Galway slide past Sligo

Photo: RTÉ

Galway may have made heavy weather of it over in London the weekend before last but they had no such problems against Sligo at Markievicz Park this afternoon. They surged clear of the Magpies in the second half of today’s Connacht Championship semi-final, winning at the finish by 3-11 to 0-7.

Sligo – lining out this year, for the first time in ages, in their traditional white and black strip – were well in the match at half-time, as they only trailed then by 0-5 to 0-3. Two goals inside a minute, from Liam Silke and Johnny Heaney, pushed the Tribesmen clear early in the second half, though, and they had thirteen points to spare over the Yeats County by the end.

I wasn’t at Markievicz Park myself today but instead caught the match of the day up at Páirc Esler in Newry. We decided on a whim this morning to head north for this one and we were rewarded by getting to witness a real ding-dong Ulster Championship tussle between Armagh and Down.

Armagh eventually won it by just a single point after extra-time in a match where fortunes swayed back and forth all afternoon. Ulster so often – with some justification – gets a bad rap for the dourness of its contests but today’s game was a real belter and was well worth the short spin up from the capital to see it.

Back in Connacht, meanwhile, with Galway now safely berthed in the final – for the fourth year in a row – the battle for provincial honours is down to a three-cornered one. It’s been Galway and Roscommon who’ve battled it out for possession of the Nestor Cup for each of the past three years so it’s now up to us next Saturday evening to see what we can do to upset that particular cosy arrangement.

There’ll be plenty of build-up, needless to say, to Saturday’s Connacht SFC semi-final against Roscommon here on the blog, including a match preview episode of the Mayo News football podcast. Stay tuned for all that over the coming days.

Play the Mayo GAA Lotto this week to be in with a chance to win two tickets for the Roscommon match. There’s €13,500 in the jackpot for tomorrow night’s draw – play the Lotto here.

45 thoughts on “Galway slide past Sligo

  1. A word of warning to anyone who sees our league success as a pointer to glory in the championship. Hurling league winners Limerick who had a fantastic campaign were pretty well beaten by Cork while runners up Waterford were whacked by Tipp. In football relegated Cavan proved too good for neighbours Monaghan who beat the mighty dubs in league. While the League is a great competition it becomes rather insignificant in the heat of championship battle.Let’s take nothing for granted and beat Ross before we even think of Galway

  2. Wildly entertaining Armagh v Down game. Almost shut it off with 60 mins gone. Tremendous heart by Down. If you’ve got the opponent on life support, finish the job!

  3. Galway less than convincing in that 1st half v Sligo. Just two points ahead and 5 points scored. The two goals in minute made it comfortable for them after that but still only 14 scores to 7 v a side that will be playing Div 4 football next year and none of Galways full forward line scored.

  4. Definitely Wllie Joe, you picked a good match to travel north for…Great Match, seemed to be a very good attendance on ‘The Sunday Game’ …. altough the ‘The Sunday Game’ did cover the Sligo/ Galway Match, the analysis wasn’t very informative, and old father time on RTE prevented an indept study of the merit’s of both team’s… Roscommon coming up next Saturday…..it will be a difficult one for many poster’s to pick the named 26, let alone the starting 15 for 7 pm next Saturday… Extra time if it’s a draw, and even more extra time if it’s still a draw after that, .. Mayo’ V Leitrim in the curtain raiser….. For me, it’s certainly an evening to look forward to in Castlebar!

  5. Agree Mayomagic that they were less than convincing however Sligo did their own bit of parking the bus with 13 behind the ball and there was a fairly strong wind for Galway kicking into. Plus for Galway were debuts for Kieren Molloy at wing back he was flying up to his injury in the 17th minute, and Martin Farragher scored 1 1 in his 5 min cameo at the end.The worry for Galway would be the clear lack of urgency and intensity in these games and whether they could match that of Mayo/ Roscommon in a Connacht final. The continued absence of Damien Comer , Paul Conroy and more doesn’t help.
    I’m expecting a real hum dinger next Saturday and I would be very wary of the Rossies, Anthony Cunningham is always well capable of abusing teams.

