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Knockout blow for poor Galway

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Dara Bradley

THE funeral procession started early. The remains of Galway football carried shoulder high to the Connacht championship graveyard long before the final whistle was blown at 5.30pm on the button.

Even Sligo referee Marty Duffy took pity on Galway, and, in sympathy, cut short the burial service – he didn’t prolong the agony and didn’t even bother to play the full time-added-on at Pearse Stadium. Be grateful for small mercies.

We saw it coming very early-on in the first-half, but even still, it doesn’t prepare you for the shock of it. A defeat would be accepted. Mayo are, after all, a top team and will challenge for All-Ireland honours. But the manner of the defeat went over the border of what is acceptable. It is not acceptable, and the players and management team should have come out and openly said so. They may do so yet.

Galway 0-11 Mayo 4-16. It hurts to even type it. A 17 point defeat to our nearest rivals; the worst ever championship performance in living memory, there’s nothing redeemable from the rubble.

It was lamentable stuff. It was demoralising. It was embarrassing and humiliating and it was painful to watch. It was all that and worse.

Days like Sunday in Salthill come once in a blue moon for Galway fans. By now, we’re used to losing championship matches – heck, a whole new generation of young followers has grown up believing Galway lose championship matches. This was different, though. This was a new level of mortification.

Galway followers were left badly exposed in the terraces; defenceless, and in their own back yard and all. The ‘Mayos’ aren’t known for their humility but in fairness to them, mostly, they went easy on us with the gloating; on the field Mayo felt sorry for us too, and won pulling up.

Oh, the ignominy of it all – we almost longed for the lousy ‘Mayos’ to start bragging and slagging proper. But no, it was mostly just pity.

No need to put them in stocks and fire rotten fruit at them in public – but Galway football supporters deserve an acknowledgment from the squad that Sunday wasn’t good enough and they need an explanation as to how it went so badly wrong.

The match itself wasn’t even as testing for the visitors as a training session: They’ve literally had tougher run-outs among themselves in McHale Park.

A field of grey, white, dried-out dandelion seed heads would have put up more of a resistance in a tornado than the Galway footballers managed against Mayo.

And the defence, at times, was about as effective as a scarecrow made of birdseed. The backs were just so green, lacking cool heads and experience.

For the first goal, there were three or four Galway defenders in situ to prevent it but not one of them put a dent in Cathal Carolan. He couldn’t believe his luck that Gary Sweeney and Colin Forde momentarily lost the use of their shoulders.

Tom Flynn gave a reckless pass away for the second goal and Mayo pounced lightning fast to punish. For the third, Galway were caught acting the maggot, short-passing among themselves in defence before being dispossessed. It was Hari Kari stuff.

Earlier, Cillian O’Connor could have bagged another goal when Forde sent a hospital pass back across the face of the goal to keeper, Maghnus Breathnach. Mercifully, he took the point. You’d have to feel for the ‘keeper, in this his championship debut – the standard of defending in front of him was chronic.

The gulf in class was enormous. Beforehand, there was a sense that Galway could cause an upset – in each of the past three times Mayo reached an All-Ireland final, the following year Galway has toppled them. But not this time. This time, Liam Horan’s charges blew away any chance of an upset – the omens didn’t look good when Mayo led 1-5 to 0-3 after 15 minutes, hopes of a Galway victory faded further when Mayo stretched that led to 1-8 to 0-4 on 25 minutes, and when Mayo led by 2-8 to 0-4 after 31 minutes, the game as a contest was all over but the Galway nightmare was just getting into to the horror stages.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Champions Moycullen on guard after club football draw

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Moycullen's David Wynne tries to halt the progress of Mountbellew-Moylough's Paul Donnellan during last year's Galway senior football final at Pearse Stadium.

CHAMPIONS Moycullen will open the defence of their title against an emerging Claregalway outfit when the sides meet in the first round of the 2021 county senior football championship on the weekend of September 5th.

In addition to Claregalway, Moycullen have also been pooled with An Cheathrú Rua and Annaghdown and, while Don Connellan’s charges will be favourites heading into all three SFC fixtures, the former Roscommon footballer will be acutely aware that each of their Group 3 opponents have the capacity to spring a surprise.

Indeed, this proved to be Moycullen’s forte in 2020 as they claimed the Frank Fox Cup for the very first time. It was even more impressive given they did so without Galway star Peter Cooke, who was working in the United States last year. Cooke has since returned and his availability significantly boasts their chances of retaining their title.

From the outset in 2020, though, Moycullen looked like men on a mission. In their group games, they saw off Micheál Breathnach (3-12 to 1-6), Annaghdown (4-9 to 2-14) and Mountbellew/Moylough (4-14 to 1-9) before accounting for St. James’ (1-17 to 2-9) and 2019 finalists Tuam Stars (3-14 to 1-15) in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively.

The two biggest threats to Moycullen’s crown are Corofin – still the reigning All-Ireland club champions – and Mountbellew/Moylough while Tuam Stars and Salthill/Knocknacarra will also fancy their chances.

