Looking ahead to the Galway game

April isn’t yet over but this year’s Connacht final – which, once again, pits us against near neighbours Galway – is on in six days from now. Even two years in, this new Championship calendar takes more than a bit of getting used to.

Sunday’s Nestor Cup decider – our first such meeting with Galway since the Croke Park Covid-era Connacht final of 2021 – takes place at Pearse Stadium. While we beat them there behind closed doors in the 2020 provincial final you have to go as far back as 2009 – the day of ‘RIP Micheal Jackson’ and Peadar Gardiner’s late, late winning point – for the last time we contested a Connacht final against them at the venue.

Sunday’s match throws in at 4pm. Meath’s David Gough is the ref and it’s live on RTÉ, with Midwest also providing live radio commentary.

Our most recent Championship meeting with Galway took place, of course, in Salthill last summer. The Tribesmen weren’t long after claiming back-to-back Connacht titles but, like us, had stumbled in the All-Ireland group stage, with the pair of us ending up in a preliminary quarter-final which neither of us wanted but which only one of us would survive.

We made it through that day, just about, with Galway left to mourn – and Padraic Joyce quick to come up with his latest excuse for – what felt like a premature Championship exit. Our satisfaction, meanwhile, at ending their Championship run, for the fourth time since 2019, was short-lived, as we got comprehensively hosed by Dublin in the quarter-final the weekend after.

Then an age passed before this year’s National League began, with a rematch at Pearse Stadium in the first round. Galway were well off the pace that late January afternoon, Eoghan McLaughlin blasted a rasper to the net and Fergal Boland excelled on his recall to the county colours as we won by five points.

The Tribesmen – already hit badly with injuries – were marked down as possible relegation candidates after that opening round loss. A low-scoring draw away to Roscommon and a morale-boosting one-point win against Tyrone up in Omagh, however, quickly lessened those concerns.

Like ourselves, Galway mixed the good with the bad in Division One this year. They followed up that Tyrone win with a six-point loss in Salthill against Derry but then went up to Clones and inflicted a seven-point defeat on Monaghan.

With Dublin and Kerry left to play, the spectre of relegation loomed anew for the Tribesmen. As events transpired, however, Monaghan and Roscommon lost their final two games and so Galway’s eight-point defeat to the Dubs followed by a two-point loss to Kerry didn’t matter. They finished sixth in Division One, surviving on five points.

Like ourselves, Galway began their Connacht campaign this year overseas. Earlier the same day that we played New York over in Gaelic Park, they were thumping London by 5-21 to 0-9 at McGovern Park in Ruislip.

That performance was impressive – much more so than our more laboured win in the Bronx – but their semi-final win over Sligo at Markievicz Park the weekend before last was anything but. The Magpies led in that game all the way until injury time when a Rob Finnerty goal gifted the visitors a 1-13 to 0-14 win they scarcely deserved.

Photo: Irish Times (Inpho)

But, regardless of that underwhleming performance, it’s still the case that a Mayo/Galway Connacht final resides within its own unique ecosystem. For whatever it matters we’re narrow favourites to win on Sunday but in reality it’s difficult to view this Nestor Cup decider as anything other than a 50:50 contest. As it so often is when we square up against each other.

So, then, when we face off once more on Sunday, which of us will emerge with the silverware and, with it, a place as a top seed in the forthcoming group stage? Let’s end with a vote on that question, which is a binary one, as it’s winner-take-all on the day. Right, have at it.

Will we beat Galway?

  • Yes (74%, 647 Votes)
  • No (26%, 223 Votes)

Total Voters: 870

Loading ... Loading ...

31 thoughts on “Looking ahead to the Galway game

  1. Really is 50/50. Both teams with indifferent league form, both teams handing out beatings to the exiles and both teams pretty unimpressive in semi final wins (albeit Galway being particularly unimpressive).
    Very hard to call a winner on it. Feel Galway have more room for improvement, so I’m tipping a 4 point win for them. Hope I’m wrong, otherwise the five hour traffic jam in Salthill will be a sore one!

  2. I feel we will be really up for this hard playing Galway at home for sure but even with some of galways players back from injury we are in a better place I feel.

    Mad that we haven’t been in connacht final in a couple of years.

    Mcstay& the guys won’t want to be loosing this one they will go hell for leather for it and give it their all.

    Time to take the connacht crown from Galway we can’t be letting them win it 3 years in a row.

    Hope there’s plenty of green & red in pearse stadium..
    It’ll be a total dogfight as always..

    A win here would be massive 1seeds and such a boost of Confidence..

