Mayo's physical size
Myself and former Mayo player Billy Fitzpatrick were working in the Mid-West Radio Outsider broadcast unit last Sunday at Pearse Stadium and twenty minutes before the game in the space of two minutes the two squads walked by, just outside the window of the bus. The contrast between the teams could not have been more stark. Galway's big men looked tall and slight - whereas nearly all the Mayo panelists were really well built men, with the likes of Aidan O' Shea, Barry Moran, Kevin Keane, Seamus O'Shea Tom Cunniffe and Lee Keegan looking particularly powerful. Interestingly the individual possession stats help confirm that view, with Seamus O' Shea having 20 individual possessions and Aidan with 19 - both more than any Galway player. The hard yards that Mayo have made as regards strength and conditioning over the past four years was there in front of my eyes. The disparity between the panels was plain to be seen in every bicep, shoulder and chest.
Galway's free count
The stats show that Galway committed 32 fouls, as opposed to Mayo's 26. The big problem for Galway was that eight of those fouls were for scorable frees, that all-star forward Cillian O'Connor had no problem converting. Galway also picked up six yellow cards and two blacks and a red, as opposed to Mayo's three yellows. Although how Mayo defender Kevin Keane was not black carded for one particular tackle was baffling. Galway will need to tidy up enormously, and quickly on their tackling if they are going to have any impact at all in the qualifiers.
Aidan O' Shea crucial to Mayo's cause
Last Sunday the Breaffy man was like a battering ram that Galway could not thwart. His sheer bulk and power meant that every time he got the ball there was consternation in the Galway defence and his tally of seven assists and one score meant he had a direct part to play in half of Mayo's scores. The former St. Gerald's College student also topped the Mayo tackle count (8 tackles ) and was the obvious choice as man of the match. The way to stop O' Shea is not to get involved in a physical contest. He must be harried and hassled and crowded out. The likes of Donegal's two McGees, Paddy McGrath and Karl Lacey are experts at that and the system they play allow them to do so superbly. Roscommon or Sligo will need to have a plan to deal with him for the Connacht final.
Galway need a plan B for full-back position
Finian Hanley has been a magnificent servant for Galway in the number three jersey. And he has been in that role for over a decade. Finian won a Connacht medal way back in 2005 (Galway 1-10 to Mayo's 0-8 ) in a full back line of Alan Burke, Finian Hanley and Kieran Fitzgerald and he has represented Ireland with distinction in the International Rules series on a number of occasions. However, the Galway management team really need to have other options for every player, in every position, if things are not going well for them on a particular day. It seemed bizarre that Hanley was not subbed out well before he was sent to the line by Padraig Hughes last weekend. The way his day had been going, that was always the likely final conclusion to a bad day in the office and the Galway management team were remiss in not having taken remedial action before it came to that. There are not any stand out options in club football in Galway as a replacement full-back, however one will have to discovered or manufactured in the next few months.
Outrageous traffic jams
Moycullen played Ballygar in a county u12 Camogie game on Tuesday evening and their mentors were telling me that it took them five hours to get from Letterfrack (Connemara ) to Ballygar last Sunday evening. Imagine that trip with four or five youngsters in the car with you. Another friend of mine took two and a half hours to go from Oughterard to Galway city on Sunday, on her way back to Dublin. That is mad stuff and unless there is a much improved and efficient traffic management system in place for big games in Pearse Stadium people will stop travelling to support their team. There was 20,254 at the game and that is a big crowd, however their exiting of the stadium should not stall the entire traffic system on the West side of the city for the guts of three hours or more. That issue needs to be addressed for 2016.