Photo: Sportsfile (Brendan Moran)
There’s been hardly a peep out of anyone within the squad for the last few weeks but Aidan O’Shea broke cover yesterday when he did some media stuff at Croke Park for AIB’s launch of its sponsorship of the club and inter-county senior football championships.
There’s a piece with Aidan in today’s Irish Independent (here), where he talks about the upcoming clash with Galway on 14th June and where he also touches a bit on our playing style. He reckons that Galway will be more ‘streetwise’ when we encounter them in Salthill next month (well, let’s face it – they can hardly be any more naive than they were last year and the year before) and expects a more defensive approach from the Tribesmen when we face them in this year’s provincial semi-final. Evidence of Galway embracing such tactics was, by all accounts, there for all to see in their match against Leitrim and given our well documented problems when faced with blanket defending, it’s an obvious gameplan for Kevin Walsh to deploy in Salthill.
Aidan also muses on our own style of play and he says, with some justification, that a bit more defensiveness on our part over the last few years could have made all the difference in the hunt for Sam. While he says that we need to be “a bit more structured” in how we play this year, he doesn’t give a whole pile away about how the team might set out its stall. Which is exactly the kind of reticence you’d want to be seeing in a player speaking in public a few weeks before our first big test of the summer.
Interestingly, Aidan also points to a lack of confidence among our own supporters about facing Galway in the championship. On this, he says:
Whenever we play Galway, regardless of how well we are playing, they [Mayo supporters] think we are not going to win for some reason, there’s a lack of confidence among our supporters.
I think that could well be true of a certain generation – those of us the wrong side of fifty have scalded into our memories plenty of defeats at the hands of Galway, with that annihilation suffered in Tuam in 1982 probably the lowest point of the lot. Since the late Eighties we’ve more than held our own, though, and although they beat us five times in the championship in the Noughties, the last time they did so was back in 2008. Since then it’s been one-way traffic in our direction, the highpoint, of course, being that walloping we gave them the last time we played them at Pearse Stadium, in 2013.
I suppose the thing with Galway is that because we’ve played them so often and our head-to-head record against them is so even, we always know they’re going to get us at some point. And, God knows, they do owe us one at this stage.
Before I dash out the door, there’s another piece in today’s Indo that I need to point you towards, which relates to a motion put forward by the County Board which aimed to ensure that all future All-Ireland semi-final replays would be staged at HQ. This motion was considered recently by Central Council but was rejected, which I guess is no surprise. I know there’s an element of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted to this but you can’t fault the Board for at least trying to ensure that the Limerick debacle forced on us last August wouldn’t be repeated at some future point.