New twist to age-old rivalry

Connacht final 2014

As most of you will already know, not only did we complete our first Connacht four-in-a-row since 1951 last Sunday but we also edged in front of the neighbours in terms of Connacht titles won. Although there’s some debate – which, as I discussed at some length last year, revolves around who won out in the province in 1902, 1903 and 1910 – there doesn’t seem to be any doubt but that we went into Sunday’s decider locked on 44 Connacht titles each and so we emerged from the fray one ahead.

Given this new turn in fortunes, I thought it might be worthwhile to graph the share-out of Connacht crown on a time-series basis. Not only would this provide some visceral pleasure to see us nip ahead right at the finish but it’d also show clearly who was on top when. The result is the chart below.

Mayo Galway Connacht titles chart

As you can see, there have been two long periods when we’ve both been top dog in the west. We held that position from the early part of the last century all the way up to 1973, with the Tribesmen holding the whip hand up until we caught them twelve months ago and then overtook them at 3.30pm last Sunday.

As the graph also shows, while both counties have enjoyed periods – such as the one we’re luxuriating in now – where a number of provincial titles have been racked up in quick succession, both of us have also had to endure fallow periods, at times of the longish variety. This particular lesson from history is that the good times or the bad times don’t tend to go on forever for either county.

So, even if we might now think that, on the basis of past trends, our new-found supremacy in Connacht should last for at least the next 40-50 years before the next crossover is reached, we all know that it’s not just in the financial world that past performance is no indication of future returns. All we can say at this particular point in time is that we’ll be a short head in front of them going into 2015 and so we should be aiming to keep this run going for as long as we can to open up some real daylight between us while the wind is still at our backs.

38 thoughts on “New twist to age-old rivalry

  1. Well done WJ that was very helpful and interesting. Your efforts are very much appreciated by the followers.

  2. Excellent piece Willie Joe – I think what is satisfying is that over the last 5 years we have really been top dogs; not just winning, but chewing them up and spitting them out. I think now they fear us, previously they always thought they could beat us, no matter what.

    The times series is also interesting in demonstrating that we were a good bit ahead in the 1950s; I hadn’t realised that. It’s only since the 1970s that Galway closed the gap and moved ahead, but not by much.

  3. Looking at the previous 4 in a rows, Mayo 1948/51 played in 3 AIFs winning 2. Galway 1963/66 played in 4 AIFs winning a 3 in a row. Roscommon 1977/80 played in 1 AIF and possibly came closest to beating the Kerry machine. I could be wrong but Galway have done a four in a row if not five 1956/60 winning a single AIF

  4. Excelling stuff – I like a good graph! What stood out for me at the weekend was the physical difference between the two teams, we are miles ahead in this regard. Even if we got back to a stage where both teams had roughly equal talent pools to choose from – and we’re a long way from that at the moment – on the current setups we’d still take them with a bit to spare because of our far more advanced strength and conditioning programme.

    I get the impression Galway (the team, management and supporters) still have not grasped any real understanding of how far they have fallen behind the top teams, it is difficult to consider them to be a serious football team any more. If you had two young lads of similar standard coming through the systems in the two counties today, the Mayo lad would

  5. …have a much better chance of fulfilling his potential. James Horan must take the bulk of the credit for creating that situation.

    But in terms of the Connacht championship I definitely think the big challenge coming our direction over the next few years will be from Roscommon rather than Galway.

  6. Very good Willie Joe, nice to see the balance swinging back in our favour. Would be good to see the remaining Connaught teams take a big scalp or two in the qualifiers. For far too long we have listened to assertions that competition in Connaught is not to the same standard as other provinces.. in a way trying to devalue the merit of winning the Nestor cup. Would be a good indication of where we’re at if Roscommon were to see off Armagh with their blanket defence and Galway I think will find it tough against Tipp.. All this of course is ok, so long as they don’t get in our way, that is

  7. I wouldnt be too quick to write off this Galway team Declan. They have some great players they just need to gel together. I reckon in next couple years they will be serious contenders for the nester cup . There was a lot of talk of Galway lads not being afraid of us but im not so sure i believe that either I believe they gave us too much respect.Will have great banter with my galway mates for while 🙂

  8. Tipp beating Galway would suit us as it increases our chances of playing tipp in the quarters rather than cork, if I am not mistaken?

