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Mayo and Galway ready to resume traditional hostilities

 

Tactics: James Horan is plotting Galway’s downfall
Tactics: James Horan is plotting Galway’s downfall
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Another year, another chance for Galway and Mayo to nip at each other.

Kept apart in Connacht with Roscommon beating both, they nonetheless meet for the seventh consecutive year, this time for the first time ever in the qualifiers.

Under James Horan in his first spell, Mayo always had the Indian sign over their neighbours, a trend that continued into the solitary year of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly's reign.

The arrival of Kevin Walsh and Galway going a different direction with their football altered all of that.

A defensive structure, which has been worked on for a while but only really truly polished last year with the inclusion of Paddy Tally in the backroom, has been enough to dash Mayo in their 2016, '17 and '18 meetings.

Galway's hopes are badly damaged by the amount of midfielders unavailable for them at present.

Cein D'Arcy (hand), Fiontáin Ó Curraoin (hamstring), Ciaran Duggan (knee), Tom Flynn (foot) and Peter Cooke (foot) are all sidelined.

Kevin Walsh said he is hoping that two of the remaining four pull through.

"It's torture at the minute," said Walsh. "Cein D'Arcy got a bad hand injury during the week; Ciaran Duggan won't be returning for this one; Fiontáin Ó Currain is nursing a hamstring injury; and Tom Flynn and Peter Cooke are under pressure with foot injuries as well.

"So our five midfielders are under pressure. Hopefully, one or two will come through by the end of the week but we'll see."

Mayo are not without their injury worries too.

Lee Keegan was forced off early against Armagh last weekend with ankle ligament damage. It would seem highly unlikely that the man who scored three crucial second half points against Down to rescue them will play any part.

It was also reported this week that Aidan O'Shea's right foot is in a cast, and Jason Doherty has been rehabilitating an injured ankle all week.

The final Saturday night game in the qualifiers is Cork against Laois.

There is very little that Laois manager John Sugrue will not know about Cork, being a Kerryman himself and having lived in Cork for a spell.

The Rebels may have suffered relegation to Division Three but manager Ronan McCarthy seems to have gone a long way to rescuing their season in the Championship.

After hammering Limerick 3-18 to 0-6, they followed that up by putting in a very credible performance against Kerry in the Munster final, losing by three points, 3-10 to 1-19.

It's been five seasons since Cork were last in the All-Ireland quarter-finals stage which is something else for a team that showed remarkable consistency throughout the previous decade, culminating in their 2010 All-Ireland title.

Tomorrow brings the final day of the Round Four qualifiers, when Meath face off in an intriguing tie against a useful Clare side.

Their Leinster final tanking will seem like a distant memory for Meath if they can pull off a win against resolute Clare, but there is nothing simple in this task.

That being said, when they met in Division Two of the league this year, Meath won that 1-12 to 1-7, backing up league wins in 2018 and 2017.

With that history, a Clare win seems unlikely.

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