It was not the start to the national league the Galway contingent was hoping for but Galway today where basically outplayed by a better, more prepared Mayo side who ran rampant in the 1st half. The honeymoon period of the FBD League is all but over now for Joe Kernan and the boys as today was a dose of reality. Perhaps it could be the best thing that ever happened to these group of players, okay there was only 7 points in it in the end but at one stage during the match, Mayo led by 13 points and they where worth every point of that lead.
The healthy crowd of almost 6,000 was in attendance today with the refurbished McHale Park where Galway started the game with the 1st score in the opening few minutes when St. James man Paul Conroy set up Sean Armstrong for Galway’s first score. Mayo hit back however, with scores from Peader Gardiner who got the leveler before Andy Moran and Ronaldson putting the neighbours 2 points up. Mayo got it going from there and before we knew it they where a commanding lead. Mortimer was impressive for Mayo as was Kevin McLoughlin why played an outstanding game. Mayo went in 6 points to the good at half time, what was more impressive was the number of men in green and red on the score sheet, no less then 8 of their made up their 11 scores in the 1st period.
Serious questions must be asked of the Galway midfield as today they where completely outclassed and werent up with the pace of the game at all. Galways half back Niall Coyne had the unenviable job of marking Mayo captain Trevor Mortimor who was just too much for the Carna-Caiseal man and he was later substituted. Galway looked tired and the work rate was particularly poor, maybe its the weights in training, word has it that the current Galway panel are spending more time in the gym and less in the playing field and that was showing today.
The second half began with a switch in personel at midfield, Annaghdown native Niall Coleman went in midfield while Michael Meehan came in for Mark Lydon. Meehan grabbed 1-3 today and if he had played the full game, he would have undoubtedly scored more. The second half started like the 1st, when Mayo came in for an early goal by Enda Varley, they added two more points to give them a 1-13 to 6 point lead on the 45 minute mark. Trevor Mortimer added another goal for Mayo which put them into an embarrassing 13 point lead, with another 20 minutes of the match to go it was unbearable stuff Galway fans.
A somewhat harsh red card for Mortimer left Mayo shaken for a couple of minutes and Galway capitalized with a Michael Meehan goal putting some respect on the scoreline, but it was too little too late at this stage. And so the game had ended with Mayo picking up the points against their most rivaled team. As much as it pains me to say it, this Mayo side played some great football today, it was impressive showing from them, they had a point to prove today as many people expected a Galway win but Mayo stud tall. I’d imagine John O’Mahoney will be pleased with what he has seen today but bear in mind it is only the 1st week of February after all and a lot can change before next Mayo.
I keep on coming back to the midfield area, it has been Galway’s downfall these past few seasons, Joe Bergin was uninspiring today, he is a man who has been around the inter-county scene since 2001, its time for him to show some leadership. As a footballer he hasn’t developed since that All Ireland u21 final win in 2002 against Dublin. At the time I thought he was going to be the man to replace Seán O’Domhnaill in the center of the field but he hasn’t lived up to it. Its back to reality for Big Joe, the backroom staff and all involved with this senior side. We have seen in previous years how Galway have played to their peak in mid-march in the national league, but they then faded come championship time. Id rather see this set of players come good for the county in mid-July instead of mid-March if you understand where I’m coming from.
Maybe today was the best thing that happened to this team, a lot of people have taken it for granted with Joe Kernan on board we will become ‘the invincibles’, but that will not be the case. They can now go back to the drawing board and rectify these problems before the Championship kicks off in New York in May. It’s worth noting however that Galway where missing some quality players today, most notably Padraic Joyce, Fiachra Breathnach and Barry Cullinane and the Corofin contingent. I would like to see Greg Higgins given a chance in midfield for Galway if he comes into the squad after the club competition is over, he has been impressive to date with the Corofin seniors and it would be worth giving him a game in midfield somewhere along the line.
So the opening weekend of the national football league is over, wins for Derry, Cork, Dublin and Mayo in the opening round of games. A lot to ponder from the match today and we now look forward to see how Galway will react to todays beating when we host Monaghan in Pearse Stadium next Sunday. Just to inform you that the squad stats and results sections have been updated.