Second half blitz see’s Mayo clinch Connacht title

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Mayo has completed back-to-back Connacht titles since 2012, beating Galway at Croke Park after a second-half blitz saw them lift a rare honour in the capital.

Capturing their 48th SFC Connacht title, moving two ahead of Galway in the process.

The game itself showcased both teams at their best and their worst. Mayo looked lethargic throughout the first half, while Galway produced some cunning, quick and clinical football that saw them lead 2-05 (11) to 0-06 (6) points at the interval.

Like many times before in Croke Park, Mayo was blitzed with two goals, after conceding from Shane Walsh and Damien Comer, giving them a five-point lead.

James Horan’s side looked in trouble as the players walked off the pitch into the tunnel, where a mass brawl between Mayo captain Aidan O’Shea and numerous Galway players give the second half even more excitement.

A monumental change of events occurred after the break, with Mayo storming out, outscoring Galway by 1-03 to 0-00 in the third quarter, defending ferociously to keep the Tribesmen without a score from play in the entire second half – only popping up a free in the 61st minute.

Mayo’s forward line was difficult to deal with throughout the game, Ryan O’Donoghue ran the Galway backline ragged – striking the ball into the back off the net from the penalty spot, which got the comeback underway.

There were huge team performances from Padraig O’Hora and Conor Loftus, who both got sustained heavy knocks in the second half. O’Hora had to be stretchered off after two sublime turnovers that turned into scores.

Man of the Match Matthew Ruane was influential in his performance, topping off his role with a great solo run, which saw him run through the heart of the Galway team before cooly slotting the ball past Conor Gleeson in the Galway goal.

Captain Aidan O’Shea helped out in a big way, tracking back constantly – starting the game in midfield before being deployed in the full-forward line.

Getting on the end of some long balls – catching the ball to set up the penalty and creating many of his team’s scores in the second half.

After the water break, Galway will deem themselves unlucky after a dropping ball saw Damien Comer get a flick onto the crossbar before Mayo could clear their lines.

O’Donoghue also had a second goal controversially ruled out for a foul in the buildup.

Substitute James Carr could have finished the game off in fashion – when an open space in the middle of the Galway goal saw him go one on one with Gleeson, popping the ball over the bar.

All in all, Mayo have a lot to work on if they want to compete with Dublin and Kery, although, based on their second-half performance, they can be an issue for any team.

Ripping Galway to bits with their movement and their overall ferocity – particularly in attack.

Galway’s brave performance ultimately lacked the cutting edge in the final quarter and was outrun by an immense Mayo steam train.

In the All-Ireland semi-finals, the men from the West will be back in Croke Park in three weeks to face the Leinster champions, Dublin or Kildare.

Mayo Scores

Mayo: Rob Hennelly (0-01, 0-01 45); Lee Keegan, Padraig O’Hora, Michael Plunkett; Patrick Durcan (0-01), Oisin Mullen, Stephen Coen; Matthew Ruane (1-02), Conor Loftus (0-02); Bryan Walsh, Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor; Tommy Conroy (0-02), Darren McHale (0-01), Ryan O’Donoghue (1-03, 1-00 pen, 0-01f).

Subs: Eoghan Mclaughlin for Walsh (h/t), Kevin McLoughlin (0-01) for McHale (h/t), Jordan Flynn for Loftus (45-51), Rory Brickenden for O’Hora (57- f/t, blood), Enda Hession for Plunkett (64), James Carr (0-01) for O’Shea (68), Conor O’Shea for O’Connor (76).

Galway Scores

Galway: Connor Gleeson; Sean Mulkerrin, Dylan McHugh, Liam Silke; Kieran Molloy, Sean Kelly, Johnny Heaney; Paul Conroy (0-02), Matthew Tierney (0-04, 3 frees); Peter Cooke, Cathal Sweeney (0-01), Paul Kelly; Robert Finnerty, Damien Comer (1-00), Shane Walsh (1-01).

Subs: Finnian O’Laoi for Finnerty (17), Jack Glynn for Sean Kelly (26), Michael Farragher for Sweeney (51), Eamonn Brannigan for Paul Kelly (57), Johnny Duane for Walsh (72).

 

 

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