  6. Galway going about their business quietly, which suits them. Wonder is that injury to molloy fairly serious?.

    Very wary of this Roscommon side. Would’nt surprise me if Cunningham has tailored their season for this game. Cunningham will have a statue unveiled in his honor outside down the hatch pub in roscommon if they win, such is their hatred towards us. No one more happy when Mayo lose an All Ireland than a rossie, its a pity their that useless we cannot repay the favour. Still, if our minds are’nt in the right place we could get caught out. They were a div 1 outfit for 3 months, so they need to be respected. Our record in Machale worries me, the tight pitch will suit their ultra defensive set up, if we leave the shooting boots at home we’ll be in bother. Expect them to try an act hard, by targeting the smallest player on the pitch which will be boland! Hope Fergal is ready for it coz it will come in spades from the wannabe tough men such as Harney and the Dalys. Dont expect them to try it on any1else. Will be happier once we get through this game. Hope James has them focused enough to get over the line.

  7. Tuamstar, it was bad luck for Molloy on his first championship start alright. Watching the few minutes highlights on the Sunday game that Sligo defence looked very loose and matter of fact for Silkes 1-2 he was left totally unmarked. Point wise the wind didn’t seem to make much of difference, Galway 5 points against and 6 with it while Sligo scored more points against the wind 4 v 3.

    2nd Galway goal was a lucky one as it was point effort that fell kindly to heaney, not sure what the Sligo defence were at for the 3rd goal but they were already beaten at that stage anyway. I’d expect a big improvement from Galway in Connacht final as they look to retain their title.

    The Rossies will need to defend well to give Mayo a game in MacHale Park, defending well was a weakness under McStay and going by the latter NFL games i’m not sure has Cunnigham had enough time to fix that defence yet but we shall see on Saturday night.

  8. I have to agree with Mayo man in Roscommon, I always though McStay to be a fair analyst on TV, but that act hitting the ref with the ball in the back of the head was thuggish. I would be wary of the Ros challenge this coming weekend.

  9. Gave it up as a bad job trying to do the Mayo lotto in GB. What should be a simple thing to do just play and pay .No I have to phone up Ireland and register my credit card with who ever runs the lotto. Not worth the hassle.

  10. Arra, MayoDunphy , leave the bitterness out of it and not stir up all that rubbish.
    For a man who called Ros useless, you seem very worried about them.
    Like a previous poster above, I am also a Mayo man in Roscommon, and have a very good knowledge of them.
    Trust me, Ros will NOT beat Mayo next Saturday.,and I’ll tell you why.

    It’s because of lack of consistency in their performance level.
    They switch off in games. They went from excellent to lacklustre in a lot of their league games in the blink of an eye.
    It even happened to them against Leitrim, when they switched off for the first 10-15 minutes of the Second half.
    I don’t believe that they will be able to play well enough for long enough, to beat us.

    I’m the expectation, that Aidan and Ruane win midfield, I’m going for Mayo to win by about 6 points.

  11. Have to agree with mayodunphy on that one. The majority of rossies do despise us. I suppose it’s that fact that they haven’t beaten us in a competitive fixture since 2001. Here’s hoping their barren run is still running after Saturday nights game. Their supporters would be unbearable to listen to if they beat us. Cant see it happening. It will be a reasonably close game. But youd have to say mayos squad depth is probably the strongest it has been in a very long time. This game is a real test now for the new additions to the squad who performed in the league. Guessing a team to start would be tricky. Competition for places is very strong I’d imagine. Horan is the man to figure that one out

  12. Look I’ve not been as concerned over a Roscommon game in years and I’m not beal bochtin here . They are going to let loose on Sat , they have nothing to lose and are no slouches.

  13. Enda Smith will be back but I can’t see how they would beat Mayo, and would agree with Observer2 . It was hard to Judge them on last day but opposition was poor, Conor Cox will need to be tightly marked but I would say J. H. Will have that under control.

  14. All – just to chime with with what Observer2 has already said, can we please, for once, park that tired old narrative, which seems to come up every year, about the Rossies’ hatred towards us? This kind of nonsense adds nothing to the debate.

