Mayo manager Horan delighted with Connacht four-in-a-row
Galway boss Mulholland left to rue lack of goals
Delighted Mayo manager James Horan with Aidan O’Shea at the end of the Connacht SFC final against Galway at MacHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
The history boys march on. For the fourth successive summer, Mayo emerge from the western theatre unbeaten and with the grand prize on all minds. They met a sterner version of Galway yesterday but thought their way through the puzzle as well as playing through it and afterwards James Horan acknowledged a remarkable run of consistent excellence by his side.
“Obviously delighted and very proud. Very proud of the achievement as are all the players. Regardless of anything else, winning four on the trot, beating every team on every occasion over the last four years is something we’re extremely proud of and delighted with the victory today.”
Mayo were on fire in comparison to their laboured hour against Roscommon.
Tweak and change“You always try and tweak and change things and do things a little differently to see if it gives you a different outcome,” Horan said evenly.
“We tried a few things this year and, look it, we struggled against Roscommon; we did a lot of things better today.
“There’s a lot of stuff that was a little bit off; we let Galway back into the game when we really had them by the throat a few times.
“We have a Connacht title, we’re in an All-Ireland quarter-final so we’re delighted with that. We just need to put our heads down and do a lot of work now.
The eternal question only gets louder now. Can they win it? “They have every chance,” said Galway manager Alan Mulholland.
“I am not sure how they are going to do. Maybe we might beat them in the semi-final or something!”
For Mulholland, the equation was simple. The day required goals. But instead of scoring them, Galway coughed them up.
“We would have thought that might not be good enough to win the game, we knew that we had to get goals to win it and instead we conceded them.
“It was 16 scores to 17 scores at the end; it showed we had a decent portion of the play today and if it wasn’t for some missed chances, hitting the underside of the bar after half-time, missing the penalty, we would have been closer.
“We were disappointed with the goals we let in as well; it was one of our goals to keep them goalless and if we had the game would have had a different complexion.”
As ever, the source of those Mayo goals was their flying back division, with Lee Keegan steaming through for the 24th-minute goal to place his side firmly in control.
“Lee is very, very loud when he is coming through so he was screaming in a very high-pitched voice so you can’t miss him,” observed Cillian O’Connor, whose flat, perfect pass set up the Westport man.
“I was thinking I was going to put this over then I heard him screaming like a girl’s voice and I popped it off to him.”
It is a useful attribute, not that Keegan really needs anymore. He had another huge game here, pushing Aidan O’Shea and O’Connor for the man of the match award. But as ever, it was the collective effort that impressed.
“Yeah, they’re very seasoned players, they play what they see,” Horan said.
“And they make the decisions based on what’s in front of them, whether it’s an attacking set-up or a defensive set-up. Whatever it is, they’re getting very comfortable with it.”