Galway footballers capitulate in Castlebar

Under pressure:  Galway's Joe Bergin is chased down by Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and Donal Vaughan in the Connacht Senior Football championship semi-final at McHale Park, Castlebar, on Sunday.

Under pressure: Galway's Joe Bergin is chased down by Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and Donal Vaughan in the Connacht Senior Football championship semi-final at McHale Park, Castlebar, on Sunday.

Gloomy and dismal is the only way to describe the fare on offer last Sunday in McHale Park between Galway and Mayo in the Connacht senior football championship.

The whole mood of the day - the weather, the football, and the entry prices - was dark and very disappointing.

At least the Mayo team and supporters have the consolation of winning the game easily by 1-12 to 1-06 and are into the Connacht final, but even they will know they were involved in a stinker.

The first half was a really rancid, error-ridden affair that had more mistakes and unforced errors than you would expect to see at a poor club game. It brought a new meaning to “puke football”.

Both sides looked totally inept and, while the conditions were poor with a hard and slippery pitch and wind, that could not excuse the lack of ball control that most players exhibited.

The number of times in the game Galway turned over the ball when they were in possession was outrageous and some of their kick passing defied belief.

They had no cohesion, and when Mayo turned the screw in the second half, Galway could only muster one solitary point in 38 minutes.

The poor quality of Galway’s use of possession, their inability to keep the leather, and the lack of a discernable pattern to their play does beg the question: what type of stuff have they been doing in training for the last eight months?

Mayo, too, will have to improve if they want to beat Roscommon.

They kicked nine or 10 wides in the first half - some from poorly taken frees.

Galway beaten in diamond

The O’Shea brothers bossed midfield, Donal Vaughan controlled centre-back, and with Alan Dillon won a world of breaks - how Greg Higgins was nominated to pick him up and then left marking him for the full 70 minutes is beyond comprehension. Mayo had ample opportunities to put some day light between the sides.

In the first half Galway were almost completely dependent on frees from Cormac Bane to stay in touch. He hit 0-4 (3fs ) in that first half and looked Galway’s most potent attacker.

A lucky break allowed Paul Conroy to shoot a goal that pushed Galway into a 1-5 to 0-4 half-time lead they did not deserve.

Leading by four points, few could have foreseen their collapse in the second half and Mayo were 3/1 to win at half time.

James Horan’s men took over completely around the middle and their half-forwards of Kevin McLoughlin, Dillon, Andy Moran and Cillian O’Connor burned a hole through the Galway half-back line.

Mayo hit five points on the bounce and Galway’s lack of confidence from last year’s defeats to Sligo and Wexford, and relegation from division one this year, came back to haunt them.

They were losing all the key battles and debutant Mark Hehir found the going particularly difficult against the impressive Donal Vaughan.

Tomás Ó Flatharta finally swung the axe and Hehir went off, followed by the two men who had scored 1-04 for Galway in the first half - Bane and Conroy.

Explain this to me, please - your side is being riddled at midfield and the half back line is being completely overrun- so you take off your corner forward and full-forward?

It was completely understandable how Bane appeared so disgusted to be withdrawn.

Surely Conroy could have been relocated to wing-forward, pushing Bradshaw back to wing-back or centre-back. Eoin Concannon is an inside man, too, and does not fit the bill at wing-forward.

There were a lot more square pegs in round holes too. Finian Hanley is no midfielder and how Ó Flátharta and his selectors thought he would do a job there after seeing him in the position for the past few months is scary. If he was able to play at midfield, surely Salthill would play him in that position - it is not as if the club is overrun with young Jack O’Sheas.

To leave him there for the full game was embarrassing.

If Fionntán Ó Curraion was good enough to be a substitute, surely he was worth a run out.

Watching Diarmuid Blake, a recognised defender, and Bradshaw, a player who with the correct coaching and direction could be a top-class half back, ploughing around in the forwards when we needed scores was hard to watch.

And bringing on Michael Meehan, who had not played serious competitive football for well over a year, was desperation stuff.

Mayo fully deserving

When a team is outscored by 1-8 to 0-1 in the second half, it is fairly obvious which team deserved to go through to meet Roscommon.

James Horan will be pleased to have left their troubles against London in the mists of time and he can take many positives from last Sunday.

Alan Freeman scored 1-2 in the second half and took his goal coolly.

Andy Moran and Dillon were immense. Ronan McGarrity came on when Seamus O’ Shea tired and he hit a superb point. Competition is great sauce and the Mayo training sessions will be of a good standard over the coming weeks.

It is difficult to know how Galway will respond to this defeat, but the portents are not good.

They face Meath on Saturday week and the Royals, while no world beaters, will be buoyed by their 5-8 to 2-8 win over Louth.

Cian Ward, Graham Reilly, Paddy O’Rourke, Joe Sheridan and Shane O’Rourke will believe that they can rattle Galway and send them packing in Navan.

Based on last Sunday’s second-half collapse and some of the bizarre antics that went on after the humiliating defeat, it is hard to blame them.


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