Form is only a temporary thing, that has to be forgotten when Mayo and Galway clash in competitive football. While Galway were waltzing their way through division one of the National League, Mayo were struggling to find their feet for the first five or so games. The comfortable win over Westmeath combined with the come-behind draws against Donegal and Dublin were tempered with defeats at the hands of Derry and Kerry. While the slow starts in these games were causing much concern to the paying public. The conditions on Sunday combined with a swinging Galway attack early on saw Mayo behind by five points to one after 14 minutes in Tuam Stadium a ground which holds the ghost of nearly 50 years of Mayo dreams which were shattered until John Maughan's men strode into town in 1999 and knocked the then All Ireland champions off their perch. It was a Shurle-Glencorrib man who lifted the Nestor Cup that day, Kenneth Mortimer and it was his brother (Conor ) who made the early terrace talk on Sunday after being dropped from the starting 15 by the man who was managing Galway that fateful day.
The six thousand plus crowd who paid into the famous old ground were treated to a real game of two half's, Galway dominated the first with slick forward play combined with a hard fought midfield battle where they always seemed to emerge from a ruck of players with the ball, while Mayo struggled to get the ball to set off their own attackers. Michael Meehan hit three quick early scores each being set up by eagle eyed passes from Padraic Joyce, Damien Dunleavy and Joe Bergin respectively. Bergin himself posted a point on the scoreboard with a long range effort from 45m, with Paul Conroy chipping in with a free after Ger Cafferkey fouled the elusive Meehan. Mayo had responded to the opening Galway brace of points thanks to an Alan Dillon free, but they Tribesmen were on top and playing with a flourish. After 24 minutes of the half it was 0-7 to 0-1 in favor of the hosts with Barry Cullinane and a Conroy free pushing out the gap to six before Mayo responded again thanks to a dead ball from Austin O'Malley who had an industrious afternoon up front for Mayo. But Galway were in no mood to let up and Conroy and Meehan tacked on two more scores to leave Galway still in command. Meehan's score came from a free that saw Mayo midfielder Pat Harte yellow carded five minutes before the brake. Austin O'Malley once again stepped up for the Mayo men to keep them in touch with a free from the right hand side two minutes before the break.
But there was still high drama to unfold before Joe McQuillan sent the sides to the dressing room for the break.
Trevor Mortimer lost the ball as Mayo tried to break out of defence on the half way line and with in a flash it was in Paul Conroy's hands, one on one with Mayo custodian David Clarke, who was adjudged by the Cavan referee to have fouled him. Meehan stood up to take the spot kick and drove it low to the right with plenty of pace, Clarke guessed the right way but the ball skipped outside the post on the greasy surface much to the relief of the visiting faithful.
John O'Mahony rang the changes at the break with Mortimer being released from his temporary exile and Kevin McLoughlin joining the fray. With the Knockmore man coming into the action, Mark Ronaldson was released from his sweeping role and allowed to move to his numbered position as a wing forward, where he was full of industry and endevour for the final 35 minutes. Right from the off the changes made a difference with McLoughlin not afraid to take on the responsibility to go for a score three minutes in after Conor Mortimer used some quick thinking to set the move in motion. Two minutes later the decisive score of the contest arrived. Aidan O'Shea starred for the minors last year as they went right to the brink of All Ireland glory, the St Gerald's College leaving cert student maybe still only 18 years of age, but he showed great maturity on Sunday and was the cause of numerous concerns for Galway full back Finian Hanley. Even in the first half when Mayo were struggling to get things moving up front he set up Kieran Conroy for a goal chance which the Shrule-Glencorrib man really should have done better from. Five minutes into the second half, Trevor Mortimer slipped the ball into Mark Ronaldson who controlled the ball on the deck drawing in a number of defenders, he side footed it across the six yard line to the unmarked O'Shea who despite not getting the most graceful of touches to it directed the ball to the back of the net.
Mayo were now in the ascendancy, Austin O'Malley fired over a good score after some neat interplay in the build up between Andy Moran, Ronan McGarrity and Ronaldson to leave it a a one point game. But free's from Conroy and Meehan pushed the gap back to three with 11 minutes gone in the half. Conor Mortimer slotted over a free of his own, before he set up O'Shea to cut the lead back to the minimum with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. Another Meehan free kept the Galway lead in tacked, but Mayo weren't giving this one up. Mortimer drove over a free before two quick fire points from Peadar Gardiner put Mayo into the lead for the first time with six minutes left on the clock, before Joe Bergin launched one from way out the country to level it up once again. However this was going to be Mayo's day and with two minutes left on the clock Trevor Mortimer got the ball out on the right, close to the end line but still managed to slip it between the posts as the target narrowed with every step he took. Padraic Joyce did have a chance to salvage a point for Galway at the death but his sideline ball trailed wide of the posts.
Galway: Adrian Flaherty; Niall Coyne, Finian Hanley, Damien Burke; Garreth Bradshaw, Diarmuid Blake, David Reilly; Barry Cullinane (0-1 ), Joe Bergin (0-2 ); Sean Armstrong, Padraic Joyce, Damien Dunleavy; Paul Conroy,(0-3 ) Michael Meehan (0-7,3f ), Matthew Clancy Subs: Gary Sice for Matthew Clancy (51 mins ), Fiachra Breathnach for Damien Dunleavy (56 mins ), Gary O'Donnell for Sean Armstrong (69 mins )
Mayo: David Clarke. Liam O'Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Kieran Conroy; Peadar Gardiner (0-2 ), Tom Cunniffe, Andy Moran; Pat Harte, Ronan McGarrity; Mark Ronaldson, Trevor Mortimer (0-1 ), Alan Dillon (0-1,1f ); Austin O'Malley (0-3,2f ), Aidan O'Shea (1-1 ), Michael Sweeney. Subs: Tom Parsons for Pat Harte (yellow, 32 mins ) Conor Mortimer (0-2,2f ) for Michael Sweeney (half time ), Kevin McLoughlin (0-1 ) for Kieran Conroy (half time ), Billy Joe Padden for Austin O'Malley (68 mins ).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan )