The Mayo minors attempts to claim a 40th Connacht title for the county came up short on Sunday in a rain sodden Pearse Stadium in Galway. Enda Gilvarry’s side can have very little complaints about the outcome of this game as the hosts were deserved victors in a patchy affair, where both sides struggled with the conditions.
Mayo played against the breeze in the first half and a strong defensive display led by their full back line of Donovan Cosgrove, John Cunnane and Cathal Horan limited Galway to just four points at the break, with Mayo hitting two in reply over the opening 30 minutes.
It was in the second half when they had the wind to their backs, it was expected that Mayo would push on a have a big say in the outcome of this game, but it was Stephen Joyce’s men who took their chances and notched up minor title number 27 for the Tribesmen in Connacht.
The deciding moment of the game came with 16 minutes to go, with neither side not registering a score up to that stage of the half, Galway broke from defence at pace with Ernan McDonagh charging through from half way before he laid the ball off to Evan Murphy who drew in the last defender before flicking the ball across the face of goal for captain Desmond Conneely who palmed to the back of the net past a helpless Adam Byrne. A minute later Dara Silke fisted the ball over the bar for Galway as they stretched their lead out to six points and it was going to take something special for Mayo to get back into the game.
Mayo had started the game the brightest and had the majority of possession in the early stages but were unable to create any clear cut chances. Galway kicked the first score of the game through Desmond Conneely, who finished off a move started by the dangerous Evan Murphy four minutes in.
Just after the ten minute mark, Robert Finnerty son of Mayo legend Anthony ‘Larry’ Finnerty doubled Galway’s lead from a free after, Mayo keeper Adam Byrne hopped the ball twice. Conneely put the Tribesmen three clear a minute later with a pointed free after the lively Barry Goldrick was fouled.
Galway were on top now, but the Mayo defence was dogged and determined turning over Galway attacks with regularity, but they were struggling to get ball into their forward line and they pulled full forward Ryan O’Donoghue out to the middle of the park to try and get some momentum going.
With 20 minutes gone Galway went four clear when Murphy pounced on a defensive lapse by Mayo and he drove the ball over the bar from 30 meters out. As the rain and mist continued to envelop the ground, Mayo had the better of the closing ten minutes of the half.
Oisin McLaughlin fired over a close range point after some good work by Colm Moran on 23 minutes and a minute later O’Donoghue let fly for goal after a strong run, but his effort went just wide of the post. With 27 minutes gone, O’Donoghue hit his first point of the day when he clipped over a pointed free from close range. That was the last score of the half and Galway went in leading 0-4 to 0-2.
Both sides had almost exchanged goals not long before Conneely’s decisive goal. Galway went close first when Finian O’Laoi broke from his own half back line without a glove being laid on him, he laid it off to Connelly who got just couldn’t control the ball inside the cover. Mayo went straight back down the field and sub Conor Stenston, who replaced the injured Colm Murphy just before the interval was played in by Ryan O’Donoghue and he unleashed a thunder bolt of an effort that came back off the base of the post and away to safety.
Once Galway hit the back of the net not long after Mayo were done for as the game drew out to it’s conclusion, with Murphy’s brilliant point three minutes from time the highlight of the game. But all is not lost for Mayo as they are still in the championship hunt and they’ll face the winners of the Leinster championship at the All Ireland quarter-final stage.
Galway: D Connely (1-4, 2f ), E Murphy (0-2 ),R Forde (0-1 ); R Finnerty (0-1, 1f ), D Sike (0-1 )
Mayo: R O’Dongohue (0-2, 2f ), P Lambert (0-1 ), O McLaughlin (0-1 ), C Moran (0-1 ), E Gibbons (0-1 )
Galway: C Haslem; E Deeley, S Mulkerrin, E McFadden; A Quirke, E McDonagh, F Garvey; S Raftery, R Murphy; B Goldrick, E Murphy, R Forde; R Finnerty, F O’Laoi, D Connely. Subs: D Sike, S Thornton.
Mayo: A Byrne; C Horan, D Cosgrove, J Cunnane; B O’Malley, M Macken, J Maughan; P Lambert, R Egan, O McLaughlin; C Moran, R O’Dongohue, N McGee: Subs: C Stenson, S McGreal, E Gibbons, J Healy, L Kelly
Ref: John Gilmartin (Sligo )