Young Tribesmen show plenty of resolution to edge out wasteful Mayo in hard fought semi-final battle
Dara Bradley at Tuam Stadium
GALWAY qualified for the Cadbury’s Connacht U21 football final – and dumped Mayo out of the championship – with a hard fought and merited two points win over their rival neighbours at Tuam Stadium on Saturday evening.
Mayo had enough possession to win it; they had enough shots at the posts to win it, but ultimately they were wasteful and relied too heavily on senior county player, Cillian O’Connor.
At half time, Galway were up by just a point and facing the prospect of playing against a bizarre, stiff and bitterly cold wind that swept cross-field and towards the town end goal.
Added to that, Mayo had weathered an early Galway storm, looked to have the measure of the midfield sector; and when the Tribesmen had gone almost 20 minutes of the first half leading up to half-time without registering a score, the omens didn’t look too good for the home side.
After the interval, Alan Flynn’s charges showed immense character, however, with a defiant display that proved they have the bottle and temperament to withstand the pressure in tight squeezes such as this.
Twice early in the second half Mayo drew level but almost instantly – and stubbornly – Galway responded and nudged in front again, which was a psychological blow to the visitors, stifling their efforts to build momentum and had an even greater impact on the confidence levels of the home team.
Had the sides been on parity for long, or had Mayo gone one up, who knows, doubts could have seeped into Galway’s heads but the Tribesmen reacted positively each time the Green and Red threw down the gauntlet in the third quarter.
Following the exhilarating attacking display against Sligo five days previous, in which Galway won by 16 points, it was the team’scollective defensive effort that took the plaudits on Saturday; the defence and gifted corner-forward Shane Walsh, who really did turn on the style scoring six of his side’s nine points with a man-of-the-match display.
True, the backs conceded far too many cheap frees as they fouled far too freely in the first half – they were lucky free-takers O’Connor and Evan Regan didn’t quite have the measure of the tricky wind – but, probably following a rollicking by Flynn and Co at the break, the Galway defence tightened up after the interval and cut out the unnecessary fouling.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.