It may have been hovering around the zero degree mark in McHale Park on Sunday, but Mayo put that to one side as they saw off the challenge of Galway for the second time in three weeks to claim the FBD League title with three points to spare. The cold also played its part in keeping the crowd down from the numbers that turned out a fortnight ago, and while Mayo didn't dismantle the Tribesmen with quite as much gusto as they did in their last meeting, the victory was still a welcome one. So it's now 2-0 to John O'Mahony over Joe Kernan for 2010, but if these sides meet again in high summer the stakes will be a lot higher with much more to play for.
Mark Ronaldson who saw a suspension imposed on him following a review of the tape of the Tyrone game the previous week, has appealed his suspension and will have a personal hearing later this week, was rather more subdued that he has been in previous weeks and only scored one point for the day and kicked two frees wide of the mark he would have hoped to have scored over the 60 minutes.
Other issues of concern for O'Mahony in the coming weeks is the fact that for the second game in a row against Galway Finan Hanley has got the better of Aidan O'Shea, but the Breaffy teenager did have two good goal chances one off the woodwork and another which Eoin Conneely did very well to save in the first half. Enda Varley kept up his good performances of late and hit four points over the hour, the Garrymore man has the look of a man who is determined to take his chance in the Mayo shirt and won't be shifted from their anytime soon. With Conor Mortimer and Alan Dillon due back in the country this week, competition for places in the front six is going to get very competitive in the coming months. Barry Kelly and Seamus O'Shea added some more physicality to the half forward line again, with both men often drifting back into the middle third to give Mayo a four man midfield line.
But it was another half forward in green and red who was the real star of the show, Andy Moran was Mayo's go to guy, he drifted all over the half forward line was the target of a lot of Mayo's balls out of defence to kick start their attack. Moran's purposeful and intelligent running will be a key part of Mayo's game plan come the later stages of the year and his awarding of man of the match was well deserved.
Ronan McGarrity kicked Mayo into a early lead, which was doubled four minutes later by Varley who gave his marker a torrid time early on selling him dummy runs to create space to receive the ball. Eoin Concannon did hit one back for Galway on six minutes, after Ger Cafferkey and Joe Bergin contested a high ball into the Mayo danger area with the ball breaking off Cafferkey into the arms of Concannon close in.
Peadar Gardiner clipped over a very Peadar Gardiner like score to extend Mayo's lade and Varley bagged his second shortly after when he blazed his goal attempt over the bar. Points from Barry Cullinane who played well for Galway and Concannon cut the gap back to the minimum before Ronaldson clipped over a point on the turn. The game did become a bit aimless at times with both sides coughing up possession to the opposition before handing it back shortly after. A Cillian De Paor free saw the score move to 0-5 to 0-4 after 24 minutes. The last score of the half came form Andy Moran who used his body to roll his marker off to make some space to shoot, to leave Mayo two to the good at the break.
After the break, Aidan O'Shea hit the woodwork with a goal effort early doors and the rebound was pointed by Varley, before a Andy Moran point left double scores between the sides. But there was to be no collapse form Galway this time and they hit four unanswered points in the next 19 minutes to level the game up. The Galway scores coming from a brace each from Cillian De Paor and Gary O'Donnell. With Galway now coming hard at them, Mayo upped the gears, Ronan McGarrity hit his second then Chris Barrett swung over a point, quickly followed by a Varley score to leave Mayo three to the good. Cillian De Paor landed a free for Galway, but a Seamus O'Shea fisted effort ensured the game went in Mayo's favour at the final whistle.
Mayo: K O’Malley; A Feeney, G Cafferkey, D Vaughan; P Gardiner (0-1 ), T Howley, C Barrett (0-1 ); T Parsons, R McGarrity (0-2 ); A Moran (0-2 ), B Kelly, S O’Shea (0-1 ); E Varley (0-4, one free ), A O’Shea, M Ronaldson (0-1 ). Subs: N Douglas for Kelly (50 mins ), K McLoughlin for Howley (55 mins ), M Sweeney for Ronaldson (57 mins ).
Galway: E Conneely; D O’Neill, F Hanley, E McDonagh; T Fahy, D Blake, G O’Donnell (0-2 ); B Cullinane (0-1 ), N Coleman; C Bane, C De Paor (0-3, frees ), C Healy; E Concannon (0-2, frees ), J Bergin (0-1 ), M Martin. Subs: D Dunleavy for Bane (14 mins ).
Ref: Marty Duffy (Sligo ).