it, ain’t goin to change.

    We need to beat Galway at the weekend, then
    Win Connacht
    and take on whoever is left standing.

    There’s no playing for time.
    Horan has to ensure now that we make it to the AI final and that he finishes the job this year.

    One way or the other.

  80. I don’t think anyone said we would get carried away by beating Galway to be fair @Revellino but I can predict right now that if we do beat Galway that there will be a sense of positivity among many but that’s not the same as getting carried away.

    Anyone who knows me knows that what I desire is a structure and a mindset that leads Mayo to winning All-Irelands on a fairly regular basis, I don’t want us to be someone else’s meal ticket all the time, yes it would be nice to win one now but what I want is long term sustainability and success.

    While many here talk about players and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what most people who follow team sports do, I like to start at the foundations and build from there, I take a more long term view because if we do not do that then the kids of today and their kids as well will go through the same mental torture of watching Mayo fall short.

    People will try to argue with me that Mayo want for nothing but yet they can’t take me for a walk around the state of the art Centre of Excellence, because it doesn’t exist.

    What Mayo have that most counties would give their right arm for is huge support generally, that’s not in question.

    The amount of money Mayo supporters have spent following the team in the last decade especially would build dozens of state of the art facilities and much more with it but there’s a feeling out there by many that these loyal supporters are being taken for granted.

    We are not at the same level as Kerry, even if we were playing with a full hand, so let’s first of all accept that fact and then work on how they can be beaten. Just because a team is “better” than you doesn’t mean that they cannot be beaten but you need a curveball to have any chance of doing that, can James Horan do that, nothing has convinced me that he can, but I hope he proves me wrong.

    My alternative path to the All-Ireland final is mainly based on the fact that we have and have had a significant amount of injuries and we should hopefully be in a better position personnel wise on the 4th of June, but the six weeks need to be used very wisely with regards to working on systems to take down the opposition.

    Kerry, assuming they don’t slip up, will have already won the Munster title by then.

    If we are to to have any chance beating Kerry then I feel it will be in a quarter-final or more so a semi-final and that’s another factor I’m taking into account regarding the alternative route.

    Because I would have zero confidence that we would beat Kerry in an All-Ireland final this year, in fact unless things take a dramatic turn it’s difficult to have confidence that we’d beat anyone in an All-Ireland final, if I being honest.

    We are supposed to learn from failure and not from success, have we though ?

    If you answer no to the above, then Mayo deserve to continue to fail on the big day and deserve no sympathy, because nobody shouted stop.

  81. @Revellino no one mentioned about getting carried away, it doesnt make for good debate if you try to stretch the logic of what others have posted.
    If we beat Galway versus if we lose there is obviously a differential in positivity.
    Now, leaving aside us hammering Galway or being hammered by Galway, the basic point being made is that mathematically a narrow win or narrow loss won’t change our All Ireland odds.
    I think mathematically around the same, Viper putting forward perhaps a few % more likely to win Sam off a narrow loss. The main factor being you are most likely meeting a Kerry team in their Croke Park pomp, with up to the semi final amount of games under their belt. A long odds match for us.
    Obviously if we get hammered we are pretty much done in my view. The team won’t return from that.

  82. I find it a little bemusing that so many want horan to update the faithful with critical details about his teams preparation and state of fitness are at for the upcoming clash with Galway. The less Joyce knows about James Horans players or more specifically their exact stages of rehabilitation or levels of fitness the more scenarios he has to plan for. This means more training strategies and training drills with specific attention to particular Mayo players that may be pulled from the hat in an unexpected or different approach from Horan as Joyce knows that their will be at least one curveball in the mix next Sunday.
    This is a local derby and it is potentially a fatal managerial shootout between both the two men at the reigns. Like all local derby’s one or two players from either side could catch fire and decide who grabs the bragging rights as nothing pisses one off more than losing to the noisy neighbours. I will watch this one as a neutral and I have no real preference as to who comes out on top. If Galway learn from the league final and get a little more organisation in their defence then I would lean towards a victory for them as they definitely have more firepower going forward than Mayo have but with the ingredient of “local derby” anything could happen. I am looking forward to seeing the new surface at McHale Park and the weather looks to be favourable so it should be a cracker once the will to win outweighs the fear of loss.
    Safe journey to all

  83. In Castlebar parlance we may be more inclined to have ‘gurch’ at Galway rather than a ‘gawk’ 🙂

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