Sport The Throw In

Saturday 17 August 2019

'I know James Horan was apparently delighted to draw Galway. They were keen on revenge and that was very evident'

Mayo manager James Horan prior to the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 4 match between Galway and Mayo at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Mayo manager James Horan prior to the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 4 match between Galway and Mayo at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

It's a differing tale of two managers in the west after the final Super 8 spots were secured last Saturday.

After Roscommon got the better of both Mayo and Galway in Connacht, there was always the chance that at least one would fall by the wayside in the qualifiers.

And while the door to the Championship has now opened up for James Horan and Mayo, it may have shut in the face of Galway's Kevin Walsh for the final time according to two-time All-Ireland winner, Peter Canavan.

"With the benefit of hindsight, Mayo had lost their last three Championship games to Galway," Canavan told The Throw-In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy. 

"I know James Horan was apparently delighted with the draw because he knew it was one game he'd have no difficulty getting his troops motivated for. They were keen on revenge and that was very evident.

"From Horan's point of view, he deserves a lot of credit. He's made big calls at different stages of the game and in recent games.

"Against Down, he moved Lee Keegan out to the middle for the last fifteen minutes which transformed the game. He brought Kevin McLoughlin out from the full-forward line against Armagh, it turned the game. His decision to reinstall David Clarke is reaping huge rewards for him. 

"At the start of the year, he needed to unearth a few young forwards that were going to make a difference and he's managed to do that. Darren Coen has been superb in the last three or four games he's played and young James Carr comes in and scores two goals.

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

"Horan is ticking a lot of boxes at the minute and has his men moving nicely. They're well set up for the Super 8s."

On the other side of the fence, a year after making a first semi-final since 2001 Galway now find themselves on the margins again.

And although there's clearly been progress under the man who was part of that famous Galway side what won back-to-back crowns at the turn of the century, Canavan believes it's unlikely that we'll see a sixth season at the helm for Kevin Walsh.

"Kevin has a big decision to make. I was disappointed with their performance on Saturday, okay they rallied very well to come back into and but for the first fifteen minutes it was disappointing as was their second-half performance against Roscommon.

"Likewise their last game in the National League was a second-half capitulation against Tyrone as well," the Tyrone legend explained, clearly believing that attempts to play a more attack-minded game after criticism of their defensive style have caused issues at the other end.

"The second goal that James Carr got, if that was last year or the year before, as soon as that ball was kicked out short Galway would have had men retreating. They'd have been in a very strong defensive position ready for the likes of Carr or Paddy Durcan breaking through.

"That wasn't the case on Saturday night, they looked like a team that wasn't one hundred per cent sure what they approach they were adapting.

"They still have really talented players, bear in mind they've missed Damien Comer for most of the season who's a main man for them. Kieran Molloy is only back from injury. He hasn't had a full contingent to have a fair crack at it this year.

"I'd say Kevin has brought them on well since coming in. You have to bear in mind where he brought them from a few years ago.

"But can he get any more out of this group? I'm not so sure."

Online Editors

The Throw-In All-Ireland Hurling Final preview: Can Tipp's firepower edge clash with the Cats?

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport