Kevin McStay says Galway have 'ticked all the boxes' during their unbeaten league campaign as their Connacht Championship date with Mayo comes into sight.

The Tribesmen routed Derry on Sunday to seal promotion back to Division 1 at the first attempt and are the only team in all four divisions to boast a 100% record.

Given the short gap between league and championship, which has been made even shorter by virtue of Galway reaching the league final, McStay felt a good league campaign was vital for Padraic Joyce's side ahead of their Connacht quarter-final showdown on 24 April.

McStay told the RTÉ GAA Podcast: "This was always going to be a big year for Galway. It had to be, in both the league and the championship.

"Galway couldn’t afford to just wander through the league, win three and lose four, because the morale of the Galway supporter is a delicate thing at the best of times. He has to be nourished and brought forward, or he won’t show up at all for the championship.

"The draw with Mayo was brilliant for Galway in that they had immediate focus for their season.

"The gap between the league and championship was short enough for them to say, 'we have to leave the league in form with a team that is consistent, that we know our best XV and the next three or four subs’.

"They’ve ticked all those boxes."

Galway had four different goalscorers in their 11-point thumping of Derry at Owenbeg with Matthew Tierney hitting 1-03 and Dessie Conneely 1-02. The only negative was an injury to Damien Comer, who was forced off early in the second half.

"Galway had a strong team out against Derry," said McStay. "Paul Conroy, Comer, Tierney, Cillian McDaid – they are typical good Galway footballers, plenty of style and confidence in their own ability.

"Galway are in good shape. If they’d sat down to plan it six months ago, they couldn’t have done it any better.

"They’re getting ready to play Mayo and that will be a massive game because Mayo are a tried-and-trusted formidable Division 1 outfit. They have their sights on big things too."

Aidan O'Shea played at centre-back against Tyrone last Saturday

A Mayo victory against Kildare in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday will book their place in the Division 1 final against Kerry.

James Horan's side suffered a two-point defeat against Tyrone last weekend and McStay questioned the decision to play Aidan O’Shea at centre-back in Omagh.

"For a very experienced player, I’d be going to my manager and saying, ‘I’m being thrown around everywhere’. Every week he seems to have a different jersey," McStay said.

"No matter how versatile you are or where you are with your career, you want the reassurance of ‘this is the position I’m in’. The championship is only four weeks away."

While questions persist over O’Shea’s best position, McStay said Cillian O’Connor’s continued absence through injury is also a concern.

"Mayo’s midfield is solid, they’re very pleased with that," said McStay. "They know their backline from the Kerry game.

"It’s up front [where they have issues]. Cillian O’Connor hasn’t been seen. His Achilles is not going to plan by all accounts. Imagine if you had Ryan O’Donoghue, Tommy Conroy and Cillian O’Connor, and they were all in good shape and form.

"Mayo are fierce unlucky with Conroy and Cillian is definitely a worry. Even if he comes back for round seven, which I don’t think he will, the gap to Galway is probably too tight."

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