Gary Fahy fears for Galway’s future

It is more than 100 years since Mayo last beat Galway five times in succession in championship football.

Gary Fahy fears for Galway’s future

And how the Connacht champions’ new management team of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly would love to match that feat tomorrow.

Galway are on a horrific run against their arch-rivals; having been beaten in the championship by Mayo in 2009 (Connacht final), 2011, 2013 (by 17 points) and in the Connacht decider last year by seven points.

And with the extremely talented Shane Walsh injured, the omens are worrying for Kevin Walsh’s charges.

The last time Galway were out of the running for provincial honours for over six years was the barren spell from 1987 until 1995.

Gary Fahy was full-back for three years before he enjoyed provincial success and the double All-Ireland winner is worried about the current state of affairs in Galway.

As director of Regulatory affairs with Teleflex in Athlone — his assessments are based on validity, legitimacy and facts.

“If you strip away all the hope and expectation and look at the facts, Mayo have been far superior to Galway over the past four years. The only question to be answered is: Will that change tomorrow?

“It is fine down in the pub making outlandish statements about what might or might not happen.

“However, if you ask the simple question — how many of the Galway team would make the current Mayo team? And see what answer you get, it tells you where you are at.”

If over the past four years James Horan had access to any of the Galway squad to try and help Mayo win that elusive All-Ireland — how many players would he have availed of? Finian Hanley to try and nullify the aerial damage at full-back by the likes of Donaghy and Murphy? Michael Lundy for some pace and guile up front? Paul Conroy perhaps? Shane Walsh to augment their scoring power.

Two or three players, at a push. Hence how can we expect Galway to beat the four times provincial winners?

Fahy thinks Galway have to think strategically.

“Galway have to start at grassroots level again if we are talking about competing consistently at the top levels. Look at how Tipperary have progressed. We need a long-term development plan to map out where we want to go. In the short term, over the next three years, and I think Kevin will do this — it is important to have stability in the panel. Pick your best 20 or 25 players and stick with them, with the odd exception.

“Constant change only leads to chaos. Mayo and Roscommon are good sides and both will play in Division One next season. With five Northern teams in Division Two in 2016 — Galway will have it tough to get out of there. It is very difficult to beat Division One teams in championship unless you are playing them regularly.”

Mayo’s Billy Fitzpatrick whose first championship game was in 1965 and whose last was in 1985 agrees with Fahy.

However he is apprehensive about tomorrow’s clash.

“The bubble bursts for every team at some stage. Be that, at county or club level. Sometimes a team just bottoms out. And we never know for sure when that is going to happen.

“We hammered the Galway three-in-a-row team in 1967 in Pearse Stadium by 11 points and nobody saw that coming. They were just a tired team and their cycle ended. What is keeping this current group of Mayo players together is the fact that they have not won an All-Ireland. They are still bursting a gut to try and make that happen.”

Fitzpatrick, who saw Mayo go without a provincial title from 1969 until 1981, believes that Galway will need incremental progress to make the breakthrough.

And Galway have not really progressed over the past few years. For example, Donal O’Neill and Aonghus Tierney were the two corner-backs last season in the Connacht final and neither are on the panel this year.

Joss Moore, Keith Kelly, Daithí Burke and Greg Higgins all saw championship action in defence last season too, and for a variety of reasons none are involved this weekend.

Fitzpatrick is an experienced analyst with Mid-West Radio and he is firm in his view it will take time for Kevin Walsh to turn Galway around.

“You are looking at 24 to 36 months. I give Galway a fighting chance tomorrow, however you have to plug for a Mayo win.

“Unless Galway start really well and put some real doubt into Mayo heads, then it will be Mayo in the Connacht final. This Mayo team play for the full 70 minutes and they are still clinging to the dream of winning an All-Ireland. They will want to win and have another crack at that, and I expect they will.”

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