Another Connacht football final for Galway

Galway 2-14 Leitrim 1-13

Despite a 10-point haul from Emlyn Mulligan, Galway marched on at Pearse Stadium this afternoon as Padraic Joyce steered them through to their ninth Connacht SFC final in 11 years.

Claiming their ninth successive championship win over Leitrim since 1995, Galway played in fits and starts but did enough to warrant a place in the July 13 decider against Mayo or Sligo.

The 31-year-old Joyce set them on their way with a 12th-minute goal and Galway soon worked themselves a second goal chance, only for Fiachra Breathnach's drilled shot to be saved by Leitrim goalkeeper Enda Lyons.

Mulligan, who starred in only his second championship game, kept his side in contention with a series of well-struck frees, while Galway were further rocked when Declan Maxwell netted, nine minutes before half-time.

Leitrim's goal was one of the best of the 2008 championship so far as Maxwell plucked a high ball out of the sky and linked with Philip McGuinness before sliding a low shot past Galway net minder Paul Doherty.

Two more frees from Mulligan cut the gap to two at the break - 1-07 to 1-05 - as Leitrim, last Connacht champions in 1994, bounded into the dressing room in a hopeful mood.

Galway edged further in front of the restart thanks to the efforts of a largely subdued Michael Meehan, but Leitrim kept plugging away and Mulligan continue to score from all angles.

He managed to make it a one-point game, however just when it was needed, Galway put together a string of scores to put some distance between the sides.

Cormac Bane, on as a substitute, was picked out by a Meehan hand-pass and he blasted a powerful shot past Lyons for Galway's second goal.

With 12 minutes to go, a point apiece from Meehan and Joyce stretched Galway's lead to six points and Leitrim looked dead and buried.

Dessie Dolan snr's men never let their heads drop, with three more points from the impressive Mulligan keeping them in the game.

Nonetheless, late points from Bane and Meehan were enough to see Galway through to another Connacht final - although their manager Liam Sammon warned afterwards that today's performance "wouldn't be good enough to win a Connacht final".

Echoing the notion that Galway did just enough to progress, Sammon said: "We struggled for long periods in that game and, OK, we got the scores at the end but Leitrim were always a threat and they played very well.

"They put us under the hammer a lot of times in that game and we'll have to improve for the next day out."

GALWAY: P Doherty; G Bradshaw, F Hanley, D Burke; D Meehan, G Sice, D Mullahy; N Coleman (0-01), M Lydon; P Conroy, P Joyce (1-04, 0-01f), N Joyce (0-02); M Clancy (0-01), M Meehan (0-04, 0-01f), F Breathnach.

Subs used: B Cullinane for Lydon, C Bane (1-02) for Conroy (both half-time), M Comer for Burke (43 mins), S Armstrong for Breathnach (48).

LEITRIM: E Lyons; D Reynolds, J McKeon, M McGuinness; G Reynolds, B Prior, S Foley; G McCloskey, M Duignan; D O'Connor, P McGuinness, M Foley (0-01); E Mulligan (0-10, 0-10f); D Maxwell (1-01), D Brennan (0-01).

Subs used: D Duignan for O'Connor (half-time), J Glancy for M Foley (50 mins), B McWeeney for D Reynolds (65), C Duignan for Brennan (70).

Referee: Brian Crowe (Cavan).

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