    Mayo by 3 or 4!

  3. @JR I do have this feeling that the winner of connacht will end up with derry in the group..

  4. Impossible to call who’ll win. Slightly worried by the law of averages, and after last year, Galway owe us one. Both Tyrone and Derry tough 3 seed teams, can we get Roscommon again?

  5. It’s a very hard one to call, because there are too many variables and unknowns. How match fit and sharp will Galway’s injury returnees be?, how much will each team improve?, will Mayo sort out their kick-out problems?, which of Mayo’s injury doubtfuls will be available, what Mayo will turn up etc,? I think it will be close and go down to the wire and it will probably come down to how we deal with the Shawl and how we cope with Galway’s danger men, especially Comer-keep him quiet and we are halfway there.

  6. Hard to call . I felt last year once Comer didn’t come out for the second half that was it..
    If we can curb Ryan we have a chance..
    But I’d fancy the overwhelming favourites Mayo

  7. Doesn’t matter what group we end up in afterwards, three of the four teams will still be in anyway.
    Match up with Comer will be crucial. We are well good enough to halt Galway’s gallop.

  8. It does matter ontheditch, as we found out last year. Top the group and you have a break before quarter final.
    Come second or third and you’re out the following weekend in a preliminary quarter final, and if you win that, you having the quarter final the following weekend – 3 weeks in a row at least.

  9. Very tough game to call, both managers will really want to win it, probably last cup either team can lift this year.
    Joyce needs to win more than Mcstay I think, and Joyce really need a win against Mayo.
    I dont like when Mayo are going in as favorites for a game like this, heavy favorite with alot of people, they dont do to well when they are expected to win a big game and theres isnt a whole alot of pressure on Galway after the Sligo performance. Its setup for a Galway win.
    Of course the weather will have an influence in Pearse, so hopefully the weather holds up and doesn’t ruin the game.
    Stupid the draw is before the provincial finals, adding pressure and distraction to the finals. if the Connacht winners are in a harder group than the loser, would they consider ‘resting’ players it could happen, but I do think both managers really want to win Connacht.
    Its better to go flat out now and win all games now, top the group and get your rest then, both Mayo and Galway will have learned that from last year, both undoing all the hard work in the last group game and that extra game is a killer for the quarters..

  10. The bookies don’t agree with that claim that we’re “overwhelming favourites”. We’re only marginally fancied with the handicap at +1 so it’s viewed as close to 50:50.

  11. Definitely a 50/50 game this and the reason most on here are picking Mayo is because we’re from Mayo. In a close one like this Galway fans will veer towards a Galway win because of their lineage.
    From the sidelines and without any inside knowledge of form and injuries it’s all guesswork and a narrow win either way or extra time and penalties wouldn’t come as a surprise.
    I suppose all we can hope for is some good news on the injury front and improvements in certain areas, mainly our kickout strategy and winning of primary and secondary possession around the middle.
    I don’t see either camp coming up with any outside-the-box gameplan but just trying to hone what they’ve been working on all year.
    Laid up this year and will miss my first championship clash with Galway in decades. Said before that it’s not a bad thing as I hate the venue and traffic chaos but now it’s approaching I’m so pissed off to be missing it. Hope everyone that can travel does so because these games don’t come around that often. Hand on heart I’m going for a single point Mayo win in regulation time.

  12. Is it this Tuesday or next Tuesday the draw is? Would seem illogical to have them ahead of the provincial finals, as the provincial loser could well end up with a more preferable group than the provincial winner, depending on the luck of the draw. All pot 3 teams are strong then in pot 4 cavan look strong (although paddy lynch doing his acl has probably done for them).

    There is very likely to be at least 1 group of death.
    Watch now as Dublin end up in a group with Clare, Roscommon, Meath. Absolutely nailed on. ;-/

  13. Very well played @Tuamstar 🙂

    This should be a tight game. Mayo look a little steadier but hardly convincing. Galway have a lot of long-term injured players returning. Mayo will hope to have the same but difficult to tell how fit they are.

    I was shocked at how rudimentary the Mayo kickout was against Roscommon. We really need to tidy up the restarts this weekend.

    The Mayo 26 when it’s published will make very interesting reading.

  14. …as far as this Sunday goes I am very confident of a Mayo win,more so then I was against Rossies. Galway just don’t have the speed or the legs to stick with us imo. There is no raw pace in their team with McDaid out so I see us running the legs off them. Eoghan McL will torture Cein Darcy at wingback.

    Comer back will be a plus for them but think mcbrien is a natural matchup there.

