Galway escape act maintains their recent mastery of Mayo

Galway's Cillian McDaid tries to break free from Mayo's Conor Loftus during the Connacht FBD League semi-final at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Galway's Cillian McDaid tries to break free from Mayo's Conor Loftus during the Connacht FBD League semi-final at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

GALWAY 1-9

MAYO 1-9

Galway won 4-2 on penalties

GALWAY senior footballers extended their unbeaten run against Mayo in all competitions to six games when they pulled off an escape act to salvage a draw against James Horan’s side on Sunday afternoon. Barry McHugh’s late goal in an absorbing, if error-ridden encounter, ensured penalties were required to decide who would progress to this weekend’s FBD final.

On a day when a unique set of experimental rules were centre stage, it was fitting that an estimated attendance in excess of 7,000 supporters in Tuam Stadium were treated to a unique finale. Mayo had experienced the joys of winning a penalty shoot-out a week earlier, but on this occasion they were to suffer as Galway goalkeeper Maghnus Breathnach’s penalty-saving capabilities came to the fore.

The An Spidéal shot stopper got down low to his right to parry Diarmuid O’Connor’s tame first effort for Mayo, before Liam Silke gave Galway the advantage by tucking away his spot kick into the bottom left corner. Brian Reape and James Kelly both found the net with Mayo’s next two, but Galway remained error-free as Johnny Heaney and Barry McHugh got the better of Rob Hennelly.

Andy Moran, introduced as a second half substitute, was next up but again Breathnach guessed correctly to block Moran’s shot, and Tom Flynn booked a date with Anthony Cunningham’s Roscommon side by stroking a shot into the bottom left corner. The result was perhaps harsh on a Mayo team with a blend of household names and fresh faces who started brightly, but Galway could have had a hatful of second half goals had they taken their chances.

Mayo had shown how desperate they were for a win by also throwing on Lee Keegan, Conor O’Shea and Stephen Coen, but having weathered a ten-minute spell when Donie Vaughan was needlessly sin-binned for a black card, they were still on course with a score of 1-8 amassed by the 51st minute. That they only added a solitary point in the remaining 24 minutes of action, albeit playing into the wind, will have vexed Horan ahead of their league opener against Roscommon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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