by Sean Rice in Ballinrobe
HAVING watched Mayo win a record five Connacht titles in a row is it any wonder their rivals are growing restless.
They might have failed to capitalise on unprecedented provincial success with All-Ireland fulfilment, but concern is building among their neighbours that the champions might be on track to break their own record in Connacht this season.
It can’t be uplifting for other title hopefuls to hear some commentators already predict a Mayo/Dublin All-Ireland final. It is, of course, idle speculation.
And Mayo more than any county ought to be aware of the ills of complacency, having failed to reach the final summit those past five years.
Priority for Galway right now is to regain the stature they once held in Connacht. They have rarely been so low for so long. Pride is at stake.
Still hurting from that 17-points thrashing three years ago on their own ground, they have a score to settle. They need a boost and they come to MacHale Park on Saturday chomping at the bit.
No better chance will come their way to make a statement of intent. They are outsiders. Few even in their own county believe in them.
But the players are burning for revenge and followers of both counties can expect a return to the classics once produced by the two as part of the Connacht football scene.
Those time-honoured clashes of the sixties when Galway strode the land like a colossus crowd the archives of memory. On three successive occasions the Sam Maguire returned to the streets of Tuam: the Morleys, Langans, Corcorans and Prendergasts of Mayo the whetstone on which Keenan, Dunne, Colleran, Tierney and Leydon sharpened their edges for the final stages of the championship.
From all over the province they came and farther afield to witness these great sporting occasions.
Although they provided stiff opposition Mayo rarely got the better of the Tribesmen, and when they did, they failed to emulate their success outside the province.
It is a measure of the depths to which they have fallen that eight years have passed since Galway’s last win over Mayo in the championship. No period of Mayo dominance has been so comprehensive.
Galway’s decline coincided with the advent of James Horan as Mayo manager who shaped his team into a force unlike anything the county has known before.
For the first time in more than six decades they have been competing, if lucklessly, as equals with the best in the country. How they handle the standing accorded them by the ‘experts’ is what will define Mayo¹s year.
Only in the final stages of the league did they find the form to retain Division One status.
Nothing they have done since, including their win over London, is convincing evidence that the coming season will be as good or better than the previous five.
For more of the Mayo View and comprehensive previews of the football and hurling provincial semi-finals see this week’s Galway City Tribune digital edition here, or download our app.