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How Is Your County Shaping Up Ahead Of This Year's Championship? - Connacht

How Is Your County Shaping Up Ahead Of This Year's Championship? - Connacht
By Conor Neville Updated

How each county seems to be shaping up for the championship. Tonight, we examine the contenders in Connacht. New York, excepted.

Mayo

More experimental than they have been in previous League campaigns, Stephen Rochford flipped up the car bonnet and had a poke around inside.

When asked about his spring ambitions at the pre-League launch in Croke Park, the manager set the modest target of 'survival'.

There was much excitable talk about a changing of the guard in the west in the early rounds of the League. This has quietened in the past fortnight. Mayo supporters appeared to take great satisfaction in

Mayo supporters appeared to take great satisfaction in pricking the Roscommon balloon in the penultimate match in Hyde Park. A rude reminder of the order of things in Connacht.

At the start of the year, all the talk was of developing a more streetwise and defensively sound approach for 2016. After conceding 7-91 across seven League games, that remains the ambition.

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Aidan O'Shea, who was a peripheral figure for the most part in the League, laboured that point before a ball was kicked.

When we've lost, we've conceded bad goals in the last couple of years. We need to tighten up at the back. We need to manage our games better. Regardless of whether it's the first minute or last minute we seem to play the same way. I don't think other teams do that. We need to be a bit more game smart. A lot of the things that we're doing are very, very good. But at certain times in games, we need to just hold the fort.

Odds: 8/11

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History:  

Connacht titles - 46  The leaders in the Nestor Cup tally, though they once went a whole decade (1970s) without winning one.

All-Ireland titles - 3  Lamentably, it's still only three.

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Roscommon 

The county isn't quite awash with the giddy euphoria that swept the place in early March. The nature of the loss to Mayo fed the fear that this season is essentially little different from the Evans years.

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Flattering to deceive in the spring only to look leaden-footed and ordinary come championship time.

The Rossie-sceptics essentially believe that the team are treating the League more seriously than their competitors. Therefore, it gives a distorted picture of their true standing. 

Sooner or later, they're going to have to prime themselves to peak in the summer.  

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Odds: 2/1

History: 

Connacht titles - 20  Punching well above their weight in provincial terms. They usually register at least one Connacht championship a decade. This one is already covered thanks to the bolt from the blue win in 2010.

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All-Ireland titles - 2  Back-to-back during the Emergency.

 

Galway

Ciaran Murphy noted that many Galway supporters were inclined to express relief at their county's failure to achieve promotion to Division 1. They're just not ready yet, etc. Ex-players Ray Silke and John Divilly couldn't disagree less.

After the demolition of Laois in the opener, those purists who are permanently ready to proclaim Galway's resurgence were already calling it. While the curious, draw-ridden nature of Division 2 this year left them with a shot of promotion until the death, the final stats reveal a mediocre League performance.

They showed resilience to squeeze a point out of their games against Armagh and Meath, but errors in front of goal cost them against Fermanagh and Cavan. For all the obvious talent within the team, too many of their performances are undermined by frustrating and, at times, baffling errors.

Galway were ruinously slow to adapt in the post-puke football era. The county was suffering from a disease known as 'contentment' following their two All-Ireland victories and didn't have the hunger to follow the Nordies down the grim, defensive path. Walsh has tried to change things but a decade on they are still playing catch up.

Still not equipped to take down Mayo in Castlebar, they'll do well to reach the quarter-final via the qualifiers.

Odds: 9/2

History:

Connacht championships: 44 - Slipped behind Mayo after the latest burst. They've been further behind in this battle. At the end of 1955, Mayo had won ten more Connacht titles than Galway. Following the 1974 season, Galway were two ahead.

All-Ireland titles - 9 Still the most successful football team in the West. After the 2013 humiliation against Mayo, a defiant Galway supporter texted the Sunday Game with the message 'Whatever happened today, one thing's for sure. Galway will win the All-Ireland before Mayo will!'

Sligo

What we've come to expect from Sligo in the League. Division 3 remains resolutely their level. Last year, they spanked Armagh at home, this year they startled their hosts in Newbridge.

However, poor results at home to Longford and down in Clare stymied their drive for promotion.

They unearthed a host of new players in last year's League - Daniel Maye, Criostior Davey and Niall Murphy. They will need to latter to build on his very strong League form.

Odds: 25/1

Connacht titles - 3  Poor compared to Roscommon. But then the Rossies don't have a League of Ireland team to compete for their people's affections.

Leitrim

Being told by the Carlow manager that he expected a tougher match is as bleak as it gets. A poor League campaign sees them third from bottom in the country, ahead of London and Waterford with a trip to Dungarvan to come.

Gary Reynolds and Barry Prior performed well in the League and the return of Emlyn Mulligan should give them a slight boost, for what it's worth.

Leitrim put in a heartening display in their sole Connacht match last year. The suspicion remains that Galway treated the match as less of a championship match in its own right and more of a trial run for how they would play against Mayo.

They've given the Rossies a fright in the past but it doesn't look doable nowadays.

Odds: 200/1

History:

Connacht championships - 2  The glorious year of 1994 recedes further into history

All-Ireland titles - 0

 

London

Have zero chance of advancement in Connacht this year seeing as it's Mayo's turn to visit Ruislip. Will need to ensure that they're properly tuned in for the qualifier run.

Read more: Is Dublin's Unbeaten Streak In Competitive Games The Longest In Modern GAA?

 

 

 

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