  9. On another note – can anyone tell me how I can view full game? RTE, Setanta, online?

    My instructions for recording at home were not followed!

  10. Catcol – it should be still on the RTE player if you search for The Sunday Game. It was still there on Monday anyway.

  11. catcol, you can watch it on the sunday game live on rte player. if you are outside ireland, you can download a program called It will give you an irish ip address so you can watch rte player from outside of ireland.

  12. I wouldn’t be too quick to rule out either Galway or Rosdcommon to be honest. Remember, back in the Hyde, the Rossies gifted us 2 or 3 points from handy frees when we were struggling to get into the game. Sloppy tackling kept us in it. Then at the death instead of taking his point for a draw the Rossie forward went for goal and lost out. We were very very close to the qualifiers that evening. Galway have very good forwards and if Cummins had settled himself a little earlier in the first half, instead of rushing his shots, he could have had 4 points from play in that half alone.
    Let’s not get too cocky or disrespectful. It’s not in our nature. As the saying goes, “humility in victory, dignity in defeat”. Anyway, it’s all about the next game and ONLY the next game.

  13. A lot of Danny Cummins rushed shots were down to good mayo defending i thought after barrett had setelled in,although Ger Caff getting the run around of Conroy in the second half could be worrying when the likes of Paul Kerrigan, Goulding and Colm O neill are around they will punish.Saying that it wouldnt be a awful shock if Sligo were to beat Cork after all they were the “back door specialists” not that long ago.

  14. The fight back for the ground lost during the seventies and eighties only happened when JOM took over towards the end of the eighties. He raised our expectations with our first 2 in a row. By the time JM was done the old monkey was off the back. JH has taken us to a new level and is the best manager we ever had. We probably would not have our 45 titles had he not been in charge.

  15. Can anyone confirm that Mayo’s quarter final is on 3rd August? I can make it on Saturday, but not if it is on the Monday. Many thanks.

  16. It will be the lowest crowd for a q/f double header since it began. Cork Kerry and maybe Galway , worst supporters in the land

  17. Its great to be ahead of Galway in terms of the no. of Connacht titles won but to be 9-3 behind them in All-Ireland title wins is pretty sickening. Also when you think that Meath and Cork are on 7 titles, thats around the level we should be at. In all of the other roll of honour lists, we pretty much hold our own i.e. League titles (we are second on the list with Dublin on 11 titles), at U21 and Minor levels as well, we have a good record of All-Ireland title wins.

    In relation to where we are at, ahead of the quarter-finals, I was thinking today about the substitutions we made yesterday. I was thinking that after Michael Conroy came on, so far in our three matches, pretty much every player has got some game time. I suppose apart from Adam Gallagher and Gavin Duffy, most of the other players have played at some stage. The two young lads were tried against Roscommon and the two elder statesmen played against Galway. Barry Moran played against Galway, Jason Gibbons played in New York. Richie Feeney came on at half-time in New York while Mikey Sweeney came on against Roscommon. Enda Varley, Darren Coen and Brendan Harrison got game time against New York as did Kevin Keane. All three on the half-back line have played at wing back and at CHB, Lee Keegan was moved there at the beginning of the second half last Sunday. Aidan O’Shea has played at CHF and at midfield. Alan Freeman has played at full-forward as has Andy Moran. Tom Cunniffe has played corner back as has Chris Barrett. Kevin McLoughlin has played at no. 13 and at no. 10. You’d actually think that if you fed all of that data and all of the stats (in terms of how each player has performed in each situation) into a computer, that it would tell us what our ideal first 15 and 6 subs should be. I suppose apart from giving Barry Moran some game time at no. 14 and Tom Cunniffe some game time at no. 6, pretty much all other options have been tried so far.

