Mayo claimed their first Connacht junior title since 2007 with a comfortable win over Galway in Hyde Park on Sunday. John Kelly's side ran out 2-12 to 0-10 winners despite kicking 16 wides over the hour of action on the field. Mayo's charge to the title was led in particular by their hard working half back line where Shane McDermott and Michael Walsh put in the hard yards up and down the flanks in defense and attack. While Ollie Feeney was a tough physical presence when needed to curb Galway's attacks.
The withdrawal of Clifford Connolly from the starting 15 saw a number of positional switches for Mayo at the start of the game, with Enda McManamon moving from the 40 into the full forward berth and Alan Egan taking up the centre half forward position. After the opening 20 minutes of the game it didn't look like it would be Mayo's day with Galway leading by 0-4 to 0-0 and Mayo spurning every opportunity that came their way.
When Mayo did open their account, there was quite a bit of luck attached to it as Alan Egan's effort bounced off the deck and slipped through the grasp of Niall Walsh in the Galway goal to register Mayo's first score on 21 minutes.
Some how less than a minute later Mayo had pulled themselves back on terms after Colin Dempsey drove the ball to the back of the net. Mayo were awarded a sideline ball on the Galway 21 meter line on the terrace side of the field. For a split second the entire Galway defense seemed to have switched off and Colin Dempsey was in miles of space by himself, the Swinford man collected Enda McManamon's pass from the sideline and stepped around Walsh to finish to the net to pull the game level.
Galway did respond through a Peadar Seoighe point, but Mayo now had the bit between their teeth and added on the last two points of the half. First from Aidan McTigue who chose to punch the ball over the bar rather than take on a goal chance and then on the stroke of half time Enda McManamon pointed a free to leave Mayo leading by 1-3 to 0-5 at the break.
The second half saw Mayo outscore their opponents by 1-9 to 0-5, but much like the first half the early stages of the second half was all Galway. A brace of points from Cathal Coleman and single effort from Aidan Geraghty had Galway back in the lead before Alan Egan kicked Mayo's first point of the half on 40 minutes. Padraic McManamon and Aidan McTigue chipped in with a point each for the Mayo cause while sub Kevin Reilly added on one for Galway to leave it 1-6 to 0-9 with 15 minutes left on the clock. But the next score of the game was to prove the decisive one, a long ball was played into McTigue low on the ground, he did well to win the ball and make the space before he shot Walsh in the Galway goal to put Mayo into a three point lead and cruising to victory.
From that point on it became easy for Mayo with Simon Cloherty kicking a beauty of a point on the run with his left boot from a tight angle, which was followed by by a booming effort from Egan which just came back inside the post. The second goal from Mayo knocked the fight out of Galway and it was plain sailing to the final whistle and McNamara receiving the cup and the man of the match awards.
Mayo: A McTigue (1-2 ), R McNamara (0-3, 2f ), A Egan (0-3 ), C Dempsey (1-0 ), E McManamon (0-1 ), P McManamon (0-1 ), S Cloherty (0-1 ), M Walsh (0-1 )
Mayo: Paul Mannion; N McCormack, L O'Malley, B Leonard; S McDermott, O Feeney, M Walsh; R McNamara, P McManamon; M Moran, A Egan, S Cloherty; C Dempsey, E McManamon, A McTigue. Subs: J Kelly for M Moran (HT ), P Collins for E McManamon (46 mins ), S Kelly for A McTigue (52 mins ),
Galway:N Walsh; E O'Sullivan, C O'Toole, C Ó Domhnaill; D Rattigan, C Leyden, D Reilly; A Geraghty, JJ Greaney, P Seoighe; C Coleman, N Meenaghan, E Joyce. Subs: D Kyrt for E O'Sullivan (17 mins ) K Reilly for N Meenaghan (HT ), P Gleeson for C Leyden (43 mins ), A Molloy for E Joyce (54 mins )