Pádraic Joyce has enough experience of clashes between Galway and arch rivals Mayo to know form counts for little when they go into battle.
Joyce arrived on the scene in 1998 when he and a band of young guns put paid to Mayo’s hopes of a third Connacht title in a row as they turned them over in MacHale Park in Castlebar in the opening round of the championship.
Mayo, who hadn’t completed a provincial three in a row since twice lifting Sam Maguire at the start of the 1950s, had been beaten in the two previous All-Ireland finals by Kerry and Meath.
And if it wasn’t bad enough for Mayo to have their title bid undone by a side managed by one of their own John O’Mahony, Joyce and Galway rubbed salt in the wound by going all the way and lifting the All-Ireland that year.
The level of expectation which has built up around Galway since the new manager took charge has led to fans hoping history repeats itself but Joyce knows they will be put to the pin of their collar at Pearse Stadium by a Mayo side trying to stave off relegation from Division 1.
And Joyce, while no doubt buoyed by four wins from five, will be quick to point out that Galway’s championship ended last summer when Mayo triumphed in the qualifiers in Limerick.
“When we were looking at the league we were saying, between ourselves and Mayo, one of us would be fighting for a place in the final and the other would be more than likely battling relegation. And that is that case. It is going to add extra spice to the match.
“We could have been in the same spot as they are. We won two games by a point. But in fairness to James Horan, the one thing about him, is he is introducing young blood all the time. He is building for the championship more than likely and next year.
“They have three points, they only need to get another three to keep them safe. They will come to Galway guns blazing. It won’t be a disaster if they get relegated but it won’t help them. Even for ourselves here in Galway, we don’t get to play Mayo too often in these important big league matches. It’s normally championship. For the crowds and for the two counties it is great that the two of us are in Division 1.”
Wins over Monaghan, Donegal, Tyrone and Meath, with a late loss away to Kerry in the second round, have left Galway top of the table as they prepare to conclude their campaign with home ties against league title holders Mayo and All-Ireland champions Dublin. “We are under no illusions they are going be two really hard games.
Two massive home games playing the two best teams that have been in the GAA the last six or seven years. Two great tests for our lads to see where we are exactly at. It will be good for us and we are looking forward to it,” added Joyce, whose only injury concern is a hamstring problem which experienced defender Liam Silke is battling with.