Since 2016 Galway have played Mayo on seven occasions, winning all seven - three in the championship, two in the national league, and two in the FBD league. And on Saturday evening, Galway continued the recent domination of their old rivals with a 1-11 to 0-12 win in McHale Park to make it their sixth in a row.
Galway, having succumbed to Kerry when a man down, turned around in Castlebar and went from two points ahead (0-5 to 0-3 ) to six points while playing with 13 men after Barry McHugh and Michael Daly were black carded.
The gale force wind in their favour helped, but having a numerical disadvantage is always mentally tough, as well as physically demanding, no matter the conditions.
However, Galway set themselves up well in defence while leaving Danny Cummins up front, and during the 10 minutes, they forced Mayo to kick four wides, while only conceding one free.
At the other end, a long ball to Cummins, followed by an inch perfect pass from Antáine O Laoi, allowed Heaney to provide Cummins again who palmed the ball into the back of the net, putting Walsh's men in front by 0-3 to 1-6.
Playing against the wind in the second half was always going to be a different story. And with the half-time score 1-7 to 0-3 in Galway's favour, Mayo were never going to give up. However Galway pressed Mayo tightly near the scoring zone, forcing their rivals into some wayward shooting.
It took Mayo nearly 30 minutes to come back within a point and this is when Galway’s mental strength showed strongest. The Tribesmen were not afraid to run with the ball, and this tactic drew three frees for Shane Walsh. He duly obliged and Galway were four ahead before Mayo kicked two late points in injury time.
One more league point will confirm Galway’s position in division one for 2020 and that will be seen as another successful campaign. Overall, with Danny Cummins starting his first league game in two years and putting 1-2 to his name, the performances of the O Laoi , Eamonn Brannigan’s first slice of game time in 2019, and a fully fit Michael Daly, ensure this Galway attack is not short on talent.
The performances of these attacking players, along with newcomer John Daly and many more, will give Kevin Walsh a much-wanted selection headache when Paul Conroy, Damien Comer, Adrian Varley, Cillian McDaid and Declan Kyne return from injury.
Add in the return of the Corofin contingent in three weeks’ time, and it will be difficult for management to select a starting team for their championship opener in Ruislip on the May Bank Holiday weekend.
However, it is a good headache for Kevin Walsh and his selectors, who will be hoping this team can continue that upward curve throughout the rest of 2019.
Scores for Galway: Danny Cummins 1-2 (0-1m ), Shane Walsh 0-5 (0-5f ), Antaine Ó Laoi 0-2, Michael Daly 0-1, Johnny Heaney 0-1.
Scores for Mayo: Jason Doherty 0-7 (0-6f ), Matthew Ruane 0-1, Andy Moran 0-1 (0-1m ), Darren Coen 0-1, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1, Donal Vaughan 0-1.
Galway: Ruairi Lavelle, Eoghan Kerin, Seán Andy O’Ceallaigh, David Wynne, Gary O’Donnell, John Daly, Johnny Heaney, Ciaran Duggan, Tom Flynn, Peter Cooke, Michael Daly, Barry McHugh, Antaine O Laoi, Shane Walsh, Danny Cummins. Subs: Finian O Laoi for Flynn, Gareth Bradshaw for McHugh, Eamonn Brannigan for Cummins, Padraic Cunningham for A O’Laoi
Mayo:David Clarke, Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Stephen Coen, Matthew Ruane, Donal Vaughan, Fionn McDonagh, Aiden O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor, James Durcan, Darren Coen, Jason Doherty. Subs: Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore ) for Durcan, Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen ) for Stephen Coen, Brian Reape (Moy Davitts ) for McLoughlin.