Padraic Joyce’s Galway side was left reeling on Sunday afternoon in Tuam Stadium following a hammering from their closest rivals Mayo in round six of the Allianz league.
In what is a massive blow to the team’s confidence ahead of a few huge weeks in the build-up to championship, Galway will need to dust themselves off and regroup for next Sunday’s clash with All-Ireland champions Dublin in Pearse Stadium at 2pm.
It was an underwhelming performance from Galway, particularly given the excitement heading into the game with some players' form in the club championship and Jim McGuinness’ presence at training. One thing is for sure, Padraic Joyce will have considerable thinking to do and will have learned much about some players following this embarrassing defeat.
Mayo started the game at a hundred miles an hour as Conor Loftus struck a point after 20 second. This was quickly followed by two frees from Cillian O’Connor before Liam Silke grabbed Galway’s first score.
When Aidan O’Shea palmed over the bar, there were some sighs of relief. It should have been a goal as the Galway defence appeared to be all over the shop.
Impressive Mayo debutant at centre forward, Mark Moran, kicked his first score. Left alone in the middle of the park, he sauntered forward to kick a sweet strike.
Already trailing by 0-05 to 0-01, Galway lost Damien Comer to a hamstring injury and Johnny Duane to an ankle problem, and Galway’s porous defence was once again breached as 20-years old Mark Moran was left all alone inside the ’21 metre line and was able to round Connor Gleeson and slot home.
Galway appeared to be mustering up some sort of comeback when Paul Conroy kicked two from play and Robert Finnerty pointed a placed ball before the game’s best player Moran kicked an astounding score from the sideline off his right foot.
As both sides traded blows for a period, Mayo soon snuffed any chance of a Galway comeback with a devastating 10 minutes before half-time, scoring 1-7 without reply. Paddy Durcan accounted for 1-1 of this, Cillian O’Connor 0-04, while Aidan O’Shea and Tommy Conroy notched a point apiece.
There would have been harsh words in the Galway dressing room at half-time and rightly so. They were miles off the pace with the defence at sixes and sevens, and marking and tracking seemingly non-existent.
The second half was a non-event as Mayo dictated the game at their pace and emptied the bench to offer Darren Coen and Ryan O’Donoghue a chance to impress. Mark Moran was central to all that was good from Mayo in the second half, displaying his range of passing, assisting Aidan O’Shea twice with two wonderfully floated cross-field balls, and picking out Conor Loftus through the eye of a needle for Mayo’s third goal.
Galway kept the score somewhat respectable in the second half as the game finished 3-23 to 0-17, but they will have to ask themselves serious questions. In the second quarter of the game, their kick-outs crumbled and so did their defence as Mayo capitalised fully. There appeared to be no leaders on the pitch as they allowed score after score against them with no game management evident whatsoever. There will be an inquest during the week and hopefully a much improved performance to come against the Dubs.