Rivals serve up a thriller

Comment & Opinion

IN THE SPOTLIGHT Mayo manager Kevin McStay got his league tenure off to a respectable start after drawing with rivals Galway in Hastings Insurance MacHale Park on Saturday evening. Pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Mayo and Galway have a lot to look forward to in 2023

THE GAA season is now truly up and running after the first round of the National Football League served up a thriller in MacHale Park on Saturday evening.
The Kevin McStay era got off to a very exciting start as old rivals Galway came to town and were denied victory with the very last kick of the game from the impressive Ryan O’Donoghue.
A huge crowd of close to 14,000 braved the chilly conditions and was treated to a great evening’s entertainment, as were those who watched the action live on RTÉ television.
There is something special about the rivalry between Mayo and Galway and currently both set-ups look very well placed to have a memorable 2023.
As evidenced by their run to the All-Ireland final last year, Galway are now firmly established as one of the best three teams in country, and the sheer quality and depth to their squad will mean both Kerry and Dublin will be taking the Galway challenge very seriously this year.
Mayo are on a different trajectory at present but the new management set-up will be heartened by Saturday’s performance and satisfied to pick up a point. McStay seems determined to give youth a chance and is also hopeful that hugely experienced players like Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea and Kevin McLoughlin still have a lot to offer.
The bookmakers still make Mayo fourth favourites for the All-Ireland title, behind the aforementioned Kerry, Dublin and Galway, but other sides like the northern quartet of Tyrone, Derry, Armagh and Donegal all look to be improving rapidly so the football championship could be one of the most exciting in recent years.
The new split season format has had its critics but teams will have little time to rest on their laurels as the action comes thick and fast over the next numbers of week. Mayo face a tricky trip to Armagh on Sunday next, while Mayo supporters will also be keeping a close eye on Pearse Stadium en route to Armagh, where Galway welcome Roscommon.
Davy Burke’s team were impressive in defeating Tyrone on Sunday and their championship clash with Mayo in MacHale Park on April 9 will be something to savour, especially given Kevin McStay’s close links to Roscommon.
There is something special about games under the lights in MacHale Park and Mayo supporters will undoubtedly be out in huge numbers again later in the month for home ties on Saturdays February 18 and 25 against Kerry and Tyrone. The season is truly up and running.