  18. Very good post Hopesprings – was musing along similar lines; what’s been great is that management pick a team for a particular job – a lot of big men around the middle last Sunday to snuff out Galway’s giants and that included the big call of 4 changes for a Connacht final.

    So it’s not a case of our best 15, but our best for a particular test. Still think they could run the bench some more and not have Sweeney coming on for the final whistle, or Richie either.

  19. i’m now officially addicted to this site, its just wonderful, thank you so much WJ, its great to get the broader view, Being a Mayo supported its hard to be objective, passion gets in the way but lord we are lucky, heading to croker in august is now the norm, usual parking in maynooth or wherever, meet ups in the usual spots, those lads do us proud.#nothingbeatsbeinghere

  20. I thought it strange that only two regular defenders were named on the programme on Sunday. OK, Riichie Feeney could be drafted in there and I suppose Andy Moran could in an emergency. Partly it raises the idiocy of only naming 26 on the team list in the programme even though players outside that list can be used. Then 35 Mayo and 31 Galway players are listed in the pen pics section of the programme. in the minors only 24 players are listed and Mayo start two players who were not listed at all but who are wearing the shirts of players who are listed. [Cunniffe No 2 and Boylan No 24, if I am not mistaken]
    One gripe about Sunday’s arrangements. After the minor match I found myself in dire need of a drink and made my way to “shop” at the bacon factory entrance of the terrace after a battle only to find that they were totally out of any form of liquid. What kind of management could manage that? I thought Hyde Park was bad on catering!!! Surely there was a handsome profit to be made from selling water and other drinks on a day like Sunday? And water does not go ‘off’ if not used on the day. MacHale Park is a fine venue but that kind of incompetence does not do anything for it. Thankfully I did not have any children with me.

  21. Sligo haven’t a notion of beating cork. Expect johnny Reb to bounce back from their humiliating defeat and meet us in Croker. We need to be at our best to win that one. Cork are a serious attacking unit and have strength in midfield! I still remember 89, 93, 99 and they did us in around 02 aswell. We owe them a few beatings!

    Galway too could bounce back against a tipp side who are no longer a surprise element after winning in portlaoise.

    We need to tighten up in a big way. Our half backs were great going forward but the fact that Galway were still able to create so many scoring opportunities despite us lording midfield, is very concerning. If we allow that from now on its ‘goodnight to Mayo!’ What happens to us if we only break even in midfield against a better attacking team?

  22. I hav to correct u pj McManus but it was Liam oneill who changed mayo’s fortunes in 85

  23. Liam O’Neill led us to a good win in ’85 but the next two years were disasters, against two very poor teams. I think recall Galway getting an almighty hiding from Cork in, I think, 1987. And I do recall that 1987 was a brutally bad Connacht Final, the poorest standard from both teams I saw in forty years. Had we performed up to scratch in those years we would have been in a much better position to win an All Ireland than we were in ’89. By then some of our best players were going over the hill. I do not recall who was in charge in ’81 but an equally good case could be made for him to have changed our fortunes.

  24. Roger milla you are correct. A Tipp win does increase our chances of playing them – but only if Sligo beat cork. Then we will have an open draw as neither mayo or Kerry have faced Tipp or Sligo. A Galway win means we face cork or Sligo no matter what. Likewise, a cork victory sees us play them regardless of Tipp v Galway result!
    I must say Sligo at 9/1 with paddy power is tempting… Where is the game being played?? Cork were beyond dire against Kerry and a repeat of that display and they’ll be out. Bear in mind Tipp should have beaten them too..

    On a different note, anyone else reminded of Paul Galvin watching Jason Doherty play last weekend?? He was superb at attacking the breaking ball and chipped in with a couple of scores. Physically he has bulked up an awful lot since last year too. One of put most improved players this year.

