Five past meetings with Galway

Every now and then it hits me forcefully that the blog really has been in existence rather a long time. Since early 2007, in fact, and so this means that for matches against our major rivals, there’s a fair bit of source material here on the blog from matches going back quite a number of years.

As we await the release of match-day panel details for Sunday – with Galway’s announcement expected tonight and ours at some point in the morning – I thought it would be interesting to reach across time and look back on a few of the Championship encounters we’ve had with Galway for which I’ve written match reports here on the blog.

There are fourteen matches to choose from – eight of which we’ve won, six in which they came out on top – and, for the purposes of this piece, I’ve picked five. They’re not necessarily the all-time top ones from this era – for example, the Croke Park Connacht final of 2021 isn’t included – and they comprise a mixture of matches won (three) and lost (two) but I wanted to pick ones that either said something about the blog’s development or games that marked turning points in the rivalry. Here goes.

2007: first cut is a painful one

I had lofty ambitions when I started the blog in February 2007. John O’Mahony had just been appointed Mayo manager for the second time and, soft fool that I was, I believed that his return could be the missing ingredient that would finally shunt us gleefully over the line (although Johnno, to be fair, never made any claims that he would do so).

We got to a League final that spring and although we lost, it looked as if our curve was an upward one. Then we met Galway at Pearse Stadium in the first round of the Connacht Championship in late May and suffered a chastening reversal.

My match report for the blog on that one was written by someone still very much feeling his way into this genre. It was also a piece read by a tiny audience: the page-view count on the day the match was played came to 46 and you’ll notice no comments appear below the report. So this was me essentially sounding off rather shrilly to myself.

The criticisms made in the match report of the ref – Joe McQuillan: incredibly, he’s still on the roster today – are best described as uncharitable and my tone comes across a good deal mouthier than I hope it does today. There are no team details (though they’re all filed away in the results archive), there’s no MOTM poll and there’s even a quaint reference to GPRS (that came before 3G, never mind 4G or 5G, kids).

I won’t lie, I’m squirming here reading it. Have a look yourselves – it’s here.

2009: Gardiner seals it at the death

Two years on, my naïve hopes about being there to record our entrance to Nirvana had dulled. We’d lost again to Galway in the 2008 final and here we were again, back in Salthill, staring down the barrel of three Championship losses in a row to the neighbours.

On this July day, I finally got a performance to write about, on a day when we fielded the Twin Towers in the full-forward line, Conor Mortimer came off the bench to score a goal to put us seven up with ten to go, revealing his immortal “RIP Micheal Jackson” t-shirt in the score’s aftermath, we then promptly blew that match-winning lead (yes, we never seem to learn, do we?) before Peadar Gardiner snatched a dramatic winner and all was well with the world.

In my match report on this one, I was still crabbing about the ref – John Bannon this time – and my criticisms of the match venue couldn’t be accused of being too even-handed either. Mouthiness was still dominating the tone, as you can see here.

2013: Tribesmen thumped

Hands up who was in Tuam for the 1982 Connacht final?

Well, I was and it was, by some distance, the worst day following Mayo when facing Galway in the Championship. We lost by sixteen points that day, we were beaten out the proverbial gate on a humiliating afternoon for the county.

But it’s a long road that has no turning. Ten years ago, in James Horan’s third season in charge first time around, we went to Salthill and inflicted on Galway an absolutely unmerciful whipping, beating them by 17 points. It was bloody glorious.

I was fairly licking my chomps when I opened up the laptop to write the match report on this one. It all but wrote itself, in truth, so complete the performance had been and so total the destruction we’d visited on the neighbours.

The report reads, to my mind, closer in style to what I’d write now, but it’s far longer than match reports I pen now, which I tend to bash out rapidly as they’ve become more a commodity now compared to then. I see Michael Maye’s super photos also grace this report and I even snatched some video of Andy’s late goal. This one’s a keeper – it’s here.

2016: a rude reversal

We’d won Connacht five times in a row. We’d almost forgotten when we’d last been beaten by our provincial rivals. We rocked up to MacHale Park on a miserably drizzly June evening expecting more of the same but we were in for a shock and our first Championship defeat to Galway in eight years.

