Saturday 17 August 2019

'I know referees are under serious pressure but there is agendas probably being driven by the top'

Mayo 2-13 Galway 1-13

Donie Vaughan celebrates his late point which helped Mayo to victory against Galway. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Donie Vaughan celebrates his late point which helped Mayo to victory against Galway. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

The Mayo bandwagon rolls into Killarney next Sunday brimming with energy after rescuing their season on Saturday night.

Regardless of how they fare in their three matches in the Super 8s, Mayo are pure box-office. The perennial All-Ireland bridesmaids can never be accused of being timid or dull or possessing the wherewithal to kill off a game.

Michael Daly of Galway is shown a black card by referee Joe McQuillan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Michael Daly of Galway is shown a black card by referee Joe McQuillan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

This performance had their DNA stamped all over it. Twice they led by eight points, but nobody was heading for the exits. And true to fashion, they contrived to give their thousands of fans a collective fright at the death.

Shane Walsh somehow squeezed a close-in free through a forest of legs and into the corner of the net in the sixth minute of injury time to leave one score between the sides.

Panic

By then the contest had degenerated into a chaotic mess. Galway's Ian Burke and the Daly brothers, John and Michael, were all sent off in injury time. For once, Mayo didn't panic and they never gave Galway a sniff of the ball after conceding the goal.

Mayo boss James Horan insisted he wasn't worried about his side's less-than textbook finish.

David Clarke of Mayo saves a penalty from Liam Silke of Galway. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
David Clarke of Mayo saves a penalty from Liam Silke of Galway. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

"You'd prefer if it didn't happen. I think the majority of teams have jittery moments. You're probably just seeing a lot of us over the years and we get a lot of attention. But we're getting through them and trying to minimise them obviously and stop them from happening.

"I thought we dominated an awful lot of sectors of that game so I'm happy with a lot of it."

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It was left to Galway boss Kevin Walsh to provide the colourful post-match reaction as he directed his ire at referee Joe McQuillan and unnamed "guys at the top".

"The game was there for winning. You look at missing a penalty, conceding a poor goal, hitting the post, missing one or two frees and a few awful decisions which put us on the back foot as well.

"I know referees are under serious pressure but there is agendas probably being driven by the top. It probably puts pressure on them to take all the silly decisions."

Walsh declined to elaborate on what specific decisions he was referring too. "You will see them again yourself. It is very frustrating and when it is as simple on the eye to look at, the stuff that went on."

Responding to a suggestion that Galway had changed their tactics and started to kick the ball more having conceded two early goals, he said they always do that if left space.

Walsh, who masterminded Galway's three championship wins over Mayo since 2016, would not be drawn on his future.

He added that his priority was to make sure that "this group go out together, hold their heads high and not listen to crap outside".

In their three championship wins over Mayo between 2016 and 2018, Galway had restricted them to a single goal. By the ninth minute on Saturday evening, James Carr had already hit two - the second a contender for Goal of the Season.

This laid the foundations for Mayo's first win in any senior competition over the Tribesmen in four seasons.

Galway never recovered from that horror start, though four excellent first-half points from midfielder Peter Cooke, who repeatedly escaped the attentions of Aidan O'Shea, kept their slim hopes alive.

Trailing 2-8 to 0-7 at half-time, Galway - who had already introduced Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, who was surprisingly dropped - sprung Damien Comer. He almost made a sensational impact when his fisted effort rebounded off the post. But ultimately he was unable to escape the clutches of Brendan Harrison.

Five unanswered Galway points between the 47th and 62nd minutes left three between the sides. But it ought to have been closer as David Clarke came to his side's rescue in the 55th when he saved a Liam Silke penalty at the expense of a 45.

Crucially, when the need was greatest Mayo responded, holding Galway pointless in the closing 17 minutes and tagging on three points themselves.

Mayo's full-back line was outstanding while Colm Boyle rolled back the years with a swashbuckling display.

"He showed immense leadership today. James Carr is a very exciting player who has a bit of everything and when we get him fully fit he'll be a serious option," said Horan, who suggested Mayo were looking forward to taking on Kerry in Killarney.

"Games are coming hot and heavy and the game-to-training ratio is the way you want it."

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