Mayo in a different class to shambolic Galway

Galway corner back Gary Sweeney under pressure in action from the Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway corner back Gary Sweeney under pressure in action from the Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Strolling up Rockbarton Park last Sunday afternoon to Pearse Stadium, I met Bosco McDermott and Liam Sammon.

Two men who know what it is like to beat the likes of Kerry in All-Ireland finals, back when Galway were the kingpins of Gaelic football in the 1960s. And men who had the dedication and commitment to take on the senior managerial reins to try to bring significant success back to the county.

We all accepted it was going to be a really tough task to take on Mayo, who had been operating on a different level than we had for the past few seasons. However, none of us envisaged the horrific and shocking mauling our county team received a few hours later.

Sometimes there can be no excuses. When your team goes down by 4-16 to 0-11, with two players sent off for throwing cheap slaps, and barely a handful keep fighting the good fight until the final whistle, you have to put your hands up, hang your head with genuine mortification and humiliation and admit we were appallingly bad. Our team did not play with any organisation, any plan, any real passion, heart or conviction. We did not play like a team. We did not stand up and be counted like men as we were ripped apart. We let ourselves and our county down. If it had been a boxing bout, the white towel would have hit the canvas with 20 minutes to go.

Unfortunately that is the harsh reality for the players and the management team.

Yes, Mayo were very good; we were wretched.

No organisation. No fire. And no self-belief

Whatever modicum of belief the team had, it was gone by the time Mayo were handed on a silver platter three of the softest goals seen in inter-county championship for a long time.

All of the first-half goals came from Galway errors. How Mayo's debutant Cathal Carolan was allowed to waltz through for the first stab into Galway's maroon heart is anyone's guess. The other errors that led to Mayo leading by 3-09 to 0-6 at half time were almost too bizarre to comprehend.

The writing was on the wall earlier though when David Clarke was allowed to pick out the likes of Lee Keegan again and again with short kick-outs to give them the early impetus.

The game was over by the small whistle. And when team captain Gareth Bradshaw and Niall Coleman were sent off in the second half for peevishness, the game descended into a sad joke from a Galway perspective.

By the last quarter, as the Mayo supporters hollered and cheered to their heart's content as Alan Dillon came off and their talisman Andy Moran netted on his comeback, their side looked like Bayern Munich taking on the St Bernard's reserves.

Colossal gap in quality and experience

Mayo are an established division one side. And it showed. Their power, pace, conditioning, drive, and raw energy left Galway trailing badly in their wake.

It would be very easy to totally slam the Galway players and call them a disgrace to the county jersey. However that would be to miss the point. This is where Galway senior football is at currently - in the shadowlands and light years behind the top 12 or 14 sides in the country. None of those Galway players wanted to go out and get a 17-point tanking and the likes of Paul Conroy, Danny Cummins, Johnny Duane and Michael Meehan all battled, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Nobody who follows football in the county could be surprised by Galway losing. Antrim beat us last year. But the manner of it has left a lot of Galway supporters shell shocked.

Already the question being asked is, where do Galway go from here? Can we even muster a win in the qualifiers?

Guys from the u-21 successes of 2011 and 2013 like Colin Forde, Keith Kelly, Conor Doherty, Tom Flynn, Shane Walsh, Damien Comer, Ian Burke, Cathal Mulryan, James Shaughnessy Daithí Burke, Adrian Varley, Mark Hehir and Fiontán Ó Curraoin are a long way from being able to compete with top-class, well conditioned inter-county players, assuming they have the football to do so.

Aidan O' Shea was able to plough through Galway players at will and, while he is a beast of a man, all the Mayo players were able to win the close contact skirmishes. Anytime the Galway players went into the tackle, they were stripped of possession. There was only ever going to be one winner.

Everyone involved in Galway football at all levels has to take stock after last Sunday's horror show and ask themselves: How have we gone so far back at senior level? And more importantly: What are we going to do about it?



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