  15. AS of yet RTE hasn’t shown a live football game but we’ve had 4 live hurling games. Then on the Sunday Game, they go and show firstly the highlights of the live hurling games they showed that afternoon. For the last 2 weeks you get to see the football highlights from 10.30pm.

    The reality is that the football chip has started without any real publicity etc. Wouldn’t you think it would have been arranged to show a football and hurling game for the last 2 weeks to ‘kick-off’ the football (as well as the hurling)?

  16. Definitely think the Rossies will give us a good challenge at the weekend, but I don’t doubt we will win, and I am sticking to my guns and saying I still think they will challenge us more than Galway will (fighting talk).

    I absolutely believe they have been building up to this game since before January and this, as a friend pointed out yesterday, is probably their Connacht final. Observer2, if there was ever a game in which they need to retain their focus, it will be this one. In They tend to raise their game against us as many teams do and it wouldn’t be the first time a team not as good as us has given us a right fright.

    Expecting a good game but a four-point win or thereabouts for us.

    The Rossies might be happy when we lose All-Irelands but by god, their hatred pales in comparison to that of our Joyce County neighbours! 😉 Enough of that talk for now anyway, given that none of us have yet emerged from Connacht.

  17. Mayo will win by 6 to 8 points on Saturday night. I don’t expect it to be a close game and, in all honesty, I think Mayo in-house A v B games will be more competitive.
    The reasons should be fairly obvious to anyone that has seen both sides play this year. Roscommon have neither the strength or stamina to out-fight or out-run us. They don’t have the technical ability to out-play us and they certainly lack the tactical brains to out-think us. Mayo are a bigger, stronger team now than last season and, even this early in the year, we look to be a much faster team also. We have far better competition for places (as was mentioned above) and under Horan our teams have always been built to attack and go forward. Roscommon, especially under Cunningham, have been afraid to do that and in at least two NFL division one games this year, when the game was there to be won (particularly v Dublin) instead of pushing forward they went backwards and were actually afraid to go and win it.
    Mayos tendency to go forward has the added risk of leaving us light on defensive cover and prone to a counter attack. That risk only really exists if we are playing against an attacking team. Roscommon are not an attacking team. In fact, they are the opposite. To date they have employed a fairly crude defensive blanket, using a running hand-passing counter-attacking game out of their defense. That tactic will not work against us for two main reasons. 1) We are the masters at the running game and will run them in to the ground if that’s all they bring to the game. 2) Our backs are the among the best in the game and will be very comfortable going man-to-man on the Roscommon forwards, this will allow us commit additional players to our attack.
    Even breaking it down further, Roscommon will need to score at least 13 or 14 times, assuming at least one of those scores is a goal. To do that they will need to create at least 30 scoring chances. That is 1 shot on our goal every 2 and a half minutes. A blanket defensive, counter attacking team will not create that amount of scoring opportunities and that is why they are a division two team. They won’t get enough ball around the middle third, where I expect O’Shea and Ruane to win a more than 50% of anything in the air out there. Likewise Doherty and Boland on any broken ball. If they play it short and try to work it out from the defense the ball will be too slow coming out and I expect our forwards to push up on them and either foul them, or turn them over.
    The more think about it, I firmly believe Saturday evening will be a stroll in the park.

  18. Agree this game could be a banana skin if we don’t bring our A game, the rossies are more than capable of causing an upset.

    Any word on how Cillan is progressing?

  19. Well done to Galway… getting the job done efficiently and quietly. Yes we’ve seen a few upsets already in hurling and football. I’m of the opinion that Mayo need to be on their toes and ready to give a good account of themselves in the first 20 minutes. Cavan caught Monaghan off guard and never relented. I expect Mayo have too much strength and depth to quell the Rossie rising. Hoping for a good game and a positive result for Mayo…

  20. Both Galway and Rossies are really an unknown quantity. I think Ros didn’t target the league at all and this game is more important to them than staying up. I think we deserve to be favourites but will probably need our A game to win. As for McHale Park, I don’t think Ros record there very good so they’ll be more worried about, we won’t be bothered by it, more a case of poor league years for us and 2 Galway victories, one when we were off the boil and ambushed and the other when we made it hard for ourselves with a sending off.
    I think Horan has added a freshness and only time will tell. Unfortunately abroad for this one. Will be in a GAA bar or on GAA Go if live.

