For the first time since 2010, Mayo will not be preparing for the show piece occasion in Connacht after Galway came to Castlebar and knocked them off their perch with a closing surge that left the five-in-a-row Connacht champions backed into the corner and unable to swing their way out of it, as Galway hit them with body blow after body blow before the bell was finally rung and the maroon and white mens arms was raised in victory.
Bruised, but ready to fight another day, Stephen Rochford faced the crowd looking for answers a little over half-an-hour after he had seen his side pinned into the corner and not able to figure their way out of it. The Galway goal was the moment that stung Mayo’s chin the hardest and the flurry they landed after that was the key moments in their victory and the Mayo manager admitted that it was around this period the game was lost. “I think it was a turning point, we lost only two of our own kick-outs and we conceded 1-1 from it. At that stage we were three or four points up and in control, but once we conceded that goal Galway got their second breath and they kicked on and scored 1-5 with out reply and we’d no answer to that and we’ll have to look at the video and try and answer those questions.”
Mayo’s own inability to land a decent shot on Galway despite dominating them in the first half is something that they will have to work through over the next few weeks, but there is still something encouraging to be taken from that half and the early stages of the second half the freshman inter-county manager believes. “Yah ten wides in the first half that was disappointing but what would be encouraging about that is that we created them 18 chances, the eight scores and the ten wides. What would be disappointing would be that we could have done a bit better on shot selection from a number of the guys, but overall, you know in that first 50-55 minutes in difficult conditions we were playing reasonably well but our execution needed to be better, but we were happy and were certainly in control of the game.”
Now it’s on to the chicken and chips circuit of the qualifiers for Mayo, a road that hasn’t been something they’ve very often had much success in down the years, but it’s a road they must hit at full tilt if they are going to save this summer. Rochford was keen to stress that his side were looking no further than this Galway game hadn’t taken their eye off the ball looking further down the line. “No all our thoughts were on Galway and we prepared very well, you know the accusation may be thrown at us that we had our eyes on something else, but that certainly wasn’t the case and I know that if you get yourself in a position to be 0-11 to 0-7 or 0-11 to 0-8 up your eye certainly is on the game. On a day when under foot conditions was difficult scoring the goal chances was the difference and you know we didn’t genuinely bar a half chance that Evan Regan had in the first half we didn’t look like scoring from a chance, nor did Galway until the capitalised on a mistake.”
As for Mayo’s ability to recover and put this game behind them and move on the Crossmolina native said, “Time will tell, but there’s a lot of heart in that group, they are very down, some of the guys won’t have experienced and evening like this in Connacht, but that’s a test of character now and having got to know these guys over the last six months, their shoulders are going to be broad enough to take that one and we’ll know more as the summer continues.”