What must Galway do to stop Mayo?

Galway have not beaten Mayo since July 13, 2008 in championship football.

That is a long time without a win and the bookies do not think they can beat them this Saturday in McHale Park (7pm ) either.

The money men have put Galway at 4/1 to win the Connacht semi-final and they are giving them a five-point headstart (+5 ) in the handicap betting too.

Only three Galway players, Gary Sice, Gareth Bradshaw and midfielder Paul Conroy who saw action in 2008, will start on Saturday evening. Those men and others have taken enough beatings from Stephen Rochford's Mayo over the past seven years. So what must they and their colleagues do to produce a massive upset by 8.30pm on Saturday evening?

1 - Stop Aidan O' Shea

O'Shea made bits of Sligo in last year's Connacht final and he was also practically unstoppable in Galway's defeat to Mayo in Pearse Stadium. His height, footballing ability and sheer power make him a serious asset when he lumbers into full-forward.

If, and when, he gets possession of the leather, the Breaffy man is hard to dispossess.

It is fair to say that if he were in Galway's ranks on Saturday evening, most people would give Galway a great chance of winning the game.

Galway's new full-back Declan Kyne cannot be expected to stop O'Shea by himself if he goes into the edge of the square at stages during the game.

Kyne will need championship debutant corner backs David Wynne and Eoghan Kerin sweeping up the breaks, and probably a sweeper back cutting the ball out from going directly into O'Shea too.

However, if too much attention is focused on O'Shea, then it will leave additional space for Conor Loftus, Cillian and Diarmuid O'Connor to exploit, and Galway will be in trouble.

2 - Dominate central diamond

Galway have a new championship debutant goalkeeper in Bernard Power (Corofin ) and he has a fine kick-out.

However, when that ball lands out the field, it will be up to midfielders Tom Flynn, Paul Conroy, and both the half-back lines and wing-forwards Gary Sice and Johnny Heaney, to mop up any breaks and really take the fight to Mayo.

Mayo's half-back line of Keegan, Boyle and Durcan is very strong. The first two have All-Stars to confirm their ability and experience. Galway will need to target them and stop their forward sallies if they are to have any chance of reaching a Connacht final against Roscommon on July 10.

If Galway can get enough possession in that diamond area, and get ball forward fast to Shane Walsh, Eamonn Brannigan, Danny Cummins and Damien Comer, then they have the pace and footballing ability to trouble the Mayo defence.

3 - Belief

Having been beaten as often as they have by Mayo in the past four years and seeing some of their players in All-Ireland finals on TV in 2012 and 2013, and doing well in division one, Galway's confidence may have been sapped.

However the squad on Saturday evening must stamp out any doubts and have no fear of what lies ahead.

They have to believe, as Tipp did last weekend against Cork, that they can produce a huge performance and rock the GAA's status quo.

I re-watched on line last year's game in Pearse Stadium and, if Galway had taken their chances in the first half, and not conceded that dreadful own-goal when the game was in the balance in the second, it would have been very interesting going down the home stretch. Plus Armagh's Padraig Hughes did Galway no favours in awarding some shockingly soft frees to Mayo, which were nothing but tap overs for Cillian O'Connor.

Games are decided on such things.

All the pressure is on Mayo to win this weekend. They are hot favourites to achieve a historic six-in-a-row of Connacht titles and they are on many people's lips as All-Ireland winners next September.

On the Sunday Game last weekend, the pundits were already talking about the Mayo and Roscommon Connacht final. It was as if this game on Saturday evening was a done-deal.

Galway is the last team to enter the 2016 football championship race and the players need to do so with serious belief and conviction.

If they believe in themselves and what they are about, it gives them some chance.

If they don't, they have none.

Galway team v Mayo

There are five championship debutants on the Galway team: goalkeeper Bernard Power from Corofin, corner-backs Eoghan Kerin (Annaghdown ) and David Wynne (Moycullen ), and forwards Johnny Heaney (Killannin ) and Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael's ).

The Galway team: Bernard Power, Eoghan Kerin, Declan Kyne, David Wynne, Liam Silke, Gary O'Donnell (cpt ), Gareth Bradshaw, Paul Conroy, Thomas Flynn, Gary Sice, Shane Walsh, Johnny Heaney, Eamonn Brannigan, Damien Comer, Danny Cummins.


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