Retrospective on those five wins over Galway

Connacht final 2014 pre-match parade

It’s been a fair while since our championship season was defined by how we got on against the neighbours but, having played them down the years a grand total of 85 times in the championship since our first clash back in 1902, our frequent summer clashes against Galway certainly makes the fixture our greatest rivalry.

A proper rivalry it is too, with (by my count) 40 wins for us, 39 for them and 6 draws – which means that our five-in-a-row of wins over them since 2009 has also allowed us to overtake them (for now at least) on the head-to-head count. In addition, we’re currently one ahead of them (since last year) in terms of Connacht titles won, a lead we’ve got the chance to extend if we go on and complete the five-in-a-row of Nestor Cup titles on July 19th.

Having grown into young adulthood at a fairly bleak time for us in this rivalry – I was there in Tuam in 1982, Castlebar in ’83, Pearse Stadium in ’84 and Castlebar in ’87, Connacht finals we all lost to the Tribesmen – I can well remember when the shoe was firmly planted on the other foot. We’ve had good times since then, of course, but I missed out on much of this (I wasn’t at the 1989, 1997, 1999 or 2004 wins, although it was only for the first of these that I was living outside the country) so that when I was in MacHale Park to see us beating Galway in the 2006 Connacht final, it was only the second ever championship victory we’d claimed against them that I was there to see in the flesh.

After that dramatic win, of course, came the reverses of 2007 and 2008 so the lead-in to our current purple patch was one where they had the upper hand. Indeed, as we headed to Pearse Stadium in July 2009, they were aiming to complete a hat-trick of championship wins over us.

I’ve done match reports here on the site (and many of you have provided comments) on all five of the wins we’ve had over them since 2009. Seeing as Sunday’s win marked the completion of a feat we’d last achieved against the Tribesmen over a hundred years ago, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a ramble back over the five successes and to point you in the direction of what was being said on the site after each of them.

Micheál Jackson and Peadar Gardiner

MortimerConor_MichaelJacksonTribute

Photo: GAA.ie

The first of the five, the 2009 Connacht decider, was the closest run one of the lot. We went to Pearse Stadium seeking to end a 42-year ‘hoodoo’ (remember that?) with John O’Mahony bidding to record his first championship win over Galway since his return to the county management position three years previously, while Galway were looking to lower our colours for the third summer in a row.

The Twin Towers of Barry Moran and new kid on the block Aidan O’Shea were the focus of much talk in advance, following the demolition job they’d done on Roscommon in the semi-final a few weeks beforehand. It was substitute Conor Mortimer, however, who grabbed all the headlines, with his individualistic celebration after his palmed goal put us seven points up with less than ten minutes to play.  It was, though, the more understated Peadar Gardiner who swung the contest in our favour that day, thumping over an injury-time point to secure the win just after Michael Meehan had goaled dramatically for them at the other end.

The report I did on that 2009 win is here.

Out of the gloom

2011 Mayo Galway

Our paths didn’t cross in 2010, a year where we both lost to Sligo in Connacht, so it wasn’t until the following year that we got to renew acquaintances. James Horan was now in charge of us but his tenure had got off to a very rocky start in that year’s provincial championship, with a calamitous defeat to London in the opening round only averted thanks to some charitable refereeing and the boot of Andy Moran.

When Galway came to Castlebar for the semi-final a few weeks later, we were plagued with self-doubt about ourselves. By half-time on that miserably cold and wet afternoon those doubts had been amplified, with the new manager’s team floundering and Galway four points to the good. There was plenty to criticise at the break, not least our awful freetaking, but we came out in the second half with a much firmer resolve and a willingness to knuckle down and get the job done.

A flurry of points and an Alan Freeman goal in that second half saw us home by six points and while debutant Cillian O’Connor (who’d come off the bench in Ruislip in the opening round but started in this one) finished the day on just one point, that was the first and only time that he wasn’t our freetaker when playing senior championship for us.

My report on the 2011 semi-final win is here.

Ripping up the script

Galway Mayo final score

We didn’t meet in 2012, with Galway falling to a first ever Connacht championship defeat on home soil to Sligo. Because of this, it was the following May before we met the Tribesmen again, once more back in Pearse Stadium, this time in a preliminary round tie.

