Mayo’s search for back-to-back wins in the Connacht u21 football championship for the first time since 2009 will stretch into 2016 at least after the exited the competition at the semi-final stage on Saturday evening. In a game that wasn’t ill tempered Roscommon referee Paddy Neilan dished out three black-cards and late red card to Mayo’s Patrick Durcan, as Galway deservedly claimed their spot in the final against Roscommon in a fortnights time.
Mayo pulled the gap back to four points at the end and even had a couple of goal chances in the dying stages that could have put the cat among the pigeons, but in reality Galway were always in control of the game from midway through the first half and they could even afford to go almost the entire final 20 minutes without registering a score and still run out four point winners.
Mayo opened the scoring early on through Knockmore’s Darren McHale, but unfortunately for Mayo he had to leave the action shortly afterwards. Galway got to grips with the game shortly afterwards and pushed themselves into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the quarter of an hour mark with the man of the match Damien Comer opening their account with other scores coming from Gary Kelly and Micheal Day, while Comer also drove over a 45 in that scoring burst. Alan Flynn’s side were also able to kick four wides in the process as they bossed the game.
Mayo did get back into the match with Stephen Coen launching over a score from distance and Conor Loftus finding his range. Coen levelled the game up just after the 20 minute mark with another good score from out the park, just after the first black card of the game was handed to Galway’s Johnny Heaney for a third man challenge.
Mayo then picked up black card when Diarmuid O’Connor was pinged by Neilan for a third man tackle and Mayo’s chances in the game took a nose dive. As Mayo were waiting to get TJ Byrne on to replace the Ballintubber man Conor Cunnigham drove in a long free, which Comer collected and drove past Matthew Flanagan to the back of the net to register the only score of the game.
Byrne did respond for Mayo with a point almost instantly, but Galway would tack on two more points before the break through the outstanding Comer and Eamon Brannigan to go in leading by 1-6 to 0-5 at the break.
The second half opened with Cunningham and Comer kicking points for Galway and James Durcan responding with two pointed frees for Mayo before Galway kicked four on the bounce, with Comer kicking a brace and Brannigan and Gary Kelly adding the others. Remarkably that was to be Galway’s last scores of entire contest, but the seven point gap was a bridge to far for Mayo. Two more Durcan points from frees and a neat score from Mayo captain Adam Gallagher cut the gap back to four with time ticking down. Mayo badly needed a goal to get back into the contest and they did come close, with Brian Reape just letting the ball slip through his hands as he looked to be clean through on goal. The same man did have the ball in the back of the net right at the death, but his Seamus Darby like push in the back was picked up by the referee and a free out was awarded to Galway. The last meaningful action of the game saw Mayo reduced to 14 men when Patrick Durcan was shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on Liam Silke and with that Mayo’s interest in this years u21 championship came to an end.
Mayo: J Durcan (0-4, 4f ), S Coen (0-2 ), A Gallagher (0-2 ), D McHale (0-1 ), TJ Byrne (0-1 ), C Loftus (0-1 )
Galway: D Comer (1-5,1 45’ ), G Kelly (0-3, 1f ), E Brannigan (0-2 ), M Day (0-1 ), C Cunningham (0-1 )
Mayo: M Flanagan; M Hall, D Kenny, J Stretton; P Durcan, S Coen, S Regan; D O’Connor, V Roughneen; TJ Byrne, A Gallagher, D McHale; C Burke, C Loftus, J Durcan. Subs: M Plunkett for D McHale, C Burke for K Lynch, TJ Byrne for D O’Connor (BC ), E Lavin for V Roughneen, E Doran for J Stretton, B Reape for Plunkett
Galway: T O’Malley; E Kerin, J Wyndam, K Molloy; J Heaney, A Nolan, L Silke; M Day, D Corbett; E Tierney, D Comer, C Brady, M Daly, G Kelly, E Brannigan. Subs: C Cunningham for J Heaney (BC ), E Finnerty for M Daly, P Mannion for D Comer (BC ), J Donnellan for E Brannigan.
Ref: P Neilan (Roscommon )