Friday 22 March 2019

'Training is like a war zone' - Galway's Shane Walsh praises young guns for making mark in win over Mayo

Lee Keegan of Mayo tangles with Shane Walsh of Galway
Lee Keegan of Mayo tangles with Shane Walsh of Galway

Harry Clarke

Man of the match Shane Walsh says Galway training is like a "war zone" with young players aiming to stake their claim for a starting place in the team.

Resilient Galway held off the May challenge to win Saturday evening's Allianz League clash 1-11 to 0-12 in Salthill.

In tough conditions the Tribesmen did not score from play against the breeze in the second half but despite a late rally from James Horan's side, two late frees from Walsh sealed the win.  

"It's very hard to describe to people at home how difficult conditions were today," Walsh told eirSport after the game.

"The best was way to reference it is look back to Mayo and Roscommon a couple of weeks ago. The wind there was absolutely unreal today. Everyone stood up there today.

"You are living off every ball, every kick out. We have a young team coming through with a lot of injuries at the moment. We are just looking for a performance and everyone to a man there, they put in the workrate tonight and it stood out.

"We are looking for performances. We are kind of going through patches. We are missing players, Damien (Comer) is out for a while. It's just about blooding new players. Antaine Ó Laoí was brilliant and Danny (Cummins) is back in around the panel, got a goal so that's what you are looking for, those lads to put their hand up and say 'I want a place in the team'.

"That's what lads are doing at the moment and training is becoming a war zone at the moment with the new lads coming through."

 

Mayo comeback falls short as Galway record another win over Connacht rivals

The change in the balance of power in Connacht football was again illustrated in a windy Castlebar when Galway beat Mayo for the seventh time in the last four years.

Leading 1-7 to 0-3 at the break, Galway withstood a spirited Mayo comeback which saw them kick six points in a row to narrow the gap to a single point.

But then poor discipline saw Mayo gave away three late fress which Shane Walsh converted to give the visitors two crucial points.

It was a sobering evening for the Mayo fans among the 10,675 in attendance and particularly so for their manager James Horan, who during his previous tenure as team boss never lost to Galway in championship football.

Galway are now level with Mayo in second place on six points in the Division 1 league table where they will be joined by Dublin if they beat Roscommon tomorrow.

When Mayo travel to Kerry in two weeks' time they will be bidding to avoid their third defeat on the spin while Galway have Roscommon at home.

Galway made four late changes – the most significant of which saw Shane Walsh start at full forward. Mayo reacted by moving Lee Keegan on the edge of the square but backed by a gale, Galway completely dominated the early exchanges.

David Clarke's first five kick-outs were all secured by Galway, who pushed up on the home side, forcing the keeper to go long. Points from Danny Cummins, Antaine O Laoi, Johnny Heaney and Michael Daly gave the visitors a deserved 0-4 to 0-1 advantage after ten minutes.

Mayo were totally reliant on Jason Doherty frees for scores, though they appeared to be gifted a life-line when Michael Daly and Barry McHugh were black-carded within 90 seconds of each other midway through the half.

The home side momentarily dictated the exchanges and it took a brilliant goal line clearance from Galway's Tom Flynn to deny Colm Boyle a goal in the 18th minute.

But despite their numerical disadvantage it was the visitors who kicked on with Danny Cummins bringing his tally to 1-2 after he palmed Johnny Heaney's cross to the net while Walsh scored a wonderful long range point.

Doherty did have a goal chance at the other end in the 28th minute but Galway keeper Ruairi Lavelle saved brilliantly. Mayo's finishing was very sloppy, as they kicked five first half wides and failed to score from play against Galway's blanket defence.

Galway extended their lead to seven points on the stroke of half time when O'Laoi kicked his second point to leave the visiting team 1-7 to 0-3 ahead at the break but facing the strengthening gale in the second period.

Mayo finally had their first point from play after 37 minutes when midfielder Matthew Ruane pointed after Aidan O'Shea created the chance but a Shane Walsh free cancelled out that effort.

Galway were content to play keep ball in the middle third of the field before Mayo finally found some rhythm hitting two in a row for the first time through Doherty (free) and Darren Coen before Fionn McDonagh was short with a straightforward free from the right flank.

The Mayo comeback continued though, with their best move of the match involving Keith Higgins, O'Shea and Doherty, who fisted over to make it a three point game with 20 minutes to go.

The under pressure Galway defence was now coughing up more frees and Doherty added his fifth before substitute Andy Moran converted a mark to leave it a one point game in the 55th minute. Crucially they missed two chances to equalise and halted their momentum.

The next seven minutes were scoreless before Michael Daly won a crucial free off Colm Boyle which Walsh nailed in the 64th minute and it took a timely advance from goalkeeper David Clarke to deny Daly a minute later.

But it was advantage Galway and Boyle gave away another crucial free, hauling down Shane Walsh who punished the indiscretion by knocking over the resultant free as the game ticked into the allocated six minutes of injury time. Walsh kicked another free and although Mayo hit two late points from play via Diarmuid O'Connor and Donal Vaughan, it was too little to late the save them.

Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, L Keegan, B Harrison, S Coen, C Boyle, K Higgins; M Ruane (0-1), D Vaughan (0-1); F McDonagh, A O'Shea, D O'Connor (0-1); J Durcan, D Coen (0-1), J Doherty (0-7, 5f). Subs: K McLoughlin for Durcan ht; A Moran (0-1, 1m) for Coen 47m; B Reape for McDonagh 67m

Galway: R Lavelle; D Wynne, SA O Ceallaigh, E Kerin, G O'Donnell, J Daly, J Heaney (0-1); T Flynn, C Duggan; A Ó Laoí (0-2), M Daly (0-1), P Cooke; B McHugh, S Walsh (0-5, 4f), D Cummins (1-2, 1m) Subs: G Bradshaw for Flynn ht; F O Laoi for McHugh ht; E Brannigan for Cummins 53m; P Cunningham for A O Laoi 70 +1

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)

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