  21. Very confident as ever Pebblesmeller but a slight word of caution, 2016 Galway who couldn’t get out of Div 2 that year beat Mayo in MacHale Park playing a similar style as Cunnigham is trying now with Roscommon. The word trying is key as i think if they remain loose in defence as they were under McStay and for their last few NFL games this year ( Lets be honest a crude defensive blanket doesn’t concede 2-17,1-16 in games) then i can’t see the rossies getting within 6 points of Mayo.

  22. I wouldn’t read too much into their Div1 form. They didn’t seem to care too much about staying up.
    I expect them to be up for it and so will Mayo. May the best team win so long as it’s us.

  23. @Let’s have plenty of healthy rivalry in Castlebar on Saturday evening. And let’s not start taking about other supporter’s in the negative. The Rossies will bring numbers, colour and noise,.. it all adds to the sense of occasion, excitement and expectancy’..We know, what we bring, the hair will be standing on the back of your neck, the Pulse will be faster, and sence of anticipation almost unbearable. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion, let’s rejoyce in that, Connacht is competitive, would we really swap it for some of the non event’s, masqrading in Munster or Leinster as competitive football fixture’s…Who ever win’s on Saturday we have to earn it the hard way… Both team’s played in Div One in 2019, and while our Fortune’s in Div One were quite different, all that prevented Roscommon from remaining in Div One was the unfortunate intervention by Roscommon”s ‘Ultan Harney’ which led to a gimme of a free being over turned in the final seconds of the Ross/Tyrone fixture, had that not happened, Roscommon would still be in Div One for next year… and Monaghan relagated, tight margins decided their fate, expect no different on Saturday!

  24. Let’s assume ruane and Aido start 8&9 , who replaces them if either or both get a knock , black card etc ? It’s a little concerning our lack of cover in midfield is all I’m saying .

  25. Vaughan, Diarmuid, Seamie, spring to mind as midfield cover. I think we’re far better off in that department now than 6 months ago. The kerry lad is a good forward and will need watching, Mirtagh the same. I feel im forever haunted by that Galway victory in 2016, a 7pm Saturday evening throw in, when we were odds on an no one gave galway a chance….its just starting to feel like that again. A wet day and we’ll be in bother I feel, need dry ball and sod to expose them with our kick passing.

  26. Hadnt realised that, very thin on the ground in midfield so. Stephen Coen can do a job at midfield in fairness, and Diarmuid could be moved in. Roscommon are probably weakest in midfield, O’Rourke very limited with poor distribution, havent seen killoran yet.

  27. Who expected Cork to beat Limerick in the hurling. Limerick to beat Tipp in the football and Cavan to beat Monaghan. Anyone who thinks we will have it handy Saturday evening is in for a rude awakening. I hope the majority of Mayo supporters are coming to support the team and not expect handy win. The team will need positive support on Saturday if things aren’t going well – not supporters going quiet or shouting criticism at players/managers/ref etc. If James Horan was given a one point win now in a scrappy game – he would take it.

  28. It’s looking like there will be rain Saturday evening in Castlebar, so if you want a Stand ticket you better purchase quick!!

  29. I know he hasn’t tasted senior football yet but Mikey Murray is going to be a cracking midfielder for Mayo. The Rossies will be a very tough test make no mistake about it but I expect Mayo to come through and the game will stand us in good stead for Galway. It would be great to avoid the back door this year but we will have to really bring our A game or we might be caught out

  30. – Roscommon will come to contain.Mayo rather than play them
    – They know they cannot match Mayo’s physicality and stamina for 75 mins.
    – Expect maybe only Cox and one other forward to hold position. All the rest will be back behind the 45.
    – Add in the edge Cunningham has bought to their game and you will probably have a ugly scrap of a game.
    – We should be winning this by 10 or so BUT our propensity to let in stupid goals at the worst possible time and Roscommon playing on the edge and with little space for our forwards it could be more like 4 points.
    – They can foul knowing our scoring rate from frees is not good with COC still out.
    – Hopefully Horan will be swift with the substitions so that any Senior player who is tuned out or off the pace is taken off. The younger guys need to be given a longer time to settle but they too should be subbed if not performing. #Ruthless

  31. Agree with you Sean Burke re midfield cover.

    Cunningham will be working on blocking the channels and doing a Galway on us. Using McHale Park against us. Murtagh primed for long range points. Hope anyone on the panel isn’t lapping up a lot of the complacent stuff being trotted out here.

