Impressive Mayo make light work of old rivals
Mayo 2-14 Galway 1-10:THIS COULD have been a much blacker induction to the big west of Ireland rivalry for Joe Kernan than the final scoreline suggests.
Lord knows what happened to the usual point that has tended to divide these teams in recent years. The visitors wobbled on the verge of an almighty thumping before recovering to leave McHale Park knowing that it could have been much worse.
Mayo’s attractive and freewheeling assault was halted when their captain, Trevor Mortimer, was red-carded just minutes after finishing his team’s second goal. That was in the 46th minute, when Mayo were 2-13 to 0-6 points up and warming to the task.
Michael Meehan, introduced at half-time, hauled Galway back into the realms of respectability by posting 1-3, but Mayo utterly dominated the day.
“Outmuscled and outgunned,” was Kernan’s succinct reaction. What he said in the privacy of the dressing-room was probably more elaborate. “If you want a reality check, that was definitely it for Galway folks and it will maybe dampen things down and make people realise there is a lot of work to be done. Mayo were faster than us and they were leaner than us. But they can’t be that much faster.
“There were a lot of fifty-fifty balls there to be won and we didn’t get there through, well, maybe not lack of commitment but we maybe we weren’t mentally sharp.”
Mayo obliterated their neighbours in the first half and never really looked back. In the corresponding fixture a year ago, Kevin McLoughlin was introduced at half-time and had a major say in the storming comeback Mayo made against Galway in Tuam.
Yesterday, he was in terrific form from the start, causing Galway endless problems with lightning, perfectly-timed breaks from left-half back and banging over two points with no great fuss. The second of those underlined how rampant Mayo had become all over the field, when McLoughlin took a breaking ball at speed, found Mortimer and didn’t hesitate to shoot when the team captain played possession back to him.
“There are good young players coming through in Mayo after the minor and under-21 teams we have had and they need to come through and show that ambition,” said John O’Mahony. “I have no doubt Mayo will have a good team, it is just a question of how soon.”
In a week when Mayo said goodbye to David Heaney and James Nallen, it must have been encouraging to see the calibre of performances that coming players like Donal Vaughan, Enda Varley, McLoughlin and Seamus O’Shea put in here.
Mayo’s movement in all sections was bright and uninhibited. Andy Moran produced a wonderful score on 16 minutes and after that Mayo began shooting with impunity; three of the back six had landed scores from play at half-time and the midfield pair of McGarrity and Tom Parsons also struck fine scores from play. The midfielders were also taking care of their primary duty.
The “mark” count stood at 6-1 at half-time and wave after wave of Mayo attacks emanated from the midfield area. Galway were chasing shadows for most of the half. Gareth Bradshaw was moved over to contain the influential Andy Moran and the grim resolution with which the Moycullen man stuck to his task was one of the few positives for Kernan.
It was not surprising Kernan singled out Bradshaw – along with Donal O’Neill and Garry O’Donnell – as being exempt from the general criticism. Finian Hanley frustrated the ambitions of big Aiden O’Shea.
But at times, it was hard to believe this was a Galway-Mayo derby. Mayo were 0-11 by 0-4 up at half-time but upped the ante after the break. Two quick frees from Mark Ronaldson stretched the lead and then Enda Varley took a pass from Vaughan to hit the first goal on 43 minutes. Two minutes later, he skipped across the face of the Galway goal before supplying a gift for Mortimer to finish.
The Shrule man was a bit unfortunate to be hauled up for a hit on Bradshaw which was late but not malicious and his departure brought an end to the Mayo gallivanting. With 14 men, they were more cautious. But it was a hugely encouraging display, the prescription for which O’Mahony said was down to three murderous weeks of training following by a week of rest. It works.
“This was a good performance but it is still just two points from the first game of the year,” added O’Mahony.
Michael Meehan was a tonic for Galway. It wasn’t just the goal he scored – coolly finished after a slick pass from Danny Cummins set him up for a one-on-one with David Clarke. It was the willingness he showed to chase down lost causes that illuminated the day.
Galway went down with great placidity here. But who knows what kind of purges the Armagh man is putting them through in Loughgeorge?
MAYO: D Clarke; D Vaughan (0-1), G Cafferkey, K Higgins; P Gardiner (0-1), T Howley, K McLoughlin (0-2); T Parsons (0-1), R McGarrity (0-1); A Moran (0-2), S O’Shea, T Mortimer (1-0), E Varley (1-1), A O’Shea (0-1), M Ronaldson (0-4). Subs: A Freeman for S O’Shea (48 mins).
GALWAY: P Doherty; G Bradshaw, F Hanley, D O’Neill; D Meehan, G O’Donnell, N Coyne; J Bergin, M Lydon; P Kennedy, P Conroy, N Coleman; S Armstrong (0-2), N Joyce (0-3, two frees), M Martin (0-2 frees). Subs: A Feeney for Coyne (20 mins), D Cummins for Kennedy (23 mins), M Meehan (1-3, 3 frees)for Lydon (ht), B Cullinane for Martin (41 mins).
Referee: M Duffy(Sligo)