The first big match between two footballing giants takes place on Sunday in MacHale Park with plenty at stake for both sides as Mayo play Galway at 4pm.
A loss will mean either side will be looking at winning 7 games to get to an All-Ireland final weekend, while a win will almost guarantee them a place in the Super 8’s.
Galway had a much better league campaign compared to Mayo, but we all know Mayo when it comes to championship are a different animal. They will meet for the sixth consecutive year in Connacht, with Mayo winning three times, 2013, 2014 and 2015. However, the last two seasons has seen Galway turn the screw winning both games narrowly. The sides are quite familiar with each other and this season they have already met twice, this will be the third obviously. Galway have both games this year in the FBD League 1-10 o 1-09 and in the league 1-13 to 0-11, so it seems everything is in Galway’s favour. Both sides have talented littered throughout their teams. Mayo will look to player like Diarmuid O’Connor, Cillian O’Connor if deemed fit to play, Aidan O’Shea and the returning Keith Higgins. Galway have firepower of their own with Damian Comer, Shane Walsh and Paul Conroy pulling the strings. Galway will be boosted also by the news that Lee Keegan will play no part in this game, so you would have to say going on statistics Galway have a big chance here. However, we won’t know more until the teams are announced on Friday evening.
Galway Manager Kevin Walsh – “We’re still underdogs, there’s no doubt about that, We’re still playing the second best team in Ireland.
“But, I suppose, the expectation is that we’ll run them very, very close. If you go back three or four years ago when we were playing Mayo there wasn’t as much talk as there is now and there’s a reason for that. Us performing reasonably well in Division 1 is going to build those expectations.”
Mayo Manager Stephen Rochford :”Galway have really laid down a marker again, not just with us but throughout the league.
“So I expect a tough, physical, proper Connacht championship game, with very little of a margin in it in the end.
“I know that there’s been maybe a little bit more made of it than necessary, but they have a lot of big, physical guys, but I don’t see them being a particularly dirty team to be honest, or anything like that.”
Going on history, of the 88 championship games between the sides Mayo have the slight edge winning 41, while Galway have 40, will Galway make it even stevens? Or will there be a draw for the first time since 1992 between the sides guess we all have to tune into to RTE on Sunday to find out! In terms of betting Mayo are favourites at 8/11 and Galway are 6/4, while the draw is a nice looking 15/2.
I fancy Mayo to win this, they tend to play well when it matters most, I would back them to win by 1-3 points at 13/5. The winners of the game play Sligo in the Connacht semi-final on June 3rd. Enjoy the game it promises to be exciting.