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Mayo achieved the double/double in Elverys MacHale Park last Sunday with our minors and seniors winning the Connacht championship for the second year in a row. I could only imagine it was a bit surreal for Diarmuid O’Connor who only 12 months ago was on that minor team, and now finds himself togging with the seniors and winning his first senior medal while some of his old team mates collected their second in the minor grade.
On the Mayo Advertiser vodcast last week - all four pundits went very strongly for a Mayo win in the Connacht final. John Casey of this parish even pushed his prediction out to a six point win for James Horan's men. Hence there was no real surprise last Sunday when Mayo proved once again that they are by far the best team in this province.
Most of us travelled to Páirc Mhic hÉil in Castlebar on Sunday morning more in hope than expectation, and in many ways the game turned out pretty much as expected, with a relatively easy win for the home side.
Galway came to town and they huffed and and puffed but in the end they were no match for a Mayo team that went about dismantling their southern neighbors with relative ease in the end with man of the match Cillian O'Connor kicking eight points and having his hand in two of Mayo's goals that booked their passage to the All Ireland quarter-final on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Mayo were smarter in almost every area of the field and ran out deserving seven point winners with Aidan O'Shea dominating the game from his centre half forward berth for long periods of the contest. Even when Galway looked like they could get themselves back into the contest the rub of the green wasn't with them as Shane Walsh who kicked seven points for the Tribesmen saw his effort for a goal come crashing back off the bar just after the restart.
With plenty of time still to go before Sunday’s showdown with the Tribesmen, James Horan along with Keith Higgins and one of the new guns in his panel, last year’s minor captain Stephen Coen were in relaxed mood, when they sat down to meet the press. However Horan picked the two players to accompany him on press duties is something only the manager knows, but in choosing both Higgins and Coen he was flanked by the last two Mayo players to captain the county to All Ireland glory. Higgins in 2006 with the u21 team, and Coen last September in Croke Park with the minors.
The good news for Alan Mulholland and his management team before they face Mayo next Sunday in McHale Park (2pm) in the Connacht final is that niggling injuries to Shane Walsh, Joss Moore, James Kavanagh and team captain Paul Conroy have all cleared up and all men are available for selection for Sunday's clash.
By Ray Silke
Galway are hot favourites next Saturday to beat Sligo in Markievicz Park (7pm) in the Connacht semi-final, but why are so many people speaking so confidently about Galway's chances this weekend?
Last weekend I went to a few matches in the Galway senior football championship. The only consistency in the games that I observed, was the absolute inconsistency in the referring between games, the softness of some of the frees being given, and the poor standard of club football in the county. Anyone who has been watching inter-county football over the past decade or more will surely be aware of how the Tribesmen have drastically slipped back down the football rankings. From top of the pile in 2001, to not having won a senior provincial title since 2008, or even more shockingly, a provincial minor title since 2007. Watching the dire standard of referring at club level in the county last weekend convinced me that poor quality referring is also a factor in Galway’s, or any other county's demise.