Aidan on Galway challenge

Aidan O'Shea

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.

22 thoughts on “Aidan on Galway challenge

  1. I thought was about to declare for Cavan when I seen the picture on top. Willie joe, I think theres plenty under 50s in mayo that have low confidence in the team too and I wonder if the panel members are affected by it or does all the hard training knock the doubt of them?
    Anyway, I don’t have a crystal ball but I think Mayo will beat Galway andRoscommon/Sligo this year again, just by dint of the physical and mental toughness they have built up since 2011, none of our neighbours have anywhere near that experience. If Mayo play like they can then there’s only one winner
    Great to see CoC back kicking a ball again, any word on Michael conroy? Or is he more long term?

  2. Interesting analysis from AOS. The fact is that any team playing against a blanket defence (and that’s what most top teams will be facing) should be taking a leaf out of how Donegal played against Tyrone.

    The point in the second half when there was a total of about 14 passes over an back across the field at pace to stretch the defence a little before the right man in McBrearty got the ball showed it can be done.

    But it is hard work and discipline to make sure not to be turned over in possession as then you are on a hiding to nothing on the quick counter.

  3. “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.”

    He’s very right, I’m amazed at some of the pessimism around the place

    We’re playing a mid table division 2 team who we hammered the last 2 years. You can point to all the intangibles in the world but all things said this would be a huge shock if we were to lose. And I’m struggling to remember the last time I was actually shocked with a Championship result in a provincial match

  4. We should expect a tougher challenge from Galway this year, but let’s be honest about it, it couldn’t be more timid than it has been for the last few years. Some Mayo supporters always “big-up” Galway much more than they should be. A few years ago it was their U21’s that were going to do us, and now it will be the Corofin element that will do us.
    Cillian or no Cillian, I said here previous, if we don’t beat Galway then we have no business going forward for later challenges. A mid-ranked division 2 team against a seasoned consistent division 1 team that, in case anyone has forgotten, has only been beaten in championship football by the eventual All Ireland champions, for each of the last 3 years. And one of them after an extra timed replay!!!
    Respect Galway, yes. Fear them, you’re having a laugh! Oh ye of little faith!
    Hon Mayo.

  5. Well said Pebblesmeller

    It’s interesting, if we were playing Laois you’d be pretty much lambasted out of it and called the most pessimistic man in the country for suggesting an upset

    And yet they’re pretty much on Galway’s level if not better

    It’d be like Dublin fearing Meath nowadays on “tradition”

    We play even near our best we should win, no major problems 🙂

    We play horrendously, we may lose. Our own fault! I’m happy to put faith in the lads tho

  6. I agree but I wish aidan would do his talking on the pitch instead of the media.

  7. I think the Galway mid-table division 2 side narrative might be a bit of a slight illusion. After all they had no Corofin players for most of the league. Had they had them they would probably have been promoted to division 1 alongside Roscommon. Granted Roscommon are probably getting hyped up far too much. And not forgetting Galway also beat two of the sides that finished ahead of them (Roscommon and Meath) and should have beaten the other promoted side, Down, as well in a game they completely dominated only to be caught out in the last few minutes. That said Mayo are justifiably favourites but sooner or later they will turn us over and sometimes it happens when you are not expecting it.

  8. In fairness Cait he didn’t exactly give much away in that interview and he does plenty of talking on the pitch – there is no way you can fault him on that.

    I’m very torn at the minute on how I feel about Mayo’s approach this year. On one hand it’s interesting to see the focus on refining our defensive structures (remember, oh, all of three years ago when our defence was the envy of the land?) however I can’t help feeling that with all this focus on responding to how other teams are playing, we are undermining our own strengths and confidence.

    Tactics are one thing, reworking your entire style of play to deal with hypothetical opponents is another. Noel Connelly says we have to play more defensively if we are to beat the Donegals and Tyrones of this world. All very well until we encounter a Dublin or a Kerry. Or indeed, a Roscommon. I can’t help wondering whether by openly admitting we are amending our own style at this point whether we are already conceding an advantage.

    But look, I am game deprived at the minute and have too much time on my hands. More than happy to be proved wrong in Salthill.

