Galway v Mayo: Connections and the talking points

July 2009: Conor Mortimer celebrates the second Mayo goal in the Connacht SFC final against Galway at Pearse Stadium by lifting his jersey to reveal his tribute to Michael Jackson.  Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

CONNACHT SFC FINAL:
Mayo v Galway

John O’Mahony

O’Mahony coached Mayo to the All-Ireland final in 1989 which ended with a disappointing outcome in the final against Cork. Eight years later, in autumn 1997, he took over from Val Daly in Galway.

Fast forward 12 months and Galway were All-Ireland champions. After seven years in charge of Galway, O’Mahony went back with Mayo and lost a Connacht final in 2008 to a few of his former charges.

St Jarlath’s College

For generations, when St Jarlath’s was a boarding school, young Mayo students with an interest in Gaelic football came in the gates of St Jarlath’s and formed strong bonds and friendships with their Galway counterparts.

Many of those Mayo youngsters went on to win Hogan Cups in the blue of Jarlath’s and went back to represent Mayo with distinction at all grades. That overlap of players used to make Galway and Mayo championship games extra special.

Boarding is no longer an option at the Tuam school, but the institution set in place a rivalry to stand the test of time.

Tomás Tierney

Tierney is a native of Milltown and played his colleges football at St Jarlath’s and NUI Galway. He then went on to play with Galway at all levels, including senior, and was on the team that lost the All-Ireland final to Dublin in 1983.

As a secondary teacher in Westport, Tomás threw in his lot with the local club and transferred to Mayo. He subsequently represented the county in the Connacht championship against Galway. Tierney now has his own deer farming business and sells his venison at the market in Moycullen, Co Galway, every Friday.

Maurice Sheridan

Sheridan was a top-class free-taker and was a regular on John Maughan’s teams in the 1990s, featuring in both the 1996 and 1997 All-Ireland finals.

Sheridan moved to Galway and transferred to Salhtill/Knocknacarra to play his club football and captained that club to the All-Ireland Club final in March 2006. Another former Mayo county player, Gordon Morley, was centre-back on that side too.

Sheridan now teaches and coaches in Claregalway and is also involved with club football as coach with senior side Carna-Caiseal.

Conor Mortimer

Mortimer was a student at St Jarlath’s and his home club, Shrule, is only over the Mayo border from Galway. His family have a sand quarry in Belclare in Galway and the Mortimers would be well known in the county.

“The Mort” was always a high scorer for his county and he will always be remembered in Galway for two reasons. One was his late free in the Connacht final in 2006.

Secondly, in the Connacht final in 2009, when Mayo again won by a single point, Conor scored a goal and lifted his jersey to reveal a personal tribute to the deceased Michael Jackon.

It read “RIP — Micheal Jackson”

Aidan O’Shea

James Horan has pushed his All Star midfielder into number 11 for Sunday’s clash. A lot of people will be intrigued to see if the big Breaffy man can make the adjustment to that role successfully. And if so, how does that improve Mayo’s chances for the rest of the season?

Have Andy Moran and Alan Dillon still got it?

Both men are former All Stars but the feeling in some football quarters is that if Mayo’s challenge for All-Ireland glory is still dependant on Moran and Dillon being the main men for them, then Horan’s dream is in big trouble.

Dillon played and scored 1-2 in the 2004 All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry (1-20 to 2-09). Has he the legs to MacHale Park 10 years on? Or more pertinently, big games in Croke Park?

Galway’s Shane Walsh

How good is he? I have seen Walsh score sideline kicks, and 45s off both feet as a youngster. He is outrageously skilful in possession, has tremendous pace and is gorgeous to watch in full flight.

However, he has a lot to prove and can get caught in possession and overplay the ball. No doubt Colm Boyle et al will not be long in testing his temperament and decision-making ability at inter-county senior level.

Have Galway learned from last year?

Watching Galway concede 4-16 and turn over ball unnecessarily, time and again, in their full-back line against Mayo last year was gruesome stuff. The Galway football public expect a far superior display this weekend. Will Mulholland set them up defensively as John Evan’s did with Roscommon?

Mayo appear to have gone back a bit from last season and looked flat in Hyde Park, but can Galway improve sufficiently to challenge them?

Will Mayo do the four-in-a-row?

Mayo have not won four consecutive Connacht titles since 1951. To do so in two days’ time would be a fabulous achievement and a feather in James Horan’s managerial hat.

If they do so, they will have done it by beating four different teams in the four provincial finals. Roscommon (2011), Sligo (2012), London (2013) and perhaps Galway in 2014.


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