Galway footballers finished strongly to see off old rivals Mayo, for their third championship win in a row over the auld enemy.
Mayo 0-12 Galway 1-12
For the second year running a Mayo red card proved a major talking point in the game. On the 29th minute, Diarmuid O’Connor got a straight red card for an elbow on Galway’s Paul Conroy right under the nose of the referee, Cork’s Connor Lane.
The home team dominated possession in the opening stages of the game and put Galway’s defence under serious pressure, but not for the first time Mayo’s shooting let them down, and Galway picked of their scores on quick counter attacks. After the opening fifteen minutes despite having the lions share of possession Mayo found themselves behind on by 0-01 to 0-04.
Mayo gradually got a foothold in the game as Galway discipline started to let them down. The Galway full back line all picked up yellow cards during the first half of the game. And there was only a single score between the sides when O’Connor got his marching orders. Galway fluffed a goal chance shortly after this and a fine score from Mayo’s player of the year Andy Moran ensured there was only the minimum between the sides at the interval.
Keith Higgins levelled the sides up shortly after the resumption before Kevin McLoughlin put the fourteen men of Mayo ahead for the first time since the opening few minutes of the match.
Galway were struggling to make good use of the extra man during this opening period of the second half. Lateral passing and a slower tempo approach was beginning to suck the life out of the game. Shot selection from both sides was average at best. Shane Walsh made amends for dropping a poor shot into the grateful arms of Mayo keeper David Clarke with a well-struck point moments later. This brought the score to eight points apiece.
Serious injury to Tom Parsons lead to an extended break in play and Cillian O’Connor was introduced in place of Parsons, who departed to a rousing applause from both sets of fans. The game continued in a similar fashion on resumption. Shane Walsh and Andy Moran exchanged scores, before a brilliant long range effort form Ciaran Duggan on his championship debut for the tribesmen.
Cillian O’Connor for Mayo and Galway substitute Séan Kelly exchanged scores before Kevin McLoughlin levelled things up for Mayo at eleven points apiece as the game entered injury time.
The decisive score of the game arrived deep into stoppage time. Galway’s Adrian Varley clipped a delightful pass into fellow substitute Ian Burke, who swiftly laid it off to Séan Kelly, who in turn fed the onrushing Johnny Heaney who left his marker Colm Boyle trailing in his wake and blasted the ball past David Clarke.
A Cillian O’Connor free brought Mayo back to within two. Mayo then threw men forward to try and find a winning goal, but Galway with the extra man stifled Mayo and a quick counter-attack led to a fisted insurance point from Tom Flynn ensured a Connacht semi-final date against Sligo for the Galway men and the scenic route via the qualifiers again for Mayo.
Mayo: D Clarke; E O’Donoghue, C Barrett, K Higgins 0-1; S Coen, C Boyle, P Durcan; S O’Shea, T Parsons 0-1; K McLoughlin 0-2, A O’Shea, D O’Connor 0-1; C Loftus 0-3 (3f), J Doherty, A Moran 0-2.
Subs: C O’Connor 0-2 (1f), for Parsons (49), D Drake for Loftus (59), J Durcan for Doherty (63), C Hanley for S O’Shea (67), D Vaughan for Moran (72), B Harrison for O’Donoghue (72)
Galway: R Lavelle; D Kyne, SA O Ceallaigh, E Kerin; G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, C Sweeney; P Conroy, C Duggan 0-2; S Walsh 0-3 (1f), J Heaney (1-0), T Flynn; B McHugh 0-2 (2f), D Comer 0-2, S Armstrong 0-1.
Subs: P Cooke for Conroy (29), E Brannigan for Kyne (49), I Burke for Armstrong (57), S Kelly (0-1) for Flynn (63), J Duane for Bradshaw (67), A Varley for McHugh (74), T Flynn 0-1 for Cooke (75 b/c).
Ref – C Lane (Cork)