Mayo hold off strong Galway challenge
MAYO 1-15 GALWAY 2-8
Mayo are through to yet another Connacht final after posting a 1-15 to 2-8 victory over Galway at Salthill.
The result means that the holders are now just 70 minutes away from winning a fifth successive Nestor Cup.
While the final scoreline was much tighter than when these two counties collided at the same venue two years ago, the Tribesmen never really looked like winning after the visitors hit them for 1-3 without reply in the first five minutes of the second half, including a catastrophic Galway own goal.
Realistically, there was never going to be any coming back from that.
The match exploded into life on 35 minutes when Gary Sice’s cracking left-footed sizzler into the top right corner of the net gave the hosts a 1-5 to 0-7 lead.
There was still time for Mayo to equalise in injury time through a Cillian O’Connor free but the home support was abuzz as the short whistle sounded.
Another O’Connor free restored Mayo’s lead upon the restart and Kevin Walsh’s charges undoubtedly couldn’t believe their eyes when Manus Breathnach’s clearance smashed off the hapless Finian Hanley to the back of the net for a freak 37th-minute Mayo goal.
Points from O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea piled on the pain: 1-11 to 1-5 after 40 minutes.
Paul Conroy’s excellent free was cancelled out by Jason Doherty but it was back to a three-point match when Danny Cummins palmed Tom Flynn’s precise pass to the net on 52 minutes.
Sice made it a two-point match but Mark Ronaldson and Seamus O’Shea steadied the winners with timely scores before Hanley’s luckless day went from bad to worse as he got a black card to follow an earlier yellow one ... and then a red.
O’Connor’s eighth converted free – and ninth score of the match – left five in it at the end of normal time and all the hosts could muster in four added minutes was a pointed Sice free.
Mayo’s Lee Keegan picked up a second yellow card deep into added time but will be available for the final against either Roscommon or Sligo on July 19th.
Three O’Connor frees and an Andy Moran point – against points from Conroy and Sice – had the holders ahead by 0-4 o 0-2 after 18 minutes.
But Galway were level within four minutes as an O’Connor point from play was followed by efforts from Conroy (free), Danny Cummins and Damien Comer.
Andy Moran and O’Connor (free) made it 0-7 to 0-5 with half time approaching. Then we got the fireworks.