Corofin, unbeaten for almost eight years in Galway SFC football until their demise last year, have been drawn in Group 4A, alongside Oughterard and Salthill/Knocknacarra. However, those three teams will not play each other, but rather they cross-play the teams pooled in Group 4B, namely Monivea/Abbey, Barna and Caherlistrane.

This unusual format gives each of these teams three SFC fixtures – same as the four-team groups – with the top two sides in each of these sections – 4A and 4B – advancing to the knockout stages.

See full coverage of the draw in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway let 11-point slip in a thrilling minor battle

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Galway’s Colm Costello tries to fend off the challenge of Roscommon’s Ethan O’Reilly during Friday's Connacht minor football semi-final at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Roscommon 1-16

Galway          2-12

IT would be a tad simplistic to dub what was a hugely entertaining Connacht minor football semi-final as a game of two halves, given that Galway led by 11 points at one stage before Roscommon stormed back to eventually claim a remarkable victory at Tuam Stadium last Saturday.

The reality is a little more nuanced, in that Galway, on their first outing of the year, impressively carved Roscommon’s defence apart with an array of stylish attacking play for a 20-minute spell while playing with the wind at their backs. Outside of that period, though, Galway would just manage to register a solitary point from play.

Roscommon also let four decent goal chances slip through their fingers before they eventually did raise a green flag, drawing two saves while also hitting the post. Critically they hit the last three points of the half to leave a slightly more manageable eight between the sides.

During Galway’s purple patch, pacy corner forwards Eanna Monaghan and Niall Mannion both left their markers chasing shadows, as Galway reeled off nine scores without reply having understandably started quite sluggishly. Goals by Sean Bermingham and Monaghan looked to have Alan Flynn’s side in the box seat, but Roscommon showed remarkable character to claw their way back despite a second half black card that threatened to stall their comeback.

However, when Robert Heneghan’s thunderous 47th minute shot hit the roof of the net while Roscommon were still a body short, the large travelling support rose the decibel levels another notch and their team responded magnificently.

Read full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin hit the goal trail again in crushing Monivea/Abbey

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COROFIN 4-18
MONIVEA/ABBEY 0-7

WHILE it goes without saying that everyone is hugely thankful that sporting action has resumed and we still appear on course to complete a season, it is such a pity for the time being that only a handful of supporters are allowed the privilege to watch a team of Corofin’s class in full flight as they look destined to create history on their march to an eighth senior title in a row.
On a glorious day for football last Sunday, Corofin dismantled Monivea/Abbey in emphatic fashion, playing an electric brand of football that repeatedly cut holes in their opponent’s defensive alignment. Seven goals last time out against Oughterard, there could have been more again in Tuam Stadium but for some uncharacteristically sloppy finishing to rapier-like first half moves that left Brian Mulry’s side exposed.
It didn’t help that Cillian McDaid, Monivea/Abbey’s star turn, was an absentee, or that St. Bernard’s Connacht Junior Cup quarter final was scheduled for the same time, but Monivea/Abbey should still take a small shred of comfort from the fact that they competed well at times, created 19 scoring chances, and never dropped their heads despite the lost cause.
With no Connacht or All-Ireland club championship to have to try and peak for later in the year, Corofin look poised to lay down a serious marker on how far ahead of the pack they really are. New faces like Matthew Cooley and replacement Colin Kelly, who confidently netted two second-half goals on his debut, are being given their chance, while Ronan Steede, Martin Farragher, Bernard Power, and Daithí Burke were not required on this occasion.
Throw in the fact that Kevin O’Brien chose to keep Kieran Molloy and Gary Sice in reserve until deep into the second half and you start to seriously question whether any side in the county will be able to lay a glove on them this term. Ian Burke is motoring along nicely, Micheál Lundy appears revived back in a more attacking role, while veterans like Ciarán McGrath are haring around the pitch as if they have a point to prove.
Monivea/Abbey were lively all over the pitch early on and actually created one more scoring opportunity in the opening twelve minutes (5-4) but were unfortunately wasteful when it mattered and somehow found themselves trailing by 1-2 to 0-1.
Corofin’s movement and accuracy were already sublime, with Lundy, Burke, and Cooley lining up in an I formation down the middle of the attack and Darragh Silke offering himself as a highly effective link man in transition. Jason Leonard and Dylan Canney provided width when needed while the defensive Dylan’s, Wall and McHugh, tore forward when the chances arose.
Ian Burke’s sharp turn on eight minutes left Caelom Mulry in his wake, but when a goal looked likely Burke drove just over the bar. Three minutes later the dam broke when Lundy curled a pass into Cooley in space, and he picked out McHugh on the burst who slotted to the net at his ease.
A Brian Moran free registered Monivea/Abbey’s first score shortly after, but the die had already been cast. Jason Leonard drove over a ’45 after Burke had been denied by some last gasp defending before Canney clipped over a classy score where Lundy and Burke were involved again.

Extended report will appear in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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