Not to be bullied around the middle third
Two years ago Mayo came to Pearse Stadium and defeated Galway by 4-16 to 0-11. The game was effectively over after 20 minutes as Mayo were lording proceedings. What was obvious in that game, is that Mayo were far stronger, bigger, and more aggressive in the middle eight. From wing back Lee Keegan, up to wing forward that day with Cathal Carolan, they were in complete control. Last year in McHale Park, Mayo were again victorious on a score-line of 3-14 to 0-16, and players like Colm Boyle and Barry Moran again bossed proceedings. The Galway players need to take the field this Sunday in the frame of mind that it will not happen again. They need to be very controlled and aggressive within the rules. Galway has to match Mayo’s power play and not allow Mayo’s big players like Keegan, McLoughlin, and the O’Sheas dominate the middle third, as they have done for the past few years. Guys like Paul Conroy (captain ), Fiontán Ó Curraoin, Gary O’Donnell, Gary Sice, and Michael Lundy have to show real leadership and set out Galway’s stall early by getting on the ball and winning key possession. If Mayo are allowed to get into their groove and the players start to believe that it will be the same story as it has been in Connacht for the past four years, then Galway will be in big trouble. The key Galway players have to really go at the thing from the get-go, put some doubts into the Mayo heads, and cultivate self-belief in their own teammates. There are no sure things in sport, and the full Galway panel have to believe that they can spring a shock. If they don’t genuinely believe that themselves, then it cannot happen.
Get good quality ball into Damien Comer
Comer has been a revelation so far this season with his powerful fielding and eye for goal. He was terrific for the U21s in their championship campaign, and he also notched a few key goals for the seniors too in the league. The Annaghdown man looks like a player really enjoying his football and, no more than Cathal Mannion with the hurlers last weekend, he is a guy who will do damage if he is given the ball. It is the responsibility of the Galway half-backs and half-forwards and midfielders to make sure that Comer can stay on the edge of the square and get supply. As Paul Conroy proved in the second half of the Connacht final last year, and Donaghy did with Kerry in the all-Ireland semi-final, there are real question marks over Mayo’s ability to deal with good high ball into a vibrant full-forward.
The Galway starting fifteen and subs need to have a truly enormous appetite for hard work and power play for the full 70 minutes this Sunday, if they are to have a chance of knocking the four-in-a-row champions out of the provincial race. Mayo players, such as three time all-star Keith Higgins and double all-stars Colm Boyle and Lee Keegan, have to be pegged back and not allowed dictate the play. Those guys are top players if given space and time, and the entire Galway forward line will have to work like demons to nullify their influence. Workrate is number one. Unless a team has that in spades, they have no chance.