Things I remember from that night included the unbridled joy of the Galway supporters singing The Fields of Athenry on the pitch after the match was over, being asked by Galway fans outside the ground what date the Connacht final was on and wondering in return when we might expect to be playing our first qualifier game.

It was too, as I recall, the first time I met up with Rob at a match as we forged the first links between the blog and the podcast, a connection that has grown, involving Mike too, into a collective enterprise in the years since then.

My match report for the blog includes a post-match audio piece – I only discontinued doing these last year, as our Final Whistle shows on the podcast cover this ground far better – and the MOTM poll was now a feature too. The report’s only a short one – I had, if my memory serves me correctly, some drinking to do that night – but I think it captures the downbeat mood okay. It’s here.

2019: Carr’s rocket opens the road to victory

For most Mayo supporters, 2016 and 2017 are likely to be remembered fondly, albeit in a bittersweet way, as we came as close as we’ve ever done to reaching the Promised Land. We gave our all and more in both year’s finals and, even all these years on, I still cannot fully comprehend how we didn’t manage to come out on the right side of two deciders that were, essentially, as close as a coin-toss. Against a team already being lauded as the greatest of all time.

Which made our stumbling against Galway, not just in 2016 but in 2017 and 2018 as well, all the more difficult to comprehend. The Tribesmen were aiming to become a force in the game again but Kevin Walsh’s sole ambition – or so it appeared to us – was to beat Mayo. It was irksome in the extreme from our point of view that his team did just that three years on the trot in Connacht.

So, when we got paired with them in Round 4 of the qualifiers in 2019, there was almost an air of desperation to our need for a win. We hadn’t met them in Connacht that summer – Roscommon saw to that – but now we were facing them for the right to advance to the so-called Super 8s, in an all-or-nothing, knockout tie.

Everything was on the line that night in Limerick, a venue we approached with trepidation, given what had befallen us there against Kerry in 2014, not to mention the fact that, once again, Kevin Walsh was at the helm for them. But we had James Horan, whose record up till then against Galway was an impeccable one and, in a contest graced by a wonder goal from James Carr, we recorded our first Championship win over them in four years.

My match report, which, in style, more or less mirrors how I write them now, is here.

Here’s hoping I’ll be tapping out a report with similar sentiments on Sunday. One thing’s for sure, though, regardless of the result, I will be doing a match report here on the blog once it’s over.

37 thoughts on “Five past meetings with Galway

  1. Well done WJ, great to look back on those games with Galway, mostly there was always great rivalry with the neighbours, I remember Galway bet the crap out of Mayo on at least two occasions & I don’t mean in football, they hit the Mayo lads as if was their task for the game, just knock lumps out of innocent Mayo & they did, J McQuilan was dreadful on that day & he was woeful for games in other years also, ah well its time for our present team to do like the song says “let’s get physical ” on Sunday surely, they have to rough things up a bit, Up Mayo.

  2. I wish Leeroy said nothing about Shane Walsh, wait till you see he will have the game of his life Sunday and break our hearts

  3. Great post WJ. Always good to look back.

    I hope it’s just me but there’s a real air of the John O’Mahoney 2007 to 2010 period about our current set up. Lots of the older guard retired, a few still hanging around, lots of high potential young lads in the panel, and a high profile management ticket. A very good league in the first season with high hopes following for championship. The crash!!

    I think we’ve forgotten how inexperienced this team is. The keeper, the whole full back line, a new no. 6, and a new half forward line. Hope I’m wrong.

  4. WJ That’s absolutely brilliant. I especially enjoyed your 2007 report and then 2009 .Heart on sleeve reporting. Smiled at comments about McQuillan and Bannon and 100% in agreement about Salthill as a venue. No doubt the reports have changed with time but the service you provide to us is as great now as then. The previous article you commented about the mature level of debate which followed the Cork reversal on Sunday. That is credit to the posters but also the way you oversee the site. No doubt some of those in moderation write nasty and personal comments attacking all and sundry but unfortunately that is typical of society at the moment. The ones who complain about the lack of free speech etc are the very ones who if they got the opportunity would deny those who don’t agree with their views the very free speech they go on about. More power to you and your fantastic work. Hopefully you won’t be too busy on Sunday evening!!!!

