herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Galway lack edge to trouble Mayo

Next Sunday, way out West, we have our very own Celtic v Rangers or perhaps more appropriate, Dublin v Meath showdown. It's been a while coming but the Old Firm of Galway and Mayo have not met at this stage since 2009. And the rivalry is a little like the two mentioned above - the traditional opponent is way off the pace and a dominance has been cemented.

Mayo are in search of a record equalling 4-in-a-row of titles. But their march to date has one serious omission - especially from a Mayo man's perspective: under James Horan, Mayo have yet to beat Galway in a final.

You can't blame Mayo for that missing achievement - Galway football has been at such a low ebb, they have failed to make it to the final two in that time.

Somewhere over the past few years Galway football started to be peripheral to the national and then provincial football discussion.

They slipped down the leagues, started losing a lot of games and are enduring a shocking Croke Park record since 2001. Galway got lost in their reluctance, or perhaps sluggishness, to embrace the modern game where pace, power, tackling and defensive strategies must be insisted upon just to be competitive.

But Galway have copped on to the modern football imperatives and when I witnessed them beating Sligo in the semi-final, they had certainly shifted both focus and priorities.

ADVANTAGE

Sunday's final will be played between two teams who now understand the physical and athletic advantage that allows you compete in the first instance and thereafter allows the skilled practitioners to emerge.

They know you can't have one without the other - just ask the good folk of Kerry if you are in any doubt.

But a Galway win? I can't see it - the tackling in contact by Mayo will be serious (and the tackling out of contact equally so!) and while Galway has the potential to trouble Mayo, they do not yet have the hard edge to topple them.

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