  25. @mayonaze, Watching Brazil being humiliated by Germany that day brought back memories of that Sunday of ’93 in Croke Park for me.
    It was painful to be there and to have witnessed that. So yes, , we owe cork a good batin’ alright.

  26. HopeSpringsEternal, excellant summary of the players and positions. I rattled on last year and earlier this year about a “horses-for-courses” mentality and thus far this year we have shown that we have the players to play various styles of football. Another style will be needed in Croker.

  27. @ Mac’s left boot – All Round 4 qualifiers are always played at a neutral venue – in this case Tullamore.

  28. Oisin McConville’s comments on the Second Captains podcast this week are interesting. He’s on record as being a fan of this Mayo squad and indeed their manager. His take on our performances to date this Summer is quite simple – incremental improvement. In his opinion we’re moving forward with every game and there’s plenty of scope for further changes and improvement.

    His basic premise is this – last Summer we breezed through Connacht and annihilated Donegal. We never replicated that level of performance again. Now there’s no guarantee we’ll get to that level (and beyond) in Croker but that has to be the aim. What’s the point in replicating the exact approach that brought us so close but not ultimate success?

    I have to say the constant questioning of a manager that’s brought us to four provincial titles, two all Ireland finals and a staggering level of professionalism is becoming a little wearisome.

  29. 100% with you there Rock, and Oisin McConville’s analysis makes absolute sense. There is a a definite upward trend in the level of our performances so far, though naturally many of us still have concerns. But perhaps it’s simply a matter of Mayo not showing their hand too early.

    Listening to the team and management over the past couple of days and indeed, reading the analysis here, I’m starting to feel a bit more confident in what lies ahead and in the plans of the management and panel itself. It certainly seems like the mindset and the focus are right, and the timings appear to be tailored towards peaking when we need to. Evidence if it was ever needed that we are learning from past mistakes on one level at least. And there is no doubt that the hunger is there. Which makes the comments of Liam McHale and others last week look even more weak.

    Roll on three weeks – the worst part of the championship is the interminable breaks between games. Planning a trip to Clones on Sunday with some of the Donegal crew – it might help to scratch the itch …

  30. Brogans Boy With all due respect I have to disagree with on that. I believe AndyD has a more balanced version on the facts. Personally I am still struggling with the 2004 defeat. Fair play to you for supporting the parish and that. JOM changed the mindset in the practice ground and on the sideline. Remembering 86 and 87 just puts me in a bad mood.

  31. Biggest positive for me out of Sundays performance was that we seem to be still a fresh team and not a tired team which I feared after some of our performances this year . Also game time is being spread around the panel which only can be good if players are required to play on any given day . I know more game time could be given to certain panel members but always remember to hold your cards close to your chest . You may need to play them when the opposition has matched everything else you show .

  32. I think Brogan Boy has a point, though I’d agree that it was in John O’Mahony’s first tenure (building on his great U21 All-Ireland success back in 1983) that we really began to motor at national level once more. Liam O’Neill did, however, do much to point us in the right direction and a fair few of his 1985 team were still on board in 1989. The loss to Roscommon in 1986 can, in part, be put down to bad luck with the significant injury list we had that day but the ’87 one to Galway was, I’d agree, a hugely disappointing one.

  33. Thanks catcol and Pebblesmeller, as ye said, we seem to be operating a “horses-for-courses” policy this year, which is great to see. I’d also agree that it would be better to see us give our bench a run out much earlier in games. A couple of times in the Galway game we went 9 points up and you would have thought that would have been the ideal time to bring on Mikey Sweeney or Richie Feeney. You’d just really hope that we can stay as close to injury free as possible for the rest of the season. The competition for places should be intense for the quarter-final game. The first 15 line-up for the next game will be very interesting indeed.

  34. Galway actually drew with Cork in the all ireland semi in 87′. One of Larry Tompkins last minute equalisers, if I recall correctly before beating Galway in the replay.

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