    I think Mayo by 5 in pissing rain and wind (as always in Pearse stadium).

    Mayo 1-14 Galway 0-12

  15. If we have a full deck to play with I’d be confident of the win as there are to many questions marks over Galway. Form and fitness of key players, Maher (?) and McDaid probably out. Are Walshe, Comer, Finnerty at 100%. Even when fully fit Comer doesn’t see out 70mins.

    Paddy and Eoghan are key for a game like this with their speed. I think we are / should be better set up than the meeting last year (the first half defending was Kamikaze stuff). We just have more options this year especially in defence. Probably more of a barometer than the Ross game of where we are really at. I’ll go for no goal conceded and 5 / 6 point win…I might be underestimating Galway but I don’t think so

  16. @Supermac: Draw is on at 3pm today, illogical as it seems. They’d have to wait a fortnight to draw it otherwise as only Connacht & Munster play this weekend. (Surprised there isn’t a bigger backlash in Ulster/Leinster to the week on week first 2 games for Provisional Finalists. Imagine many haven’t spotted it yet)

    Minimum 1 group of death with Derry, at least a couple of really tough groups with any 2 of Donegal/Armagh/Galway/Mayo going to push a 1st seed hard and both Derry & Tyrone from 3rd seeds all within touching distance of the top 3, so 2 or 3 tough groups minimum depending how it goes.

    100% chance of a nasty 1st seed, 50% chance of a nasty 2nd seed and 50% chance of a nasty 3rd seed for me. With the less nasty options still tough games.

    Never bought the ‘lack of jeopardy’ chat last year & even more convinced after seeing how last year panned out. It’s finish 1st in the group or bust, so all on the line for every game. Not even a panel like Dublin’s can live with the demands of the pQF route IMHO.

  17. Mayo starting to move well, a lot of handling / fielding errors and not a huge number of wides Vs Rossies gives me hope we will be more clinical in Salthill. Galway staying very quiet and always dangerous in a CF.
    If Durcan and Cillian are at least in the 26 I think we will have enough firepower for the win.

  18. David Gough ref on Sunday. When defenders are defending one on one he tends to give some very handy frees for the slightest tug of the jersey.
    Yet when 3-4 defenders are around a forward they can get away with all kinds of pulling and dragging and more often than not he gives a free out for overcharging.
    But he is a good ref overall.

  19. @Tubberman only Mayo could beat Kerry in Killarney and then be beaten by Cork at a neutral venue.
    You cannot depend on Mayo.

  20. @ Southmayo Exile, Gough is head and shoulders the best ref in the country. Aido might even get some joy on Sunday. He is eagle eyed and normally has a good team with him as Umpires.

  21. Are all of Galway big guns fit to play on Sunday? Walsh, Comer, Tierney, McDaid, Kelly etc?

  22. @Pullhard: Walsh started against Sligo (came off relatively early while still chasing the game, so clearly not 100%), Comer came in against Sligo (won them the game) while Kelly has started the last couple of games (hasn’t looked 100% yet but would be improving week on week so would be expecting a big jump in potential performance for Sunday).

    We haven’t seen Tierney or McDaid recently, so hard to gauge where they might be (along with Culhane, who picked up a knock against London shortly after coming on and scoring 2 goals). You’d expect starting off the bench at the very best (/worst, depending on your POV) given the lack of sharpness/minutes but with leaders like those lads who knows if they might be thrown in at the deep end.

  23. There is lots of pressure on both managers this weekend but more-so on Joyce.

    1 win for him in 8 attempts at league and championship to beat Mayo as the Galway Inter county Senior Manager.

    Will it be 1 in 9 come Sunday afternoon ?

  24. This game is probably too close to call .Not really sure what improvements can be made in our midfield area.we don’t appear to have any consistent ball winners and as very often happens in salthill the conditions could be difficult.on the basis that Galway appear to have injuries I would go for a narrow mayo win but will be fascinating to see what our kickout strategy will be

  25. We should be well familiar with Goughs style of refereeing. Main thing he is consistent. I would have no issues being in a tough group, this team needs tough matches.
    There are of course valuable rewards for winning the group.
    Mayo a good bet but we’d need Sean Burke to verify that one.
    Hopefully no last minute injuries on rather team

  26. @Tony freeman yeah true I think it’s Joyce’s last chance this year of he doesn’t go far so maybe more pressure on him..

    But feel mcstay is also under massive pressure this year after the absolute flop last year in championship.. Big game either way.

    Also for us not to win a connacht in 3 years isn’t great as I said we can’t let Galway win it 3 years in a row!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *