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Regrets? Mayo will have a few

Sport

Talking Tactics
Billy Joe Padden

IT’S Sunday evening as I put these thoughts into words and right now I feel angry and frustrated by what I saw unfold earlier at Pearse Stadium.
Who knows what the future holds for Mayo now but they haven’t played well for quite a long time, and there are no guarantees that they come back from this latest setback.
There are a few aspects of this defeat to Galway though that requires some closer examination.
I felt that Mayo needed to approach the second half of Sunday’s game in a completely different way to the first half — given the wind behind them and the fact that Galway had an extra man after Keith Higgins’ sending off.
But for some reason Stephen Rochford decided to send the team back out with the same gameplan as they had employed in the opening period, and it just didn’t work.
It was the wrong decision and, ultimately, even though Galway didn’t play particularly well, they won the game.
I thought Mayo were excellent in the first half and played exactly as I had hoped they would, especially given the fact that they were playing against the wind.
Galway were passive, even with the strong gale at their backs, and Mayo were dealing with whatever was being thrown at them.
But the whole dynamic of the game started to change when Keith Higgins was sent off in the 26th minute.
In fairness, Mayo got to half-time in one piece and, even in injury-time, they passed the ball sideways and kept possession. It was the right thing to do.
They were forcing Galway to kick long-range points and, while Damien Comer looked dangerous every time the ball came his way, Mayo had so much possession that he didn’t see a whole pile of action.
But at half-time things needed to be changed up.
I’d have brought Aidan O’Shea on, told David Clarke to go long with all the kick-outs down the middle to our big men, and tried to pin Galway into their own half.
With only 14 men, and down a set of lungs as much as anything, Mayo needed to play as much football as possible in the Galway half of the field.
Instead, by persisting with the short kick-outs in the second half, and trying to work our way up the field, we were expending energy and putting ourselves under pressure.
We played far too much football in our own half.
It was only in the last ten minutes that Mayo finally dispensed with the original tactic, and parked their obsession with retaining possession from restarts.
I wrote last week that I thought it would be a good idea to use Andy Moran as an impact sub against Galway.
My key point was that Mayo needed Andy on the field for the last twenty minutes, and I would love to have seen him or Kevin McLoughlin getting one or two of those late chances.
They’re both good kickers of the ball, very experienced, and I wouldn’t have had both of them in the dugout when the game was hanging in the balance.
Especially with the wind being such a big factor.
I thought Galway looked very tired near the end and, considering they had the extra man, that just adds to the frustration from a Mayo perspective.
With all our experience from all those All-Ireland Finals, we couldn’t come up with one point in the last six minutes to get us a result. We needed to sort something out but we couldn’t, and that leaves a bitter taste.
Evan Regan’s first miss came from a shot that was never on while his wide at the death lacked conviction, probably because his confidence was shot from the earlier effort.
That was where you needed a Moran or McLoughlin and, unfortunately, we learned that the hard way.

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