Four in a row for Horan's Mayo

Connacht SFC Final; Mayo 3-14 Galway 0-16

Captain Fantastic: Andy Moran lifts the Nestor Cup in MacHale Park. Photo:Sportsfile

Captain Fantastic: Andy Moran lifts the Nestor Cup in MacHale Park. Photo:Sportsfile

Galway came to town and they huffed and and puffed but in the end they were no match for a Mayo team that went about dismantling their southern neighbors with relative ease in the end with man of the match Cillian O'Connor kicking eight points and having his hand in two of Mayo's goals that booked their passage to the All Ireland quarter-final on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Mayo were smarter in almost every area of the field and ran out deserving seven point winners with Aidan O'Shea dominating the game from his centre half forward berth for long periods of the contest. Even when Galway looked like they could get themselves back into the contest the rub of the green wasn't with them as Shane Walsh who kicked seven points for the Tribesmen saw his effort for a goal come crashing back off the bar just after the restart.

Walsh opened the scoring with a point from a free inside the first minute after Chris Barrett who was making his first start since the All Ireland final due to injury dragged down Danny Cummins close in. Cillian O'Connor responded for Mayo five minutes later with a great effort from the MacHale Road side of the ground after being picked out by Keith Higgins. O'Connor put Mayo into the lead two minutes later with a free from the same side of the field just inside the 45m line and Alan Dillon pointed three minutes later to put Mayo two to the good. Even from this early stage it looked like Mayo were going to run out winners, Kevin McLoughlin who put in a great shift for the seventy minutes kicked Mayo's fourth point before the lively Michael Lundy kicked Galway's second score. Colm Boyle did the hard graft to win a free that allowed O'Connor to kick Mayo's fifth point 17 minutes in and two minutes later McLoughlin kicked his second point.

Mayo grabbed the first of their three goals on the 20 minute mark, when O'Connor looked to be in danger of running out of room along the end line at the Bacon Factory end, but he was able to pick out the rampaging Lee Keegan with an inch perfect pass and the Westport man palmed the ball to the back of the net from close range. Walsh responded with a free for Galway, but Mayo kept their foot down and O'Connor pointed another free to put his team into a 1-7 to 0-3 lead after 26 minutes. Paul Conroy kicked back for Galway and Gareth Bradshaw had a chance of a goal, but his effort crashed back off the post and Mayo cleared to safety.

O'Connor and McLoughlin tacked on two more points before the break with Danny Cummins getting a point for Galway to leave the score 1-9 to 0-5 in favor of Mayo at the break.

Walsh nearly put the cat among the pigeons when he broke through right from the throw-in for the second half after Barry Moran's handpass after winning the throw-in was intercepted by Thomas Flynn who sent Walsh off on a run that saw him break through and crash his effort off the bar. Galway did hit the first three points of the half with Walsh getting the ball back and scoring after his goal effort came back off the bar and that was followed by scores from Conroy and Bradshaw. Jason Doherty replied for Mayo after Chris Barrett had made the hard yards with a strong run from the defence, Conroy quickly responded for Galway but Mayo were just about to hit them with a run of 1-2 without response. O'Connor pointed a free and then Keegan was put through on goal thanks to a pin point pass from McLoughlin, but his effort clipped the bar and flew over for a point. But Mayo didn't have to wait long and Jason Doherty found the back of the net after Seamus O'Shea put him in the clear after the Breaffy man was found by a quick Andy Moran free. That score killed off any lingering doubts that Galway might get back into the game and despite some good scores from Sean Armstrong and Shane Walsh over the closing stages Mayo were able to keep them at more than arms length.

Barry Moran grabbed Mayo's third goal when he palmed into the net after he got on the end of a move started by Keith Higgins and included, Michael Conroy, Cillian O'Connor and Lee Keegan. Moran did have another impact in the contest when he was sent to the line for a black card after he pulled down Paul Conroy for penalty. The resultant spot kick was saved superbly by Robbie Hennelly in the Mayo goal. The final ten minutes saw Mayo run down the clock as the moved on to 45 Connacht titles, one more than their defeated foes and James Horan go through his fourth year in Connacht unbeaten as Mayo manager.

Scores

Mayo: C O'Connor (0-8, 5f ), J Doherty (1-1 ), L Keegan (1-1 ), B Moran (1-0 ), K McLoughlin (0-3 ), A Dillon (0-1 )

Galway: S Walsh (0-7, 5f ), P Conroy (0-4 ), S Armstrong (0-2 ) G Bradshaw (0-1 ), M Lundy (0-1 ), D Cummins (0-1 ),

Mayo:R Hennelly; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, D Vaughan; S O’Shea, B Moran; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, J Doherty; C O’Connor, A Moran, A Dillon.

Subs:M Conroy for Dillon (44mins ), A Freeman for A Moran (53mins ), J Gibbons for B Moran (60mins, black card ), K Keane for Boyle (69mins ), D O’Connor for Doherty (69mins ), M Sweeney for A O’Shea (70mins ).

Galway: M Breathnach; A Tierney, F Hanley, D O’Neill; G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell, P Varley; F O’Curraoin, T Flynn; M Lundy, S Walsh, D Comer; P Conroy , E Hoare, D Cummins.

Subs: J Kavanagh for Comer (24mins ), D Burke for Tierney (44mins ), S Armstrong for Cummins (44mins ), G Higgins for Hoare (55mins ), J O’Brien for Lundy (62mins ).

Referee: R Hickey (Clare ).

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