Mayo edge out Galway and the gales in Bekan

GAA: Connacht u20 Football Championship; Mayo 1-6 Galway 1-4

Battle for the ball: Jack Fallon battles with Ruairi King for the ball. Photo: Mayo GAA

Battle for the ball: Jack Fallon battles with Ruairi King for the ball. Photo: Mayo GAA

A cursory look at the scoreline - in years to come - will have people thinking that this was a game played out by two teams who weren't that good; but huge credit must go to both sides who put their best foot forward in terrible conditions in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence on Wednesday night.

The wild howled and swirled and smatterings of rain added to the tough conditions, with the goal posts gaining an extra meter to the right hand side at times as the wind stretched the flexibilty of the posts on a number of occasions.

Mayo were the better side for the vast majority of this game, but were still left holding on at the end after a late James McLoughlin goal brought it back to a three-point game and a Nathan Grainger free left just two between the sides in injury time, on an evening a slip or a spill could have easily seen Galway get in for another late goal to steal the game.

But Mayo held their nerve and will go on to face Leitrim next week in the semi-final for a shot at a spot in the provincial decider in a few weeks' time.

Mayo hit the front early on when Cian O'Connell drove the ball over the bar from close range, to get things moving. Galway could and should have rattled the back of the Mayo net not long after when a long ball into Tomo Cullhane saw him clear through on goal. He took aim but his shot was brilliantly saved by Brian O’Flaherty in the Mayo goal and the Islandeady net minder was quick to react to save an effort from Charlie Power off the rebound.

Galway had the aid of the wind in the first half, but they failed to make it count. There was almost 15 minutes gone on the clock when they finally registered a score from wing back Daniel Flaherty who drove over a fine score for their first point of the day. Mayo captain Frank Irwin pushed Mayo back in front thanks to a good effort into the teeth of the gale, before Dylan Brady levelled it up a few minutes later. The final ten minutes of the opening half saw Galway have plenty of possession, but failing to convert it into scores as the stout Mayo defence forced them to work the ball back and out of the danger area - which saw them go in level at 0-2 each at the break.

The Galwegians went into the lead early in the second half through an outstanding 45 from Nathan Grangier, but Mayo were the dominant team on and off the ball, working outstandingly hard all day. O'Connell levelled the game up with his second point of the day and five minutes into the second half, Mayo struck for their vital goal. A sloppy pass out from the back was intercepted by Mayo Gaels man Jack Fallon, he side-stepped Galway goalkeeper James Egan who was trying to narrow the angle and finished the ball to the back of the net from close range.

Much like Galway in the first half, Mayo did struggle to use the wind to their advantage, but a run of three scores on the bounce in quick succession from Irwin, Bob Tuohy and Paddy Heneghan, pushed their lead out to a commanding six points in the tough conditions.

Galway to their credit kept plugging away and when McLoughlin got on the end of a ball that was played across the danger area into a crowded space and fired it home, it was game on. The last two times these sides had met in the competition, they both went to penalties, with Galway winning in 2020 and Mayo in 2021; another goal here and it could have been heading that direction. But all Galway could come up with was another Grainger point before the end and Mayo marched on to the final four.

Scorers

Mayo: J Fallon (1-0 ), F Irwin (0-2, 1f ), C O’Connell (0-2 ), P Heneghan (0-1 ), B Tuohy (0-1 )

Galway: J McLaughlin (1-0 ), N Grainger (0-2, ‘45, 1f ), D Brady (0-1 ), D Flaherty (0-1 )

Mayo: B O’Flaherty; A Morrison, R Keane, C Dawson; F Kelly, S Callinan, A Cosgrove; F Irwin, D McHugh; T O’Flaherty, D Thornton, J Fallon; C McHale, P Heneghan, C O’Connell. Subs: M Cunningham for O’Connell; P Walsh for McHale; C Reid for Fallon; B Tuohy for Dawson.

Galway: J Egan; C Corcoran, E Donohue, C MacDonncha; R King, J McGrath, D Flaherty; J McLaughlin, C Gallagher; R Donnellan, W Seoighe, D Brady; C Power, T Culhane, N Grainger. Subs: D Cox for Donnellan; C Greaney for King; E Nolan for Gallagher; J Slattery for Power.

Referee: M McGirl (Sligo )

 

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