A first half goal from Danny Cummins proved decisive in this latest Connacht derby as Galway weathered a second half comeback to win tonight’s National League clash in Castlebar.
This was Galway’s seventh successive victory over their rivals in all competitions, with Mayo waiting almost four years for their last win against their neighbours.
A crowd of 10,675 got their money’s worth, with Galway’s success propelling them right back into the mix for a place in this year’s decider, with three wins from five games.
This was Mayo’s second defeat in seven days, coming hot on the heels on their loss to All-Ireland champions, Dublin, last weekend.
Galway led at half-time by 1-7 to 0-3 after playing with the aid of a gale-force breeze, and it took Mayo almost 40 minutes to register their first score from play.
Galway’s goal in the 25th minute came after a defence-splitting pass from Antaine O Laoi was won by the raiding Johnny Heaney, and Danny Cummins pounced to palm in the 16th goal of his inter-county career.
Down at the other end, all Mayo could muster were three frees from Jason Doherty, and they failed to register a single score in the last 22 minutes of the half.
Galway boss Kevin Walsh also had to re-organise his troops during the second quarter after losing both Michael Daly and Barry McHugh to black cards in quick succession.
However, Mayo only managed to grab one point during the ten minutes when they enjoyed the luxury of having two extra players on the field.
It was a different story though in the second half as Mayo came roaring back into contention with the stiff breeze behind them.
The homeside rattled off seven points during the third quarter from Matthew Ruane, Darren Coen, substitute Andy Moran and free-taker Jason Doherty, who hit the target four times.
This purple patch pared Galway’s lead back to the bare minimum (1-8 to 0-10) with 55 minutes played.
However, crucially, Mayo were unable to draw level at any stage and Galway battened down the hatches to hold them scoreless for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, Galway rallied to land a hat-trick of scores from Shane Walsh frees to push them four points clear in stoppage-time.
Mayo refused to give in and both Diarmuid O’Connor and Donie Vaughan picked off late scores, but Galway held out for a deserved win.
Their manager, Kevin Walsh, has only lost once to Mayo in a competitive fixture since taking charge back in 2015.
His side made light of the absence of the Corofin contingent, as well as their inspirational forward, Damien Comer.
When the league resumes in a fortnight’s time, Mayo will travel to Tralee to take on league leaders Kerry while Galway welcome Roscommon to Salthill for another local derby.
Galway: R Lavelle; E Kerin, SA Ó Ceallaigh, D Wynne; G O’Donnell, J Daly, J Heaney (0-1); T Flynn, C Duggan; M Daly (0-1), D Cummins (1-2, 0-1 mark),P Cooke; B McHugh, S Walsh (0-5, 5fs), A Ó Laoi (0-2).
Subs used: F O Laoi for Flynn; E Brannigan for Cummins; G Bradshaw for McHugh; P Cunningham for A O Laoi.
Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, B Harrison, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, S Coen; M Ruane (0-1), D Vaughan (0-1); F McDonagh, A O’Shea, D O’Connor (0-1); J Durcan, D Coen (0-1), J Doherty (0-7, 6fs).
Subs used: K McLoughlin for Durcan; A Moran (0-1, mark) for S Coen; B Reape for McDonagh.
Referee: M Deegan (Laois)