Galway maintain their hold over Mayo

GAA: Comment

Eye on the ball: Danny Cummins battles for possession against Danny Cummins last Saturday night. Photo: Sportsfile.

Eye on the ball: Danny Cummins battles for possession against Danny Cummins last Saturday night. Photo: Sportsfile.

It was misery all round for Mayo GAA as our senior men and ladies suffered a double defeat for the second week in a row.

Despite it still being mathematically possible, I feel any chance James Horan's team had of making it to a league final have well and truly evaporated after a poor showing against our traditional rivals, Galway, in round five of the national league.

We have now gone seven games on the spin without getting the better of Galway - our last win dating all the way back to 2015. More worryingly, there are three championship and two national league defeats in that seven, all of which we badly wanted to win.

Over ten thousand hardy souls braved the unforgiving elements to see if Mayo could bounce back from the poor performance in Croke Park the previous week. Yet again, Mayo supporters left a game disillusioned at the performance and the result. There is no doubt we are caught in the Galway web and find it very difficult to get scores against them and ultimately defeat them.

Galway seem to enjoy playing against Mayo now. It's a far cry from the last time James Horan was in charge when we were totally dominant over the Tribesmen. Since Mayo's trouncing of Galway in Salthill in the championship in 2013, on a scoreline of 4-16 to 0-10, Kevin Walsh's side have gradually closed the gap until they finally turned us over in the 2016 championship - and they haven't looked back since.

Since that last victory in 2015 we have failed to register more than 12 scores in any of those seven games, which is a real worry from an attacking perspective. Poor shooting and indiscipline most definitely cost us last Saturday's result. Taking the strong gale into account, which Mayo played into in the opening half, three points from placed balls is a very poor return by anyone’s standards, when you analyse where the missed opportunities were from. Some were from straight in front of the goal on the 21 yard line.

No matter how strong a breeze, players should be hitting the target from that distance. Galway weren't much better themselves, only scoring four frees while playing against the breeze in the second half.

Mayo did create one goal chance in the first half. After a fine pass from Darren Coen to Colm Boyle, Boyle, without gathering possession, looped the ball over the on-rushing Galway keeper, Ruairi Lavelle, only for a tremendous goal line clearance from Galway midfielder, Thomas Flynn, who scooped the ball away to safety to deny Boyle a certain goal.

Another worrying first half stat saw Galway taking us for 1-01 while they were down to 13 men, after having two players black-carded in quick succession. Their goal was textbook but you should not be conceding a goal with two extra men. Anthony O'Laoi fed a long pass (not unlike Coens to Boyle ), through to Johnny Heaney, who got goal-side of his tracker, Fionn McDonagh, who went to ground before Heaney hand-passed across David Clarke’s goal, for Danny Commins to palm the ball to the net. The 1-07 to 0-3 half time score proved a worry but not insurmountable, with the gale at our backs for the second period.

Mayo quickly got into the groove in the second half with an inspirational point from midfielder, Matthew Ruane. Mayo continued to reduce the deficit and were only one point down after 55 minutes. Mayo's aggression in the tackle had Galway in all sorts of bother as they were turned over on numerous occasions.

What transpired thereafter is what is hard to take on. I was convinced at that stage - Mayo were going to win the game by at least five points - as Galway were struggling as Mayo's high press had them rattled and struggling to gain possession. You always felt that once the leveller came Galway would fold, but the erratic shooting by some and the failure of others to take a shot on had us all bewildered and the leveller never arrived.

Taking on a shot from 50 metres wasn't unmanageable, given the wind in Castlebar, as Darren Coen proved, but for some reason players wouldn't take on the mantle and tried to walk the ball to the goals, while others shot willy nilly at the Galway goal, much to the frustration of the Mayo faithful. Galway were taking on water at that stage and craved a get-out-of-jail card.

It was a time for cool heads and composure but Mayo's indiscipline in the tackle when trying to get level was baffling. Some of our most experienced lieutenants were the culprits. They committed some crazy fouls in front of David Clarke’s goal, which Shane Walsh duly punished to win the day for Galway. Galway were missing a whole host of top players for this clash, their delight at maintaining their dominance over us - despite missing so many regulars - was evident at the final whistle.

It all of a sudden becomes a big couple of weeks for James Horan and his team. Mayo desperately need a good performance for the team's sake and for the sake of their throngs of loyal supporters.

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