    No point in mentioning Galway and ourselves at this stage. Rossies will be up for this, big time. They’ll niggle, they’ll frustrate – Aido in particular, they’ll shut up shop if they get any kind of lead. Meanwhile, no Cillian, freetaking creaky, and as we said, thin midfield cover.

    I’m worried.

  32. Regarding midfield cover the most sensible back up is Mikey Murray. He is well above the alternatives. He’s a fielding specialist and he is well able to cover the ground.

  33. I watched a lot of the club championship last year and thought Mikey Murray looked more intercounty standard that Mattie Ruane. We could see him before the summer is out.

  34. JP, I don’t know why but your post about Mikey has reassured me about midfield cover. (Thank you!!!) I agree with Sean Burke above that this is an area we need to be secure in and we can’t be complacent simply knowing we have the fab duo of Aido and Mattie at present (as Sean said – possible injuries, black cards). But long may Aido and Mattie thrive!

  35. As nervous/worried as anyone about an unforeseen event tripping us up, but at the end of the day I am calmed/reassured by the fact that no sensible observer would rather be in Cunningham’s shoes than James’ on Saturday if wanting a win.

  36. South Mayo Exile, who is this aimed at? “Anyone who thinks we will have it handy Saturday evening is in for a rude awakening. I hope the majority of Mayo supporters are coming to support the team and not expect handy win. The team will need positive support on Saturday if things aren’t going well – not supporters going quiet or shouting criticism at players/managers/ref”??
    I always have, and always will, support the team and have done for 40 years, the length and breath of this country and beyond. And I do expect a handy win. Can the two not go hand in hand? Or does that make me a bad supporter.

  37. Can we just post the bookies odds at the start of each match thread and state “That is our approximate chance of winning and losing”.
    All this beware the idea of Ros stuff is a repeat of a repeat of a repeat.
    Regarding midfield cover and expanding the thought to squad depth and younger squad depth. I think last year we were tired both on and off pitch and in the stands. Mentally first and that is proven to affect physically. Now we are post refresh, we hope.
    Taking an u27 cut off we are in good shape. It on my view means continuous leaders and depth over the next 5 years.
    Brendan Harrison
    Eoin O’Donoghue
    Paddy Durcan
    Stephen Coen
    James McCormack
    Matthew Ruane
    Mikey Murray
    Fergal Boland
    Cillian O’Connor
    Diarmuid O’Connor
    James Carr
    Darren Coen
    Brian Reape
    All under 27.

  38. JP, you can add Fionn Mcdonagh, Ciaran Treacy, Michael Plunkett, Cian Hanley, Conor Loftus, James Durcan , Evan Regan and Conor Diskin to that list

  39. I don’t think anyones opinion should be disrespected whether you think we will hammer ros or if you think it could prove a tight affair. Vast majority of supporters are sound and just want what we all want otherwise you’re not really a supporter are ya. My point is come 7pm in McHale park any negative feeling I’d have would be chucked down McHale Rd and I’ll roar them on as best I can and so will most .

    It’s all very interesting this year , ruane , mcdonagh, Carr and we also seem to be forgetting reape , Boland and an improved Evan Regan possibly, Darren coen and j McCormack, could see a very new look Mayo . Selection for the 26 is hard to second guess never mind starting 15 . I can only speak for myself as a supporter but I find I’m in two minds about this year , one is where I think we are going to have only a middlin year bowing out in super 8 but with an eye on the future all the time . Other one is dreaming of the utopia as per.

    We have touched on the midfield cover but I still find it a concern and would wonder if cutting Jason gibbons was wise. Going into any championship game without your leading scorer and free taker is also a negative add in the factor that we might get a fair few frees v Ross , I just hope we have a concrete strategy . Like 40m frees ,would we be better just recycling it ?

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