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‘Galway are now in a dire situation’ — Clerkin

The former midfielder feels that the Tribesmen will look back at their round 3 match with regret and feel they took Armagh for granted

Former Monaghan star Dick Clerkin believes that Galway and Mayo’s failure to fully focus on their round 3 group matches has left the Connacht sides in dire straits.

The Farney man says that while Galway were ticking all the right boxes so far this season, their naivety to go full throttle against Armagh now sees them tasked with facing a Mayo team looking to right some wrongs in a preliminary quarter-final this weekend.

If you were listening to me over the last couple of months, you’d be putting Galway and Mayo up as two of the top-four teams,” says Clerkin.

“I’ve been praising Galway for months and now both teams have to face each other in a knockout in Salthill.

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“In terms of excitement it’s great but, from a team’s point of view, I’d say a lot of sides will look back and feel that they were too complacent and didn’t treat the final round like a proper championship match.

“And that translated into a below-par performance (on Sunday), and we saw it. Mayo got caught, Monaghan were flat, and Tyrone were nearly eliminated.

“It must be especially hard for Mayo and Galway in particular. I’d say Kevin McStay and Pádraic Joyce are scratching their heads wondering what the hell have they got their selves into after all the work they’ve done.”

While the former midfielder praised the Tribe as a side more than capable of winning an All-Ireland, he criticised their mentality, believing their failure to take the Armagh game seriously has now loosened their control in the championship.

“Looking at Galway, I felt they’ve ticked so many boxes over the last few weeks as an All-Ireland winning team.

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“They’re fit, physical, fast, have a strong spine and they have the experience of being there last year.

“Now I’ve been critical of Armagh because I thought they were falling back but they brought a serious level of intensity that caught a Galway side who I feel weren’t fully focused on that match as a must-win game.

“I think Galway thought they were already in a quarter-final and were already looking to the next match.

“Whereas now by not winning that Armagh game they’re in a dire situation.”

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Speaking on the Throw-in Podcast, Clerkin states that Galway and Mayo’s naivety and failure to improve game after game has only put Kerry and Dublin firmly back in the hot seat as top contenders for the Sam Maguire.

“Going out with the mindset of picking and choosing what games you want to focus on, you just can’t do that in top-level sport.

“There’s such a narrow window now that you’ve got to find form quickly and get players up to championship fitness.

“You can’t give yourself a day off and take a step back in the hope that you’ll ramp yourself back up. It just doesn’t work.

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“We see that experience with Kerry and Dublin. They’re two teams that haven’t set the world alight but they’re improving incrementally every game. They focus on one game at a time.

“Now all the aces are in their hands and all the pretenders are fighting for scraps.”

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