I alluded the other day to that supposed fierce rivalry that exists between Kerry and Dublin. You know the one – where Kerry are just aching to avenge their most recent defeat at the hands of the Dubs … back in 1977. Rivalry my hole – that’s ancient history, which makes this a history book.
If it’s a proper rivalry you’re looking for, then Mayo v Galway is the real deal. I’ve just been perusing the results of our meetings over the last fifteen years (which is as far as my Results Archive currently stretches) and the stats that pop out are in no way surprising. We’ve met them seventeen times in that period, eleven times in the Connacht championship and five in the league, and, taking both league and championship together, we’re a short head in front – we’ve won eight, they’ve won seven and we’ve drawn two. However, in the championship, they’re slightly ahead, with six wins to our five. Conversely, we hold the edge in the league, with three wins to their solitary one and two drawn.
The only eyebrow-raising finding was that, over the period 1993-2007, there were three years – 1993, 1994 and 2000 – when we didn’t meet at all. We were both on a downward trajectory in the early nineties, I suppose, but it’s still surprising that we managed to avoid them two years on the trot back then. We made up for it in 1995, however, when we clashed three times – in the league that Spring (when we were both in Division 2), in the Connacht final and again in the league that Autumn, by which time we were both slumming it in Division 3.
This is likely to be the third year on the trot where a league meeting will presage a Connacht championship showdown (with due apologies to any Magpies or Sheepstealers who might take umbrage at being taken for granted in such an assumption). Over the past two years, an odd kind of choreography has developed, with what looks like a Buggins’ turn approach to the Connacht title (this year it’s Castlebar so it’s our turn) and where success in Connacht appears to be dependent on losing the league clash earlier this year.
So, in 2006, they won that bad-tempered league semi-final in Castlebar but we extracted quite delicious revenge in the Connacht final at the same venue that July, whereas last year we beat them in the league semi-final in Croker (while I’m not normally one for conspiracy theories, I’m now more or less convinced that Galway threw that one – an image remains in my mind of Padraig Joyce, with all the time in the world, carefully planting a few shots wide of the Hill 16 posts) only to get well and truly stuffed by them in Salthill the following month.
On that basis, we’re due to lose on Sunday but win in July. Hmmm … I’m not buying it: unlike last year, both counties will want to win this league encounter and there’s no scientific reasoning as to why a win in April should cost you one in July. Having said that, of course, if we lose on Sunday, it won’t stop us from pointing to the stats and looking forward to happy days come Summer.
No team announcement yet but there’s a good article about the match by Martin Breheny in today’s Indo that’s worth a look. Whatever about that eejit in the Times, Martin Breheny – solid GAA pro that he is – knows a proper rivalry when he sees one.