After our near-miss with Sam the previous September, there was a burning desire – eventually unrequited, for reasons I still can’t properly accept or understand – to go one better in ’13. We started against the Tribesmen like an express train and what we got to witness was slaughter on a scale that almost defied description.

The script going into this clash was all about the unique ecosystem surrounding this derby tie, how there was a never a kick of the ball between us and all that. It was a script the lads proceeded to rip to shreds as they recorded our biggest win over the Tribesmen in over a hundred years, a victory capped so memorably when Andy Moran came off the bench to apply the finishing touch with our fourth goal of the afternoon.

My attempt at chronicling what I saw that day is here.

Easy riders

Full-time

After what had occurred at Pearse Stadium the previous year, Galway were never going to let a defeat of the same proportions happen when we met at MacHale Park in last year’s Connacht final. This time they set up far more defensively but while this meant that it took us a bit longer to break them down, once the first goal went in before half-time we were well on our way to a fourth successive victory over them.

Two further goals followed after the break, as we strolled into the winners’ enclosure in a sun-washed MacHale Park pretty much at our ease. This Nestor Cup success was particularly sweet as it edged us one ahead of the Tribesmen in the provincial roll of honour.

My match report on this one is here.

High five

2015 final

Seeing as this one was only played last Sunday, there’s no need for a retrospective on it. In short, they fronted up in an overly aggressive and stop-us-at-any-cost manner but we always looked likely to prevail, even when they twice exploited our soft centre to claim two eminently preventable goals.

Ultimately, Aidan O’Shea’s trojan efforts combined with Cillian O’Connor’s dead-ball accuracy was enough to steer the team – now jointly managed by Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly –  to an historic fifth successive win over the home side. It was also our third win on the trot at Pearse Stadium – hoodoo, what hoodoo?

My take on last Sunday’s success is here.

That’s the lot: five very different wins secured in very different circumstances but the one thing in common with the lot of them is that they were all wins, all secured over our nearest and greatest rivals. Long may this positive streak against them continue.

22 thoughts on “Retrospective on those five wins over Galway

  1. Peader Gardiner’s point was one of the greatest I’ve seen, a real throw off the shackles and go for it in what was a super exciting game. If I recall Aido scored a fisted goal from corner forward as a young cub and took the left footed frees too. Meehan showed his greatness that day too. Was it also the year of Nicky Joyce?
    Others years may be more impressive but for pure excitement 2009 can’t be beaten.

  2. My memories go back to the early 60’s, 63 was the first one I think. We were trying to emerge from the doldrums in that era and there was heartbreak in ’66 before glorious redemption in ’67, also in Salthill. Tuam continued to hold the hoodoo tag until ’96 and since then we have been at least on an even keel against them. Since 2009 it has been like a different planet.

  3. Thanks for the recap WJ. It might only be in 20 years times that we will realise what we have at the moment is something very special. 20 years ago at times we couldn’t buy a win against teams we are now beating year in and year out. Its like the Irish Rugby team, at the moment they are considered one of the best teams in the World but not that long ago a win over Scotland was almost impossible to achieve. They like Mayo were second best for a no. of years before they finally got over the line and won a Grand Slam under new management. Even the Dubs, it took them to get to the standard of winning 6 Leinster titles in 7 years before they made the breakthrough at All-Ireland level in 2011. Maybe there is hope for us yet!

  4. While it being not as glamorous as the other victories, I’ll always remember in 2011 that we held them to one point in the second half, which was the start of many of what would be Horan’s excellent defensive days.

  5. I’ll never forget the point from Gardiner in 2009. Relations in the section of the crowd where I was situated had become more than tetchy and Meehan’s goal was the vent for an unbelievable amount of vitriol. Then Peadar blazed up the right hand side and floated a gem over, stemming the flow of abuse mid stream.

  6. Darragh O’Se pretty critical of Lundy in his article in the IT today. It’s a little too personal and pointed at one player for my liking.

  7. The game in 2011 was bizarre. I’ll never forget it. It was genuinely like a league game and the attendance, if I recall correctly, was pathetic!

    I love beating Galway!

  8. +1 MayoMark

    I think the attendance was only 10,000. It was the wettest, most depressing day weather-wise. I had to keep reminding myself that this was Mayo-Galway in championship. It was a world away from last Sunday.

