Galway face Mayo in FBD final with renewed confidence

This Sunday Galway football manager Joe Kernan will find himself back on the sidelines in McHale Park, Castlebar, facing Mayo and John O’ Mahony in the FBD league final only two weeks after his team suffered a humiliating defeat in the first round of the national football league to the same outfit.

In the past a team might have had to wait 12 months to try to get a rattle against opposition that had given them a good trimming in a league match.

However the Galway panel, who were disgusted with their under-performance in that embarrassing defeat a forthnight ago, can redeem themselves to a certain degree this Sunday if they win the FBD final.

Mayo have done well in the first two rounds of the NFL, with a big win over Galway and a commendable victory over Tyrone in Healy Park, Omagh, last Sunday on a score-line of 1-12 to 1-11.

Mark Ronaldson was the star of the show for the green and red up front last weekend. He notched 1-06 (1 pen 2fs ) and was a constant threat for the Mayo side.

Defensively Donal Vaughan and Keith Higgins were to the fore and both Tom Parsons and Ronan McGarrity did some good things around the middle.

Galway will know from their last trip to McHale Park that they cannot concede as much possession around the central diamond or they will be on the back foot.

In that regard it was good to see Paul Conroy compete well and win a few kick-outs against Monaghan last weekend in Pearse Stadium. There was a much better balance to the Galway side last Sunday and the players upped their performances all over the field.

There was much greater urgency and focus throughout the side and that was typified by the superb covering and attacking sallies of Gareth Bradshaw, the tenacity of Donal O’Neill, and the entire full-forward line of Armstrong, Meehan and Joyce who scored a whopping 1-15 (10fs ) among them.

As has been pointed out on these pages previously, that trio must continue to lead the way on the scoring front if we are going to beat the better teams and it was good to see their tempo and work rate remain at a high level for the full 70 minutes.

Elsewhere Killererin’s Tomás Fahy worked hard at corner-back, although he would be much more at home on the wing, Diarmuid Blake put in a solid hour’s graft on his return, and Fiachra Breathnach would have been disappointed to be withdrawn after 40 minutes having scored 0-2 from play at that juncture.

Winning the FBD final has the carrot of a trip to New York next October for the players, and that, allied to Galway’s desire to erase the memory of their last implosion there, should ensure that next Sunday’s game will be well contested.

Former All Stars Conor Mortimer and Alan Dillon are back from their travels and they may see some game time to re-introduce themselves to county action.

Trying to predict a winner between these two sides is never easy, but Mayo are in a good run of form, are at home, and will believe they have the height and power to dominate around the middle. However nobody is expecting a mauling like they dished out on the first Sunday of the month.

It is good to see that some things don’t change, and as all Galway supporters will know from his successes with Galway in 1998 and 2001, John O’Mahony is not a man to give away anything to the opposition in the psychological stakes.

Speaking after his side’s success in Omagh last Sunday, the Mayo manager said: “It’s good to have four points on the board having used 20 or 21 players, the more immediate concern is the FBD league final next Sunday. Galway won today [against Monaghan] and it will be a totally different game from last weekend [when Mayo defeated Galway with ease]. They have had time to readjust and it will be a huge test of us in that regard.”


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