Mayo continued their dominance over fiercest Connacht rivals Galway with a hard fought four point win in Salthill last Sunday. Galway, obviously reeling after four successive defeats against the green and red set the tone early on with some big hits as they let the visitors know they were not going to roll over this time around.
There was a real niggle element throughout and the game was barely on when Lee Keegan and Micheal Lundy were entangled on the ground and received two early bookings. In the 11th minute Colm Boyle and Gary Sice followed for a similar offence. I know I tipped Mayo to win starting at -2 last week, if you got on it you were certainly made sweat for it. The three biggest contributing factors to Mayo winning this game were (1 ) Galway’s indiscipline, (2 ) Galway’s own goal and (3 ) Aidan O'Shea. Cillian O'Connor kicked nine points last Sunday, eight from placed balls. All but one of his frees scored were from in or around the D which is bread and butter to a player of his calibre. Galway captain Paul Conroy was black carded midway through the second half for a needless foul which took a bit of life out of the Tribesmen but Finian Hanley should have received his marching orders long before he did for the persistent fouling of Aidan O'Shea.
Galway’s discipline very questionable
On one occasion Hanley blatantly shouldered a Mayo player in the back resulting in a tap over. It must have been so frustrating for manager Kevin Walsh watching his most experienced player over indulging almost every time the ball went near him. Galway full forward Damien Comer who looks a real talent played like a man possessed, but very often way too over enthusiastic clattering into anything that moved in a green and red jersey and his collision with Seamie O'Shea shook me in the press box. Comer was lucky to stay on the field for dragging Lee Keegan around like a rag doll. It was the correct decision to book Keegan for holding onto the ball but I still can’t get to grips that it wasn’t until that 73rd minute incident that Comer received his only yellow card, as he was consistently clashing with Mayo players off the ball. His over aggressive play will cause him problems down the line if he can’t control it.
After Gary Sice’s unstoppable thunderbolt just before half time (he did over carry the ball twice in the lead up to the goal by the way ) Mayo looked to be in real trouble and Galway were clapped off the field by their expectant supporters, and Mayo’s travelling contingent was a little concerned. I’d say Kevin Walsh was hardly out of the dressing room when Mayo reeled off 1-03 in the space of four minutes to all but kill the game. A powerful run by Aidan O'Shea caused consternation in the Galway defence, they did eventually make him fumble the ball and direct it back to net minder Manus Breathnach who inexplicably panicked and instead of gathering the ball and controlling a moderate situation he rifled the ball off his own full back Finian Hanley and the rebound trickled into the Galway net.
Hanley’s day was deteriorating by the second. Breathnach’s mistake proving very costly for his team, it’s like what you’d imagine a young lad would do who was playing in goal for the first time. After a game of such magnitude I love hearing other people’s opinions of what they witnessed, to see who they thought played well, who played poorly, how they thought the game went tactically etc. Sunday’s game was difficult to analyse, a lot of mistakes by different players at different times. One well known pundit felt Kevin McLoughlin was the Man of the Match although I couldn’t see it myself.
I now clearly understand what the term “Beast Mode” means. For me and most of the country Aidan O'Shea was the clear-cut man of the match. Even though he only scored one point he was directly linked to well over half of Mayo’s scores. He caused panic in the Galway defence every time he got the ball and gave Finian Hanley a torrid afternoon ultimately getting him sent off. O'Shea reminded me of King Kong when the giant beast vented his anger on the streets of New York. The Breaffy beast vented his anger on Galway players on the green pastures of Pearse Stadium and as in the movie, most ran away in fear in Salthill, those brave enough to challenge were simply cast away like stunt doubles in the movie.
Pat and Noel will obviously be delighted with their first championship win but both will realise they are far from the finished article. My main concerns would have been some very loose kick passing ultimately throwing away hard earned possession, coughing up goal chances and not really creating any up the other end, they have four weeks now to get it right. A win however is a win, right? After losing Andy Moran and Alan Dillon to injury they’ll be hoping all their players come through the club championship unscathed this weekend. After all the talk over the last few weeks about sledging or trash talk as the Americans would call it, there was a proper bit of old fashioned sledging in Salthill. Neither team took any prisoners and both sets of players went hammer and tongs at each other, that’s more like the sledging I was used to.