  9. All about balance Anne-Marie.

    Aidan has spoken previously about the leads we built up over the likes of Dublin in the 2013 final and against Kerry in the first game last year. He made the observation that Donegal would not have lost from those positions.

    We’ve put up some huge scores at times but have also conceded far too much against stronger opposition. It was very clear during the league that Keegan and Boyle weren’t venturing as far forward. I do agree that this tactic has inherent risks as we’ve relied pretty heavily on the return from our raiding defenders.

  10. @Cait
    Aidan does his talking on the field. You can’t ever question him on that.
    I agree that if we are changing out style of play we are undermining one of our best qualities. Our half back line. I would love to know how many frees on average did our half back line draw when they rampaged forward.
    Roll on the 14th

  11. Mayo play there best football when we play the Barcelona way all out attack! It seems to suit us the only down side is with this approach is leaving us very open at the back on the counter attack once our attack breaks down! This is what the management are probably trying to get a fine balance between!

  12. If memory serves me correctly it was not long ago many Mayo supporters blamed the marauding defender for the concession of soft goals or the full back line with no cover in front of them. A defenders primary role is to defend. Each defender is responsible for his opposite number. A defenders secondary role is to deliver accurate passes inside in a timely manner. Kerry spend much of their training time practicing this skill. If we were better at passing the ball inside to our forwards the forwards would flourish. Dublin and Kerry are a joy to watch in this regard. They have the skill to give an accurate timely pass inside again and again.

  13. – No surprise that AOS has restarted his media engagements. Harmless enough interview.
    – 1982 was the first big match i went too as a young one. Those were the days the corner forwards stood in the corners with their hands on their hips waiting for the ball to arrive at their feet, no tracking back then.
    Our FF line was lets say lacking fitness, Jimmy Keavney would have looked positively skinny beside them.
    – 1990 was another bugger of a day in Tuam we were too cocky and only started playing with a few minutes to go.
    – 1999 was a great day in Tuam ….plenty of great days against Galway and many disappointments.
    -Blanket defence takes time to perfect doubt if Galway have it perfected yet.
    – Tyrone had a mentor (Peter Donnelly i think) on the opposite side to the stand during our league game. His job was directing the blanket by telling his players when to move up, back and sideways and by how many yards, players to track. It was relentless for the entire match, maybe of use ?.

  14. @Mac

    Galway had the Corofin players last year and didn’t get promoted they were actually lucky to avoid relegation. Had Cavan,Laois at home when favourites for promotion this year but blew it. Galway were very ordinary against Leitrim a few weeks ago and they tried a defensive system that doesn’t suit them. Galway or Roscommon might topple Mayo but i can’t see it happening this year anyway the big match experience should be enough to see Mayo through to 5 in a row IMO.

  15. Kerry raise €650K in the States. They raised 500€K two years ago there. It goes to a 5€million training ground. They have already raised 4.7€ million. What ya think of that Mayo!!

  16. The team needs to be more defensive but cant afford to lose Keegan and Vaughan as attacking weapons. They create the extra man needed to break through the blanket defense.

    I would have a midfielder (Sheamus O Shea) drop back when Mayo attack as he only runs into traffic and gives away turnovers anyway. Safer move him into the half back line to plug the gaps left by Keegan.

  17. @Mac no disrespect or anything but you’re well and truly gone into into the “aunt, uncle, balls” school of analysis. “If they had this fella” and so on. The fact is they didn’t and they are a mid-table division 2 team based on fact

    I fully agree with Mayomagic here

  18. Also on this,

    “That said Mayo are justifiably favourites but sooner or later they will turn us over and sometimes it happens when you are not expecting it”

    I think the whole point is that plenty are expecting it!! Hence Aidan’s statement, and a few posters’ (including myself) bemusement

  19. Not a bad return on a trip to the Big Apple but galling to hear, when you think of what might have been last year.

    I really hope the days of the biscuit tins are consigned to history for once and for all.

  20. At this stage john it’s time to park your issues, honestly its getting too much! We are all well aware of the problems and some are trying to inflict change by doing, what your doing is just getting everyone in a negative mood!

  21. Where exactly does kerry s fundraising slot into a discussion on mayo v galway ?? Let them build a bloody ark for all i care …

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