FLASHBACK FRIDAY Mayo's Lee Keegan takes on Galway's Thomas Flynn during the 2015 Connacht SFC semi-final at Pearse Stadium in Salthill Pic: Sportsfile
1. Unwanted record for losers
WHOEVER loses on Saturday will, for the first time ever, have lost to their two biggest Connacht rivals in the one championship campaign.
Both Mayo and Galway have lost at the hands of the Rossies in this year’s Connacht championship and defeat on Saturday will compound their misery.
As if there wasn’t enough at stake!
2. Party like it’s 1999 for winners
IT’S also the first clash between the two in a knockout championship game since the 1999 Connacht Final.
The Qualifiers, introduced in 2001, have ensured that every Mayo v Galway Connacht Championship game since has come with a safety net.
It is also the first time the two counties are playing a championship game both outside of the Connacht Championship and outside of the province itself.
For those who want reminding, it was of course Mayo who won that Connacht Final in 1999, defeating the reigning All-Ireland champions in an unforgettable day in Tuam.
3. Unique record on track for Mayo
SHOULD Mayo win on Saturday, they will assure themselves of a unique record. Victory over Galway will mean 2019 will be the first ever year that they will play a championship match in each of the four provinces (and that’s before we even mention New York!).
Mayo have already played in Connacht, naturally; Ulster, away to Down; while Sunday brings them to Munster. Victory will see them in a Super 8s group that starts with an away day in Kerry before playing in Croke Park against the winners of Meath and Clare, to tick the Leinster box and complete the record.
It’s an achievement only made possible since the advent of the Qualifiers, bringing Mayo into Munster and Ulster, whereas before that games were largely limited to Connacht and, if things went well, Leinster.
Since the Qualifiers came into play, Mayo have played in three of the four provinces on four occasions (2002, 2014, 2017 and 2018), but never in all four, with Ulster the least frequent destination.
The game against Down was only Mayo’s second ever championship game up there after defeat to Derry in 2007.
By comparison. Saturday will be Mayo’s seventh championship game in Munster since 2002, and their fourth in The Gaelic Grounds.
Outside of Croke Park, they have played two championship games in Leinster in the Qualifier era, both ending in defeats in Longford and Newbridge.
4. Managers meet for first time in a while
IT’S the first time in seven years that Mayo manager James Horan will pit his wits against Kevin Walsh, the Galway manager, in championship action.
That was in the 2012 Connacht Final when Walsh was the manager of Sligo. Mayo won that game in Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon by 0-12 to 0-10 en route to an All-Ireland Final defeat to Donegal.
The two passed like ships in the night in 2014.
Horan resigned after a four-year term the night of Mayo’s infamous All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Kerry, ironically in Limerick, on August 30, 2014.
The next month Walsh took over from Alan Mulholland as Galway manager and has been there since.
After defeat to Mayo in the 2015 Connacht Championship semi-final, Walsh has led Galway to consecutive championship wins over Mayo in the three years that followed.
Horan, however, has an unblemished championship record in managing against Galway. One record is going to have to come to an end in Limerick.
5. Some Mayo players looking for first win over Galway
OF the Mayo team that started against Armagh last Saturday, six of them have yet to play in a Mayo team which triumphed over Galway in a senior championship game.
The figures would doubtlessly be higher were it not for the staying power of many of the Mayo crew on the go since 2011 and before.
Brendan Harrison, Paddy Durcan, Mikey Murray, Fionn McDonagh, Ciarán Treacy and Conor Loftus have yet to experience a victory over Galway.
However, Murray, McDonagh and Treacy have all yet to experience defeat too as well, as this is their first season. But for Durcan and Harrison, in particular, established starters that they are, it is a record they will want to free themselves from.
It is the 2015 Connacht semi-final since Mayo last beat Galway in the championship and that was the last game in an incredible period of dominance for Mayo in the clash. Their 2016 defeat was the first time they were turned over by Galway since the 2008 Connacht Final.
Aidan O’Shea, for instance, had never tasted defeat to Galway at any level, prior to that. Now it is Galway players who are unfamiliar with losing to their rivals.
Of the Galway team that started their Connacht Final defeat to Roscommon, incredibly nine of them do not know what it is like to lose to Mayo in senior championship football.
Mayo will be hoping the run does not stretch to seven seasons like their dominant spell over Galway from 2009-2015.