  5. Glorydays:won’t take much now to break our hearts in fairness, and the muck we’ve been playing these past few months.

  6. In theory I think it’s a great idea, but given how poor the first team are at the moment, with so many passengers. holding Tommy, Eoghan, and Enda till the final 20 just isn’t an option. They have to be starters.

  7. I absolutely loved the the description of mcquillen as an incompetent fool and an ass and Coleman as a scut.your style of writing has certainly changed over the years Willie joe but now and again another one of these sort of reports would be great craic

  8. Haha I enjoyed the heart in the sleeve reporting. Be harder to get away with nowadays in the world of sharing everything but no harm to have some frank thoughts from time to time.

    Is Salthill that bad as a venue? Terrible for parking and traffic, and prone to the elements, something Catlebar is prone to also. Anyway I know the post was in 2009 or whenever but I don’t think you can complain about the terraces, health and safety weren’t allowing concrete seating to be constructed by then and it’s something we’ll see less and less of. The ground itself is nice, I prefer a terrace to concrete seating which tends to be too shallow in elevation. And no poles in front of the stand always a plus

    Anyway, the location is bad for getting in and out of but great otherwise. I’m hugely looking forward to my few pints with old college mates Saturday night, in probably the best city in the country. Albiet most of my foggy memories of it are from many moons ago. Nice walk out and a few more pints Sunday before home. It’s a pity the good weather hasn’t lasted, Salthill is glorious on a fine day, rare as they seem to be football wise. Incidentally I remember 2009 being a lovely day (and night thereafter!)

  9. You’re right Stephenite, it’s over stated as a bad venue. Amazing place to go before and after the game, you just have to make a day of it. It’s not like Croke Park is a handy venue.

  10. I would agree that salthill is an horrendous hole of a ground .I remember being there at the 2005 Connacht final on a ferociously hot day with a neighbour and his elderly father who had returned from working in England for the 1951 all Ireland final.He used to talk about Padraig carney running up the wing past him like it was yesterday.Anyway the place was dangerously overcrowded and the lack of seating is outrageous in this day and age where people of a certain age need to be able to sit down and logistically it’s a nightmare to access plus the fact that the elements always play a huge factor in games there at almost any time of the year.just isn’t fit for purpose

  11. The match report for the 2007 game was a great read Willie Joe, Dublin Joe featured in that game also.
    If I remember correctly didn’t Mayo get to the league final in 2007 v Donegal.
    Sometimes when we all expect a very close game it turns out differently.
    As much as I hope to see the players win v Galway I just have this feeling that it may go against us.
    We have seen this before and won the day.

  12. Will we ever see a result in this rivalry like 2013 again? Don’t think I can ever recall as satisfactory a mayo win. It sounds mad in hindsight but there was lots of pessimism doing the rounds in the lead up, we were thumped by Dublin in the league semi, had a few injury concerns and Galway were fresh off an under 21 win…but boy was it some massacre. Sadly dampened in the interim somewhat due to our awful final performance later that year. Just one of those days though that everything we touched turned to gold. Andy’s goal was one of those iconic moments

    I know ed mcgreal mentions Sunday as our worst performance since Longford, but 2016 v Galway has to be right up there. We were worse than useless that day but thankfully the Odyssey that followed that summer and the following one has since consigned it to history. Still can’t fathom that day at all

    2019 was sweet but in fairness Galway were a write off that year – absolutely decimated with injuries. Still think letting silke take the penalty was a crazy decision and probably actually cost them a comeback win

    2007 was a real WTF result aswell, Galway had an absolute shocker the year previous and lost several experienced players. We made an all ireland final the year previous, the league final a month previous, and optimism was brimming with Johnno back at the helm. Diarmuid Blake flattening McDonald just summed up that day.

