Sunday 4 December 2016

Five things we learned from Mayo's dramatic victory over Galway

Damian Lawlor

Published 14/06/2015 | 18:00

14 June 2015; Aidan O'Shea, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Aidan O'Shea, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Aidan O'Shea, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Aidan O'Shea, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Aidan O'Shea, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Kevin McLoughlin and Diarmuid O'Connor, Mayo, in action against Thomas Flynn and Sean Denvir, Galway. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Gary Sice, Galway, shoots to score his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Gary Sice, Galway, beats Chris Barrett, Mayo, on his way to scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Gary Sice, Galway, beats Tom Parsons, Mayo, on his way to scoring his side's first goal. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Danny Cummins, Galway, in action against Keith Higgins, Mayo. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke, clashes with Galway's Damien Comer. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke, clashes with Galway's Damien Comer. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; A supporter uses the official programme to shade the sun. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Lee Keegan, Mayo, tussles with Michael Lundy, Galway, during the first minute of the game. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Lee Keegan, Mayo, tussles with Michael Lundy, Galway during the first minute of the game. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, shakes hands with fellow Mayoman Aidan O'Shea, as the team walk back to their dressing room after their warm up. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, watches on as members of the Mayo team walk back to their dressing room after their warm up. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
14 June 2015; Mayo captain Keith Higgins leads the Mayo team out for the start of the game against Galway. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Galway v Mayo. Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Mayo are into another Connacht final after a 1-15 to 2-8 victory over Galway in Salthill. Here are five things we gleaned from the entertaining encounter.

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1) Experience counts for a lot....

For some of the Mayo squad this is undoubtedly a last tilt at landing Sam and though they lost players like Andy Moran and Alan Dillon through injury they still had more than enough to cope with a fiesty Galway outfit. This was easier said than done, especially after Galway had fought back just before the break and again around the 55th minute mark. On each occasion the hungry underdog could have pinched the lead but on the restart, however, Mayo resumed like men possessed. And again, when they were seriously threatened 20 minutes later, they rattled off two crucial points without reply to get them out of jail. That was in no small measure to the men they could summon from the bench, from Dillon and Donie Vaughan to Barry Moran. They also shut up shop near the end, fouled to stop Galway from regaining a rhythm and looked like men who had been around the block. 

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2) But if you run at their defence....

Mayo still look a little exposed. That's a lesson they need to quickly absorb and immediately put right. The scores conceded column of 2-8 could have read a lot worse had Galway taken advantage of all their opportunities. Michael Lundy and Gary Sice showed that on several occasions that you can penetrate Mayo too easily and Danny Cummins' second half goal also illustrated how the Connacht champions can be stretched. Galway, on the occasions that they attacked their opponents with 100 per cent commitment, drew lots of fouls and found plenty of space. This is a big red flag ahead of the Connacht final for the Mayo management. They will need to compact their defence more, perhaps add an extra layer or else they could be exploited.

 

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3) Before the game there were questions asked of Mayo's freshness..

And in fairness they answered those questions today. The problem, though, is how they depend on Cillian O'Connor so much. Overall, however, they looked hungry and well up for the fight. Galway hadn't beaten them since 2008 and yet there was no sense of complacency in the Mayo ranks. Equally, when Galway brought on a stack of hungry young pups from the subs bench in the second half, Mayo withstood that pressure. They shipped injuries to key players, had some dodgy moments in defence and relied on O'Connor and Aidan O'Shea quite a lot, but overall their work rate and intensity were decent. 

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4) Galway are much improved...

They never stopped fighting but simply lacked composure in the second half. Even though they fought back with a Cummins goal the truth is that Galway were slipping out of the game slowly when Paul Conroy got a black card, thereby depriving the team of possibly their biggest leader on the day. Conroy had a cracking game but he will be disappointed not to have been around for the end quarter. But pulling someone down deliberately simply will not be tolerated - the worst thing was that Mayo were not even in danger of scoring a goal and the foul came around the middle of the park. Although Galway replied with a fine goal almost instantly, they did lack Conroy's leadership and marksmanship for the remainder of the contest, not scoring for 16 minutes near the end.

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5) The form of Gary Sice continues to soar....

He doesn't always get the headlines but Sice scored an absolute belter of a goal to add to his point in the first half and he almost closed in for another. Three men were detailed to mark him through the 70 minutes and the fact is that there are few players in better form around in the country than Sice. While his goal looked classy it came from a grafting, blistering 40m run allowing him to get up into Mayo territory and support his teamates. Corofin have had a great year and so too has Sice. His county look capable of going quite far in the qualifiers and Sice will be central to any run they have.

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