Galway hang on to beat 14-man Mayo
GALWAY 0-15 MAYO 1-11
Galway beat 14-man Mayo for the second year in a row in a thrilling contest in poor playing conditions at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
The hosts fell over the line having only managed two points in the last 30 minutes and had to survive seven nerve-wracking minutes of injury time before they could celebrate a one-point victory.
Mayo supporters will no doubt look back on the first-half sending off of experienced back Keith Higgins as the turning point in the match.
Higgins - normally coolness personified – struck Galway forward Damien Comer with his knee off the ball and was shown a straight red card by referee Joe McQuillan.
Mayo won the toss and decided to play against the strong breeze in the first half.
They were given a huge boost after just five minutes when Kevin McLoughlin grabbed the only goal of the game, pouncing on the rebound after a Lee Keegan effort had come back off the post.
Galway created more chances in the first half, however, and the one-point advantage they held at half time was the least they deserved.
The Tribesmen’s shoot-on-sight policy was a joy to watch as six different scorers raised a white flag with some fine kicks.
Cillian O’Connor – inspirational throughout and unlucky to end up on the losing team – kept Mayo in touch with three first-half frees.
Galway began the second half brightly and they had established a four-point lead by the 45th minute, thanks largely to the accurate free-taking of Seán Armstrong.
Mayo introduced Aidan O’Shea in an effort to turn the tide and they had narrowed the gap to two points before a costly period of play in the 58th minute.
Galway substitute Gary Sice popped over a free and, from the resulting Mayo kick-out, Comer beat O’Shea to the ball, won a free and Sice stepped up to raise his second white flag in as many minutes.
The hosts looked to be in total control but Sice’s frees would turn out to be their last scores of the match as nerves visibly kicked in.
Mayo piled on the pressure and three points from O’Connor - including two superb long-range efforts – reduced the gap to a single point heading into injury time.
Referee McQuillan added on six minutes of injury time and played more than seven but despite their best efforts the visitors couldn’t force a replay and Galway could celebrate a place in the Connacht SFC final on July 9 where they will face Roscommon or Leitrim.
Galway: R Lavelle, C Sweeney, D Kyne, L Silke, G Bradshaw (0-1), G O’Donnell (c), D Wynne, T Flynn, F Ó Curraoin, J Heaney (0-1), P Conroy, S Walsh (0-1), M Daly (0-1), D Comer (0-2), S Armstrong (0-6)
Subs: G Sice (0-2) for T Flynn (Black card), E Brannigan for D Wynne, D Cummins for M Daly, M Lundy for G Sice
Mayo: D Clarke, C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, D Vaughan, L Keegan, P Durcan (0-1), S O’Shea, T Parsons, F Boland (0-1), D O’Connor (0-1), S Coen, K McLoughlin (1-1), C O’Connor (c) (0-6), A Moran (0-1)
Subs: A O’Shea for S O’Shea, D Kirby for A Moran, E Regan for F Boland, C Boyle for D Vaughan
Referee: J McQuillan