A brilliant seven point haul by captain Shane Walsh was not enough for Galway as they fell to an agonising one point defeat to Mayo in the Connacht Senior Football Final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Cillian O’Connor top scored for James Horan’s charges who got the better of Galway in the Championship for the first time since 2015.
Padraic Joyce’s men never gain parity with the visitors once they fell behind in the fourth minute as the Tribesmen lost their third provincial decider in four years.
But the tie started very well for the home side who, despite playing into a strong breeze, troubled the scorekeepers first as Dessie Conneely pointed with less than a minute on the clock.
However, Galway failed to build on their fast start as Mayo reeled off five consecutive scores thanks to braces from Cillian O’Connor and Tommy Conroy plus a point from Diarmuid O’Connor to lead by four on the 16th minute mark.
A Shane Walsh free narrowed the gap before the water break but it was James Horan’s men who used the mini-interval to good effect as points from Ryan O’Donoghue and Matthew Ruane extended the visitors lead to five after 32 minutes.
Walsh and O’Connor then traded frees before another point from the ever threatening Walsh and a score from Paul Kelly left only three between the side when the half-time whistle sounded.
With the advantage of the elements in the second 35, Galway flew out of the blocks as Gary O’Donnell kicked a superb point within a minute of the restart to leave only two between the teams.
But Mayo were not overawed as the impressive Ruane, Conroy, and Bryan Walsh raised the next three white flags to widen their lead to five points once again after 40 minutes.
Momentum continued to ebb and flow as Galway brought the difference back to two but O’Connor’s accuracy from the dead ball continued to keep The Tribesmen at arm’s length as the clash headed into the final 10 minutes.
Bernard Power kept Galway in the clash with a superb left hand save from a fierce shot from Eoghan McLaughlin on 64 minutes before Walsh fisted his second and ultimately the crucial point on 67 minutes to leave the score at 0-14 to 0-11.
A Paul Conroy point on 69 minutes chipped away at the lead before a cynical pulled down on Sean Kelly by the aforementioned McLaughlin as the Moycullen man bore down on goal, saw Galway awarded a free and not a penalty.
Walsh made no mistake to bring the difference to the minimum but Galway were unable to rouse themselves for one last attack as Mayo held on for the slimmest of victories.
Galway: S Walsh 0-7 (4F ); P Conroy 0-3; D Conneely 0-1; P Kelly 0-1; G O’Donnell 0-1.
Mayo: C O’Connor 0-4 (3F ); T Conroy 0-3; M Ruane 0-2; M Ruane 0-2; D O’Connor 0-1; P Durcan 0-1; R O’Donoghue 0-1 (1M ).
Galway: B Power; S Kelly, S Mulkerrin, J Heaney; L Silke, J Duane, C McDaid; C D’arcy, G O’Donnell; P Kelly, P Conroy, M Daly; I Burke, S Walsh, D Conneely.
Subs: R Steede for D’Arcy (24 ); G Bradshaw for Duane (27 ); K Molloy for O’Donnell (45 ); D Comer for Burke (50 ); G Sice for P Kelly (64 ).
Mayo: D Clarke; O Mullan, C Barrett, L Keegan; P Durcan, S Coen, E McLaughlin; C Loftus, M Ruane; K McLoughlin, R O’Donoghue, D O’Connor; T Conroy, A O’Shea (c ), C O’Connor
Subs: J Flynn for Loftus (58 ); M Moran for Conroy (60 ); K Higgins for McLoughlin (65 ); F McDonagh for Ruane (70+1 ).
Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone ).