TRAINING DAY The Mayo senior squad prepare to hit Josie Munnelly Park in Castlebar last Sunday after their FBD League game against Galway was called off. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Here’s how Sunday’s game might have panned out in a parallel universe
IT was one of those days when Galway would have preferred if the game had been called off — maybe because of a frozen pitch — as Mayo showed just why they’re third favourites to win the All-Ireland, dishing out a 0-24 point hammering to the Tribesmen in last Sunday’s crunch FBD League clash.
Such was Mayo’s dominance — fuelled by the anger and sense of revenge that has carried over from the last two Connacht Championship defeats to Galway — you can’t help but wonder if this team can go all the way in 2018 and be crowned FBD Insurance League champions again?
Only time will tell, but if this new-look and inexperienced Mayo squad can continue to build momentum, will be there be any need for Cillian O’Connor, Keith Higgins and company to even come back from Malaysia?
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford resembled ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor as he addressed the media (who he greeted with ‘high-fives’) afterwards.
“Ah ya, lookit, I mean, I suppose, we were just a machine today,” he roared.
“We came into this game completely looking past Galway, who just were not on our level.
“Also, I thought the referee was shocking, it was like playing against 16 men at times, but that’s how good we were. FBD League champions for 2018! You heard it here first.”
Galway manager, Kevin Walsh, told reporters that as punishment for his side’s poor display, the bus would not be stopping in Supermac’s in Ballinrobe, Claremorris, Ballindine and Tuam on the way home.
It wasn’t Galway’s day, but then again, they never had a chance with the curveballs that Coach Rochford threw in his team selection.
Just as the ball was about to be thrown-up, David Clarke got the curly finger and was replaced by young Paddy O’Malley from Westport, who, instead of shaking Clarke’s hand on his way off, hit him an almighty shoulder before handing him a Cairde Maigheo customised walking stick.
Brian Reape continued his impressive goalscoring form by raising four green flags for the second game in a row, earning him the nickname ‘Another Four Goals Reape’ and making him the early favourite for Young Footballer of the Year.
Mayo’s All-Ireland winning Under-21 half-back line of Michael Plunkett, Michael Hall and Shairoze Akram could also be heard asking their Galway markers ‘how many All-Irelands do you have?’ The mind games seemed to pay off too as they filled their boots as well.
Meanwhile, Aidan O’Shea made an early return from Kuala Lumpur, parachuting into MacHale Park just after half-time and ordering Kevin Keane out of the full-back line as he took over at number three again!
But the ultimate winning of the game was the arrival of the dynamic duo of Alan Freeman and Barry Moran off the bench.
With the game in the melting pot, ‘Big Bird’ plucked a ‘mark’, hit ‘Freezer’ with a no-look outside of the left boot pass that would bring a tear to the eye of Ciarán McDonald, and the Aghamore man buried to the net.
Not content there, Freeman raised his jersey aloft to reveal the words ‘I’m back, Baby!’ written in permanent marker across his white under armour.
“I loved that,” laughed Rochford afterwards. “I want to see more of that!”