Another Saturday evening of football beckons, another double-header of League Division One matches featuring the ladies and the lads. Galway provide the opposition in both matches at MacHale Park, with the LGFA one throwing in at 5.15pm while the lads get going at 7.15pm.
After last weekend’s loss to Dublin, tonight’s clash with the Tribesmen is an important one for James Horan. While our three-from-three winning start to the year was very welcome, it’s still far from clear how well we’re equipped for the tougher challenges facing us.
The manner of our defeat to Dublin was what was most disappointing about last Saturday night, as well before half-time it was pretty obvious we were going to get nothing out of the game. Tonight’s performance against the neighbours needs to be several notches up from that pallid display.
A strong showing for us against Galway is a good bit overdue at this stage. Having dominated them for years, our respective fortunes began to alter once they got one over us in the 2016 Championship. Since then they’ve beaten us every time they’ve played us in League or Championship.
What we first took to be a blip has instead become established practice. We did, it’s true, draw with them in the FBD League semi-final back in January but they still got the better of us in the penalty shootout that followed. Winning’s a habit. So is losing.
James Horan never lost to Galway in League or Championship in his first stint in charge. It was under James that we established complete supremacy over them, to the extent that in time we confidently expected to beat them – and well – every time we played them.
With the tables now turned and Galway enjoying an unbeaten run against us that stretches back to 2016 it’s definitely time to start redressing the current balance. And tonight at MacHale Park is – all the ongoing experimentation notwithstanding – where this should happen.
Tonight’s game is likely to be a tough, tetchy affair. Galway play very defensively, adopting a snarling, aggressive, in-your-face mien into the bargain, so punters heading to MacHale Park are unlikely to be treated to a game for the ages.
The weather certainly won’t be conducive to good football tonight either. Added to this, the cramped dimensions and heavy going underfoot at MacHale Park will all combine to increase the claustrophobic quotient. Those are all, though, largely known obstacles.
Getting a result these days against Galway always seems tough for us, which is why this match will, I’m sure, have been a particular focus for James and his team for some time.
That FBD encounter gave a hint about how we might go about our business tonight. We need to take the fight – in every respect – to them right from the start and do what we can to build up the kind of lead that will force them out of their fourteen-behind-the-ball approach. Do that and we could have a game on our hands, a game where we can record a very welcome win over the neighbours.
Safe travelling to all heading to the game. If you are intending to go then please remember the collection for Regina’s Fight for Life and give generously when you encounter the collectors as you approach the ground.
Best of luck to both teams in the Green and Red tonight. Up Mayo.