Footballers season begins with Galway v Mayo clash in Air Dome

Padraic Joyce begin his third season at the helm of the Galway footballers this coming Friday in the NUI Galway Connacht Air Dome.

The Tribesmen will be seeking a small slice of revenge for last year's Connacht final defeat to bitter rivals Mayo. Both teams received a bye to the semi-final of this FBD League, and the victors will face either Sligo or Roscommon in the final following Sligo’s entertaining 1-21 to 1-17 win over Leitrim on Monday night.

Throw-in for the intriguing pre-season clash of Galway versus Mayo is at 6pm, and the referee is John Gilmartin of Sligo.

The early throw is a direct impact of the most recent Government restrictions placed on indoor events, which also means the crowd will be limited to just 300 spectators.

Both sides are expected to experiment and give some fresh faces an opportunity to impress. There is also an expectation given the high number of Covid cases in the country over the Christmas period, that this is likely to affect the availability of some players to both squads. Also in Mayo’s case, they will be without their Knockmore contingent in the form of Kevin McLaughlin, Darren McHale and Aidan Orme.

From a Galway perspective it will be fascinating to see which individuals impressed manager Padraic Joyce during the club championship and will be given an opportunity on Friday evening. With no official squad announced yet, it is only left to speculate who will feature.

The players from Mountbellew-Moylough will have returned to the fold and should be available for selection, with an expectation there might be one or two more from the current county champions squad added to the county panel given how impressive they were during the club campaign. It is yet to be determined the results of the Connacht Council's investigation into allegations of abuse by players to the referee in their Connacht semi-final loss to Padraig Pearses last month.

It will also be the first time to see any imprint new coach Cian O’Neill will have had on the squad. Although he has had limited time with the players since training recommenced on December 8, it will be a point to note whether there are any little significant tweaks made to Galway’s playing style, or if there is any improvement in their kick-out strategy, which was cruelly exposed by Mayo in Croke Park last July.

In their last three meetings with Mayo in league and championship, Galway’s kick-out has been their biggest downfall. This is something to be rectified ahead of April’s championship showdown in Castlebar.

Coaching changes

In other Galway club news, Corofin have confirmed that former Salthill-Knocknacarra, Ballintubber and Tourlestrane manager Kevin Johnson has been ratified as their senior manager for 2022. This follows news that Kevin O’Brien was stepping down as manager following from Corofin’s county final loss to Mountbellew-Moylough. O’Brien leaves his post after six unprecedentedly successful years as manager.

And in a coaching coup for Salthill Knocknacarra John O'Mahony, the former All Ireland winning Galway football manager, is returning to the city to take over Salhtill Knocknacarra.

It is a statement signing from the Galway club which won an All Ireland crown in 2006.

Club chairman Alan Mulholland says the club is delighted "someone of John’s standing and record both within and outside Galway football" is willing to work with the club's football team.

O'Mahony is "looking forward to working with the club’s senior football team and the club in the coming season", he says.

"I will be working with the football committee to finalise the senior football management team over the coming days."

O’Mahony managed the Galway footballers to All Ireland honours in 1998 and 2001.


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