The Galway footballers tried might and main on Sunday to beat Cavan in Breffni Park and win the opportunity to play division one football next season. However it was not to be as Terry Hyland’s team deservedly won by 1-16 to 1-12.
Cavan will now play Tyrone in the league final on Sunday week and be in the top tier for 2017 for the first time in 15 years.
Galway produced a strong second half, but it was a disappointing 20 minute period in the second quarter that did the damage for the visitors.
Galway manager Kevin Walsh said his team “fell out of it for 20 minutes" - and at this level no team can afford such a prolonged poor period of play and expect to win. It is something that cannot happen against Mayo on June 18 if they have aspirations of derailing Mayo's ambitions for a sixth consecutive Connacht title.
Ironically Galway had started quite well last weekend and led by 1-5 to 1-2 after Patrick Sweeney scored a goal and Gary Sice pointed a free after 15 minutes. Things looked reasonably positive at that juncture and Galway looked to be moving well.
However, Galway then switched off and failed to score for the rest of the half, while the home side, inspired by the impressive Gearóid McKiernan, hit six unanswered points to give them confidence for the second period and a half-time lead of 1-8 to 1-5.
In that period Cavan seemed better able to cope with the poor underfoot conditions and looked hungrier when scrapping for ‘dirty ball’ on a muddy and wet pitch.
Galway’s management rang the changes in the final stages of the game in a desperate effort to get a win, and with Shane Walsh impressing up front, they made it a two point game (1-13 to 1-11 ) and were back in the game.
They had a glorious chance to set up an epic last few minutes but Damien Comer’s goal-bound shot was taken off the line by Cavan corner-back Jason McLoughlin.
A goal at that point would have put Galway one to the good and asked some hard questions of the home team. Instead Cavan powered on to outscore Galway by 0-3 to 0-1 in the last four minutes.
Galway manager Kevin Walsh was proud of his players after the game and acknowledged their efforts in the second half.
“I am proud of the effort of the lads. Cavan got a few points at vital times and kicked some monster scores, and to be fair to them, they had a good few wides. I can’t fault our boys for effort and hopefully a lot of the younger lads will have learnt from the FBD and the league campaign.”
Galway: M Breathnach; D Wynne (0-1 ), D Kyne, C Sweeney; L Silke, G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw; T Flynn, P Conroy; E Brannigan (0-2 ), P Sweeney (1-0 ), G Sice (0-3,3f ); S Walsh (0-4,1f, ‘45 ), D Cummins (0-1 ), D Comer (0-1 ). Subs used: J Heaney for D Cummins (48 ), A Varley for P.Sweeney (53 ), S Denvir for G Sice (61 ), E Hoare for E Brannigan (70 ).