Galway 1-12 Mayo 0-12: A 74th minute Johnny Heaney goal secured Galway a third consecutive Connacht SFC win over Mayo.
The home side, forced to play with 14 men from the 30th minute onwards following a red card to Diarmuid O’Connor, are headed for the qualifiers once more after a provincial quarter-final where they only led twice.
The teams were level five times throughout a desperately poor second-half, with extra-time looking a distinct possibility until Heaney’s goal. Sub Ian Burke fetched Adrian Varley’s kick-pass, offloaded to Heaney and he hammered the ball high into the roof of David Clarke’s goal four minutes into second-half injury-time.
That score put Galway 1-11 to 0-12 in front and although Cillian O’Connor narrowed the gap thereafter, a Thomas Flynn fisted point sealed Galway’s progress into a Connacht semi-final against Sligo.
The main talking point of the first-half was Diarmuid O’Connor’s sending-off, the half-forward receiving a straight red card for elbowing Paul Conroy in the face on the half hour. It was the second consecutive Galway-Mayo fixture where the Ballintubber man had been dismissed.
By this juncture in proceedings, the entire Galway full-back line had been yellow-carded as Conor Lane wasted little time in filling his black book.
Ciarán Duggan split the posts not long after O’Connor’s sending off to to push the visitors into a 0-7 to 0-5 lead. Comer and Walsh both wasted subsequent opportunities to extend Galway’s lead and the gap was back to the minimum come the interval break as Andy Moran notched his first in stoppages.
Mayo, despite playing into the wind in that opening half, opened sprightlier but wasted several opportunities - the home outfit had four wides clocked inside 10 minutes, as well as a Kevin McLoughlin free which came back down off the post.
On top of O’Connor’s departure, Mayo also lost Tom Parsons - the midfielder having to be stretchered off after a nasty looking injury.
Two each from Shane Walsh and Ciarán Duggan had Galway 0-11 to 0-10 ahead approaching the end of regulation time. Thereafter, they kicked four wides and could have been in trouble but for Heaney’s crucial score.
Scorers for Galway: J Heaney (1-0); S Walsh (0-3, 0-1 free); B McHugh (0-2 frees), C Duggan, D Comer (0-2 each); T Flynn, S Kelly, S Armstrong (0-1 each).
Scorers for Mayo: C Loftus (0-3, 0-3 frees); C O’Connor (0-1 free), K McLoughlin A Moran (0-2 each); D Connor, K Higgins, T Parsons (0-1 each).
Mayo: D Clarke; E O’Donoghue, C Barrett, P Durcan; S Coen, C Boyle, K Higgins; S O’Shea, T Parsons; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; J Doherty, A Moran, C Loftus.
Subs: C O’Connor for Parson (47 mins, inj); D Drake for Loftus (60); J Durcan for Doherty (62); C Hanley for S O’Shea (67); D Vaughan for Moran (71); B Harrison for O’Donoghue (72).
Galway: R Lavelle; E Kerin, D Kyne, SA Ó Ceallaigh; G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, C Sweeney; T Flynn, C Duggan; J Heaney, P Conroy, B McHugh; S Walsh, D Comer, S Armstrong.
Subs: P Cooke for Conroy (30 mins, blood); E Branigan for Kyne (50); I Burke for Armstrong (58); S Kelly for T Flynn (62); J Duane for Bradshaw (68); A Varley for McHugh (73); T Flynn for Cooke (bc, 75).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).