Former Mayo star Enda Varley previews the clash of Galway v Mayo. With both counties in 46 Connacht titles, the St Vincent’s and former Garrymore clubman looks at the key match-ups, the recent league game, and why Mayo are “switched on more” without a back door.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Enda Varley believes that Mayo have been more switched on during this year’s Connacht SFC because there is no back door.
The green and red have not won a provincial title since 2015 when completing a five-in-a-row, and four-time champ Varley notes that their eyes had been fixed on a bigger prize.
Mayo have qualified for two All-Ireland finals since — 2016 and 2017 — while Roscommon and Galway have evenly carved up the four Connacht title wins during that time timeframe.
Now, with the 2020 championship reverting to knockout from the beginning, Mayo have been fully focused on winning each game.
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They may have been relegated in the league but performed well when battering Galway 3-23 to 0-17, before narrowly failing in their comeback bid against Tyrone.
The Tribe have had no game since losing their final NFL clash against Dublin — with Varley noting their lack of energy, fight and game plan — while Sligo handed them a walkover in the Connacht semi-final due to Covid issues.
Mayo’s commanding provincial wins over Leitrim and Roscommon suggest James Horan’s side are in fine fettle heading into Sunday’s clash at Pearse Stadium.
“To be honest, the last few years was purely looking to the All-Ireland series,” says Varley.
“I don’t want to disrespect those teams in Connacht, but them teams caught Mayo on the hop.
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“If it wasn’t a back-door system, Mayo would have been switched on more.”
Varley also talks about Cillian O’Connor’s importance, their hopes of winning Sam Maguire, Galway playing Damien Comer in the league and losing him to injury, and Dublin’s hopes.
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FIXTURES (Sunday unless stated)
Connacht SFC final
Galway v Mayo, Pearse Stadium, 1.30pm – RTÉ2
Leinster SFC semi-finals
Dublin v Laois, Croke Park, 3.30pm – RTE NewsNow
Meath v Kildare, Croke Park, Croke Park, 1pm – RTE NewsNow
Ulster SFC semi-final
Cavan v Down, Athletic Grounds, 1.30pm – BBC NI
Donegal v Armagh, Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, Saturday 1.15pm – Sky