Mayo next up for Galway in Connacht semi-final

The only thing that really mattered last Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon was that Galway won and they left  injury free and with no red cards.

They did that, winning by double scores, 1-13 to 0-8, without playing particularly well and in a game that never really took off or got the pulses racing. 

The players are back with their clubs for the club championship games this weekend and a break from the intercounty routine can be a  pleasant change. It can be intense at county level, and the routine can become wearying,  and I always found it great to get back and train and have a game with your clubmates.

One major positive from last weekend is that the entire county panel and management team will know they need to improve enormously on what they have produced thus far in the championship if they are to take down Mayo on June 14 in Pearse Stadium.

It will take an impressive performance by Kevin Walsh's players to reverse what has been one-way traffic for the past four or five years.

Mayo beat Galway comprehensively last July by 3-14 to 0-16 in the Connacht final in McHale Park, and the last time the green and red hordes rambled into Salthill for a championship game (2013 ) they ripped Galway apart, before Marty Duffy (Sligo ) mercifully blew up the game with Mayo leading by 4-16 to 0-11.

That is some ground to make up. It can be done, hopefully, but a display like last Sunday's definitely will  not do the trick.

Manager Kevin Walsh was honest in his appraisal of his team's performance.

“It’s very fair to say that won’t be good enough against Mayo. There was a lot of bad handling, a lot of near misses, but you will have that in these kind of fixtures. We just wanted to go to Leitrim and get the job done and head into the Mayo game."

If Galway are to put it up to Mayo, they will need to make more scoring chances, and be more efficient with those opportunities. And they will need a better scoring return from their half-forward line.

Galway conceded a host of frees last weekend too and they will have to work on their discipline in the tackle over the coming few weeks. They conceded 41 frees and, in the second-half alone, they halted play 28 times compared with six times for the home side.

It is good and a positive development that Galway are getting a lot of tackles in, but they will need to work on their ability to make the tackles without conceding frees.

That is easier said than done, especially when  facing strong running and powerful opponents such as Aidan O'Shea, Lee Keegan, Kevin McLoughlin, Colm Boyle, Donal Vaughan and the terrific Keith Higgins, who are well able to break the tackle and keep going to win frees within kicking distance.

Anyway, it is two championship wins out of two, and Galway have three weeks to prepare for their championship acid test.

Few people or pundits will give them much chance of taking out the four-in-a-row Connacht champions, but that can be a genuine motivation to drive the Galway players on.

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