It was a very strange atmosphere on Saturday as despite the huge crowd it had more of the feel of a challenge match. I didn't think Galway had any support until the goal went in as scores up to that point had been greeted with polite applause. To say Mayo have gone backwards since last year is an understatement. The problem was that they were so close last year that very little needed to be changed. We needed to cut down on mistakes in defence and add a scoring forward at the other end. Instead of that we seemed to try out a raft of new systems in the one game which the players didn't seem familiar with and clearly didn't work. Kevin Mc was out of his depth and his influence around the middle was badly missed. I couldn't figure out Keith Higgins role as he played in the corner for a while, then moved a bit further out before eventually half going back to the defence. Aido started off at full forward and was beginning to look dangerous before eventually wandering out the field and crowding up an already crowded area. Our main plan seemed to be move the ball as slowly as possible out of defence, giving Galway plenty of time to regroup, before eventually horsing a high ball in the general direction of Evan Regan who was out somewhere near the corner flag. In fairness to Regan he won a lot of dirty ball but was forced to shoot from impossible angles or recycle to somebody who also ended up shooting from an impossible angle. Galway broke at pace, like we used to do, and also broke down the middle which meant the were shooting from scoreable positions. The one big positive under last years management was the siting of Aido at the edge of the square. He terrorised both Galway and Sligo, swung the game Mayos way against Donegal and was effective in the drawn game against the Dubs. The only day that didn't work well was in the replay was that was more a reflection on the quality of the ball in than Aido. Hennellys kicks out worked well until Galway pushed up and then we started losing the breaks when he had to kick long. It was strange to see our lads being bullied off the ball at times. Our energy levels or fitness levels were off and it was unusual to see so many going down with cramp. We haven't become a bad team overnight but if we don't get our act together fairly quickly it will be a short summer and we'll have to end up shouting for the Ross, perish the thought. In my opinion,and I stress the my, Aido needs to be at full forward and left there, full stop. The ball in needs to be more measured and two or three need to work off him at all times. If they employ a sweeper Keith Higgins would be a better bet as he's more used to a defensive system and he is brilliant at switching from defence to attack. We need to go back to the old system off attacking at pace from the half back line, we did it briefly before half time and was the only time we looked dangerous. The strategy in the second half seemed to be defend in numbers, don't concede a goal and it will be ok. By the time we realised it wouldn't be ok we had no plan B. If we had lost like that to a team of the quality of Dublin or Kerry it wouldn't be too much of a worry but Galway, while showing potential, are a long way from that standard. We are still good enough to be challenging in August but an awful lot needs to change for that to happen. Our next game will tell us if lessons have been learned.
Replying To martinjoe: "Another Rout, is hardly what we need right now, but I can see this being less of a challenge than Sligo provided last year. If fairness to Galway management they had make changes, but 5 newcomers who have been poor against poor DIV 2 opposition, 3 of them in the full back line is hard to fathom. They will be steamrolled by our attack. In one of his rare starts for Corofin, (normally the sub keeper) Power let in a clamaatious goal in his last championship game for the club.. "Will Galway Bate Mayo?" Not this time…"
Power didn't let in that goal. He hasn't been started by corofin in a senior match for the last 4 years. It was their " # 1 keeper "Tom Healy that made the mistake and it wasn't his only one by all accounts. Kevin Walsh reckons power is the best keeper in Galway , I tend to agree as would most people after Saturday's performance. Corofin politics in action.
I had a bad enough feeling going into Saturday night that the gamble in terms of our lack of preparation could bite us. That said, we were worse than I thought, with even the likes of Cillian and SO'S, normally both totally reliable, off their games. Even so, despite being muck, until that goal went in Galway were on their way to a tame 4 or 5 point defeat, and I'm sure they'll be reflecting on this too ahead of the final. Like a lot of other posters, I've had concerns about the possibility that some players have no faith in the game plans being tried, or have reached the point where they think they should be allowed play whatever way they like. This absolutely wouldn't be tolerated in Kerry or Dublin and was stamped out in Donegal by Jim McGuiness ahead of their success in 2012. We're not going to win anything with lads pulling in different directions, so whoever needs to be reined in or dropped, now would be the time for it. If I'm not wrong the loser of Donegal, Monaghan will be in the hat with us on B side of the draw. A performance like the last day would invite a real roasting up in Ballyboffey or Clones. It's time for the guys who are supposed to be calling the shots to call them.
Here's the potential horror draw which could await Mayo now as a route to glory: round 2 qualifier Fermanagh in Brewster; round 3 Donegal in Ballyboffey; round 4 Monaghan in Clones; QF Dublin in Croker; SF Kerry in Croker; Final the Rossies in Croker...
Thought I'd inject a bit of light relief at the end... couldn't bring myself to type Tyrone. We'd need to be cursed to get that draw, but we're Mayo and we're well used to lady luck vomiting all over us!