Despite being bitterly disappointed like many other Galway people by our defeat to Mayo on Sunday, and the manner of it, it must be acknowledged that the better team won.
Galway could have snuck a draw, and perhaps if we had won Kenneth O’Malley’s last kick-out, an unlikely win, but that victory would have been more to do with Mayo trying to “mind the house” for the last 10 minutes rather than any supreme brilliance on Galway’s part.
For vast periods of the game Mayo looked more focused, fitter, better organised, and in control. After 25 minutes they led by 1-06 to 0-3 and were in cruise mode. Only for the point-taking of recalled Nicky Joyce (0-5 ) in that first half, we would have been in dire straits.
Galway’s problem was that they needed to come out of the traps like greyhounds after the break, full of intensity, work-rate, and zest to rein in Mayo’s five-point advantage. Instead Gareth Bradshaw gifted Conor Mortimer a point from a horribly taken side-line and the red and green went six to the good. Galway shot a few wides at that stage from Padraig Joyce, Paul Conroy and Sean Armstrong and the wind seemed to go out of their sails a bit. And it was left to a few pointed frees from Nicky Joyce and Michael Meehan to give us any hope.
That appeared to be quashed when well known Michael Jackson devotee - Conor Mortimer - thrilled the Mayo supporters with a quick 1-1, with the goal being set up by team captain Trevor Mortimer, who got by Finian Hanley far too easily.
It was asking too much to make up a seven-point deficit in six or seven minutes and despite Michael Meehan’s superbly taken late goal, it would have been daylight robbery if Galway had won the tie.
Fair play to Peadar Gardiner for his tactical awareness, ambition, and the quality with which he slotted over the winning point, it was a terrific score and one worthy of winning any game.
Of course it is fair to ask, who the hell was meant to be picking him up at that stage? Or did it not occur to the Galway players that the free was too far out to be scored directly and that, just perhaps, Mayo might go short.