Peter Canavan: Mayo-Galway a result neither James Horan nor Padraic Joyce wanted?

Sky Sports analyst Peter Canavan reviews the return of National Football League this week.

Mayo’s win over Galway was undoubtedly the story of last weekend.

I would say the result of the game would have left both managers scratching their heads after the game. Pádraic Joyce from the point of view that although it was an inexperienced team he wasn’t fully expecting to win but certainly he wouldn’t be expected to get hammered in the manner in which they did.

From James Horan’s point of view, Mayo were coming very quietly into the championship. In recent months, most people were predicting Galway would win Connacht.

What this victory has done has very much put Mayo back in the limelight. Whereas James will be happy with a win, the performance really put them back out in the shop window again and I’d say that’s not ideal from his point of view. He’ll have preferred going into the championship under the radar which they very much were prior to their trip to Tuam.

So it’s probably not the result, strangely enough, that either manager would have wanted.

I would have expressed concern about Mayo’s punch upfront and James has obviously addressed that with the intention of playing Aidan O’Shea inside, and I don’t think he’ll be just doing that as a bluff. I think it’s a serious option for Mayo going forward in the championship this year. And with Tommy Conroy and Cillian O’Connor at either side of him that’s a very impressive forward line.

As for Mark Moran, I think it’s a bit early to judge him but if he continues in that vain of form what an asset he’s going to be. And probably their best player on Sunday was their cornerback Oisin Mullin, very good in terms of moving forward with the ball and creating chances. But the question remains, will we find out more about him when he has to mark somebody when they’re on the backfoot? But overall there were very encouraging signs from a Mayo point of view.

McKenna makes an immediate impact

I was surprised when I saw Conor McKenna on Tyrone’s starting team on Sunday.

I didn’t think he would compete and play the way that he actually is. I thought he would have needed a bit more time to adjust to the pace of the game.

It was obvious from what Mickey Harte had seen in training that he was producing the goods and that was very evident once the game started. Not only was he able to get himself in good scoring positions and take those chances but he had a couple of quality passes as well and was able to stand up the physicality.

Not many can take Michael Murphy head on; McKenna was game enough, and it didn’t take a flinch out of him!

That was probably the most pleasing aspect from a Tyrone point of view. He has adapted quicker than many expected and he gives Mickey serious options moving forward.

McKenna is a completely different type of player than Cathal McShane. But he gives Tyrone another attacking threat which they didn’t have.

But Tyrone need to find results quickly, as they face Mayo in a must-win tie on Sunday. Should Monaghan overcome Meath – which you would expect them to do – the loser of Tyrone-Mayo will be relegated to the second tier.

I wouldn’t say a Farney win a forgone conclusion though if Meath put out a strong team, even though they’ve nothing to play for.

I think the Royals have been very competitive this year. They should have beaten Mayo, they had the beating of Dublin if they had taken their chances. The fact they are sitting with no points doesn’t tell the true story of their season this year.

They are a team that has improved under Andy McEntee. There are no guarantees Andy will want to come with a full strength team because he has the championship the following week. That’s not as straightforward as some people might believe it is for Monaghan.

But the Tyrone and Mayo game both sides will be looking at it as a must-win if they’re to retain their Division 1 status. Going on last weekend, there’s no doubt about it that Mayo are the form team. They’re moving really well and if they can retain their efficiency up front, they scored 2-17 out of 21 attempts in the first half, Tyrone are going to be in for a hard time.

Championship gets green light

Finally, I think the right decision has been made by the Irish government on Monday.

Looking at the bigger picture, the mental wellbeing of everybody in the country will need something to look forward to. The fact that players are going out now with the protocols that are in place, I think they’re not putting themselves at risk. They’re not stopping anywhere, they’re not stopping to eat out anywhere, they’re not meeting other groups of people.

The GAA have worked hard to make sure that it is a safe environment that the players are playing in. I think the right decision has been made and it’s something we can look forward to for the rest of the winner.

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