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The Stunned Mayo Reaction To A Shock Connacht Championship Defeat

The Stunned Mayo Reaction To A Shock Connacht Championship Defeat
By Paul McNulty
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Mayo fans are in shock tonight after their side's 1-12 to 0-12 defeat at the hands of Galway in Castlebar. Before the game, the question was whether Galway would be able to keep the score to a respectable level.

Mayo had handed out hidings in Connacht over the course of their five-year reign as champions and most observers thought that trend would continue. The bookmakers certainly did - making Galway the 5/1 outsiders to beat Mayo for the first time in eight years.

Mickey Conroy, who was a member of the Mayo squad until a couple of months ago tweeted this morning:

But a Thomas Flynn goal proved the difference between the sides at the end of a scrappy game in Mac Hale Park. Mayo went 30 minutes in the first half without a score from play and then ripped of six points in a nine-minute burst. The fact that they only scored another six points in the remaining 61 minutes has to be a serious concern to Mayo.

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But Kevin Walsh had Galway well prepared. He was scoffed at earlier in the week when he said his side had closed the gap on Mayo since last year. The fact that 52 players refused to even come training with Walsh's side was seen as a sign of the lack of passion in the squad. That didn't show for a minute in Castlebar this evening.

The five debutants for Galway were outstanding. Bernard Power in goal was the Tribesmen's version of Stephen Cluxton... picking out his men at ease and making a mockery of whatever type of defensive scheme Stephen Rochford had put in place.

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Man of the Match Paul Conroy (pictured below) was everywhere - he finished with 31 possessions and bagged 0-2 from play for himself. Shane Walsh was a constant menace for a Mayo side that looked uneasy from the beginning.

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The experiment to play Kevin McLoughlin as a sweeper was a disaster. Mayo were eaten alive by the Galway midfield and Galway fully deserved their place in the Connacht final against Roscommon.

Paul Conroy admitted it was easy enough for the Galway side to motivate themselves for the trip to Castlebar.

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"We weren't given a chance coming up here [to Castlebar] today. People were talking about a Mayo-Roscommon Connacht final. It's great for Galway football and we're just delighted."

The reaction to Mayo's defeat in the Sky Sports studio was damning. Peter Canavan said Mayo's performance was "atrocious" and James Horan - the man many Mayo supporters wish was still on the sideline for Mayo instead of in a studio - said that Mayo were "terrible" and if there was a loose ball - "inevitably it was a Galway guy who won it".

The reaction on Twitter was no less harsh as Mayo now set sail to become the first side to win the All-Ireland through the qualifiers since Cork in 2010. But it literally is a coin-flip for Mayo - who have played 10 qualifier games and only won five. Their last experience was in 2010 - losing to Longford by a point in what was John O'Mahony's last match.

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If Stephen Rochford endures a similar outcome - the same fate might lie in store for him.

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