  9. Ah yes Tuam 82. Will never forget leaving that awful place that day. We had to climb through a cattle mart to get into the place. What a desperate day. Followed as you say in 83, 84 and 87 with more disappointment. Looked like the gloom would last for ever. The boot is well and truly on the other foot now thank Christ. Long may it stay that way.

  10. +2 – it was the dirtiest day weather-wise I think I ever experienced at a championship game. It was as cold as March. The bizarre thing was that the day was fine and warm up here in Dublin and when we arrived back here at about 10pm that night it was about 10 degrees warmer than it had been in Castlebar that afternoon!

  11. Now that I think back on it, the low attendance was probably down to low expectations as much as anything. Our previous three championship games were the defeats to Sligo and Longford and the extra-time win in Ruislip.

  12. That’s true, Davy, and those low expectations didn’t lift much till that year’s All-Ireland semi-final. There was an embarrassingly small crowd in Croke Park for our quarter-final with Cork, though partly this was due to the usual zero support turning up for them.

  13. Lovely compilation Willy Joe. Makes nice reading and yes 2009 was the most exciting game when we did that Mayo thing of being 7 up and deciding to let the maroons have another go at us. I can still see Gardiner’s point and remember the relief of clinching a game that we almost threw away.

    We didn’t beat Galway in Tuam from 1951 to 1997 ( I know we took them in Salthill in 67 ) so it’s great that we have now won three away games on the trot in Salthill. It doesn’t have the same fortress feel that Tuam had and Mayo teams have no fear of going there now.

    I first saw Mayo beat Galway in the replayed Connacht final of 69. Back then they were both top class teams. The barren seventies and a few whippings in the eighties and nineties 82 and 95 stand out, should make us appreciate the five on the trot all the more. The Maroons are nice people to live among but as far as I’m concerned you can’t beat them often enough.

  14. INJURY UPDATE FROM CON TEL

    AIDAN O SHEA AND ALAN DILLON ARE MORE OR LESS OK.
    ANDY MORAN WAS TO HAVE MRI SCAN ON KNEE THIS AM.

  15. The thing that jumps out for me that day against cork in the 1/4 final was our defence there was no getting past Colm Boyle and Donal Vaughan and Kevin Mc loughlin played an absolute blinder!!! I was great entertainment for 2 French tourists that unknown to me were sitting in front and to the left of me after that unbelievable match he thanked me and wished my team well for the next one oh and the green and red belting around Croke park!!’ and I had been told the night before that Cork would beat us by how much they wanted ahh was a great day but no looking back roll on Game2 and being written off!!!

  16. Thanks for that WJ It is always great reading. One stands out for me Tuam 1997. We spent over fifty years talking about winning an AI as I grew up in this county, but we could not manage to beat an average team in Tuam over that period. I have very little respect for anything the Green and Red stood for before that date. JM changed our perspective that day and in doing so made us real contenders in the process. Every time Galway has lined out against Mayo since then they needed to bring their game face to the game and long may it continue.

  17. Hard to beat 2009 had my stag in Galway that weekend. Open top tour bus to salthill for match, appearance of micheal Jackson, peader Gardiner’s sublime winner then back over the border into Mayo for more pints and thoughts this could be out year…. C’est la vie

  18. Great compilation Willie Joe.

    Don’t forget also that Mayo pummelled Galway in league matches in this period also. Remember Johnno’s team demolishing Galway on Joe Kernan’s first outing as manager? That one gave great satisfaction, and we continued that under JH the following year before Galway were relegated.

    In fact it’s hard to remember that they were a division one team then, but much has changed since in the Div. one composition.

    Also, while we are on the weather topic, I have to disagree about Castlebar in 2011. It was bad and very bad, but the final in the Hyde topped it for cold, for rain, and for wind – a perfect storm so to speak. For the first time ever, I recall Mayo supporters just shuffling out of the ground afterwards – glad to get away – after we had won a Connacht title. Keith Duggan had a great piece about if afterwards, detailing the conditions and the ‘media facilities’ in the Hyde.

  19. I’ll take your word for it Catcol – I was away on holidays in sunny Italy when the final was played so I’ve no memories of the bad weather that day!

  20. Anyone remember 1981 victory against Galway in McHale Park. Willie Nally from Mayo Abbey put in a Master display from mid-field. First meaningful victory I ever witnessed for the Red and Green

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