    Would nearly give 2011, a mention over 2019 personally… A very, very important result that was probably the watershed moment in the Horan era. We had been taken to extra time by London in the previous game, after a dismal 2010. A loss in castlebar that day and we may not have gone on to have the same successful decade that we had

    It’s a pity we never met in a semi or even a final, here’s hoping for some time this decade

  13. Thanks WJ for this great place. My wife says I’m addicted to it and I can’t disagree. One thought hit me on Monday morning when I saw the Match reports. I was thinking, how in Gods name does he have the stomach to do this. I know I certainly wouldn’t have. I was actually depressed all day following the meltdown on Sunday.

  14. Loved the article @wilie Joe great thanks usual !

    @Nephin I was totally the same still a bit meh about it but sure I fully believe our guys will turn up with a bounce on Sunday and have been fuming all week. we always play our best when our backs are against the walls and are written off. sorry my optimism is probably driving people mad haha

    After the game on Sunday my dub mates go to me sure what’s knew with mayo they then said sure ye prob end up in semi still I said don’t jinx us haha but they said then still wouldn’t write mayo off at all even after the cork game these are hard core dub supporters to haha .

    keep the faith ha : )

  15. It’s an automatic thing at this stage, Nephin! I can’t say it’s a happy task when they lose but it’s a grand job the day after a win.

  16. It’s fairly strong words from Keegan in the era of everything being overly sanitised but it’s very hard to disagree with his sentiments

    I’m not convinced how fit Walsh actually is, but I’d be very fearful he’s due a massive game on Sunday, he’s a mercurial talent who you get the sense absolutely thrives on adversity

  17. @1985 But wasn’t the stand there for seating? Like I know it obviously wasn’t easy to get a ticket for it but it’s not like they should build a second stand, you’d be verging in white elephant territory then for a venue that gets no neutral games. Look at Pairc ui Caoimh now, they can’t get anyone to use the huge state of the art stadium because it’s beside the sea at one end of the country.

    Concrete benches were gone as an idea by the noughties. Tbh I’m waiting for the day when some over zealous health and safety officials tell Mayo GAA to take up the ones in McHale Park

  18. I can’t believe Keegan has come out with that statement in the lead up to this game. Christ above.

  19. No holding back in those early reports !!
    That Peader Gardiner point to win it after Meehans goal… jasus I was sickened that day.. spent it in the a bar in Boston…

  20. There is no way they know at this point if the two boys are fit
    I’d be inclined to think the fact they have gone so early that they are not
    One thing is for sure
    Whatever 15 they have named on a Thursday night will not start . So 2/3 will drop out
    I’ll bet any money at least one of those will be Kelly or comer

  21. Galway have consistently named there team on Thursdays after training all through championship..
    That I believe is our strongest team with Maher back ..
    Great height around the middle…
    On a side if Shane Walsh doesn’t try and make Lee Keegan eat his words on Sunday!!

  22. Yes Stephenite the stand was there for seating but only so many fit into the stand .I also remember the 2003 Connacht final when Stephen carolan I think missed a penalty for us but there was some confusion in the crowd as to whether or not it had gone over the bar and the only scoreboard in the ground was on the terracing behind us which we couldn’t see .A Galway lad beside me had to ring home to find out what the score was

  23. @Moose79 don’t think it was naive he was spot on Shane walsh has been way off form since last year he’s a pundit now so he’s gotta give honest reviews and that was pretty honest and just facts if you ask me .

  24. Will never forget Gardiner’s winner with the last kick of the game.

    We were getting visceral but harmless abuse from a few inebriated young lads from Galway after the goal. The change in that exchange within a few sweet seconds was remarkable!

    We tend to be on the opposite end of that scenario at the moment when we raise a green flag.

  25. Sure Keegan is there to give his honest opinion, but lets be honest there’s not a hope he’d come out with this about a Mayo player

    He was doubling down on it during a podcast he was on also

    It couldn’t be more set up now for Walsh to hit the lights out on Sunday which is sickening – he’s a mercurial player who thrives on the biggest stages, as opposed to run of the mill round robin games. Would have been better holding off opinions like this until next week really if Galway were eliminated

    Joe Brolly the clown wrote some absolute horseshite about Comer in advance of the Derry game last year, and he went out and bet them on his own. Stuff like this shouldn’t have a material impact but it clearly does

    Lost count of the amount of times O’Connor scored a hattrick after another “no marquee forwards” article was doing the rounds in the lead up

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