The players may be young, but the rivalry is as old as it comes. There is a historical resonance to the idea of Galway versus Mayo that permeates clashes between the teams at all levels, so much so that it can be the dominant theme even when the prize on offer is immense.
That was certainly the case last night at Dr. Hyde Park, when the traditional kingpins of Connacht football competed for the Tom Markham Cup – and for Galway manager Alan Glynn, forgetting about the rivalry and focusing instead on maximising the strengths of his own team, as well as negating Mayo’s strengths, was central to the victory.
“Today wasn’t a day for revenge on Mayo, that wasn’t even our thought process in our head” Glynn said after his team’s 0-15 to 0-9 victory in the 2022 Electric Ireland All-Ireland final.
“We went at it like it was a brand new game and a brand new team. Mayo had produced some excellent attacking football all year and we kept them to nine points, their lowest score all season. The one-on-one in the first two minutes, that was a massive save by Kyle (Gilmore)”.
Glynn spoke about his team’s excellent defensive work, particularly in the full back line where Ryan Flaherty, Vinny Gill and man of the match Tomás Farthing were in top form, but he singled out his goalkeeper as a key player, citing their ability to retain their own kickout as vital to the victory.
“It was the outfield players’ job to provide the space. We said ‘if you do that, Kyle will hit you’, and that’s exactly what happened. It’s very easy to point to a goalkeeper when kickouts don’t go your way, like the last six kickouts against Derry but maybe that’s the best thing that happened to us. It focused our minds and our outfield players knew they had to move and make space. He’s a class act”.
“We really should have got more scores off our own kickouts but what I’m most proud of was the tenacious defending. The blocks, the tackles, we were saying all year to the lads, it gives everyone a boost when we get a block, tackle, turnover and we have pace and space then to take advantage of that going the other way. It worked to a tee”.
After winning both games between the counties in the Connacht championship, Mayo manager Seán Deane dismissed the idea that nervousness was a factor in his team’s defeat, instead citing the difficulty in playing to the best of your ability consistently over a long season.
“I don’t think in any way, shape or form that it was nerves but I do think any team that goes through a championship season and plays eight games, you will get a dip somewhere along the line” said the Breaffy club man.
“Unfortunately, our dip came in an All-Ireland final whereas Galway’s dips came when they could recover from it. That was the difference. If we performed like this in Tuam or Castlebar, well things could be a little bit different” he said, ruefully.
By Kevin Egan