Galway claim single-point victory over Mayo after bad-tempered derby

Galway claim single-point victory over Mayo after bad-tempered derby
Chris Barrett of Mayo in action against Damien Comer of Galway during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Galway and Mayo at Pearse Stadium, in Salthill, Galway. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Galway 0-15 Mayo 1-11

By John Fogarty

Galway claimed local bragging rights for the second year running over 14-man Mayo despite not scoring for the final 17 minutes of action in Pearse Stadium.

In a wind-affected and often ill-tempered contest, Galway led by four points in the 51st minute but saw their lead drop to one by the 68th minute as Cillian O’Connor worked his magic. Substitute Aidan O’Shea made his presence felt in the middle but it wasn’t enough as Evan Regan was left to rue kicking two wides deep into additional time.

Galway, facing the wind, were four up on two occasions in the third quarter, the fire time coming in the 40th minute when Damien Comer ceased on some shaky play by Seamus O’Shea. David Clarke also had to be at his best to prevent Gary O’Donnell finding the net in the 39th minute.

Mayo would have been reasonably happy to be just one point in arrears at half-time, 0-9 to 1-5, considering they elected to face the gale in the opening 35 minutes. At the same time, losing Keith Higgins to a straight red card for lashing out at Comer was regrettable and silly from such an experienced player.

Galway had two points to their name within the first 34 seconds and it seemed the narrative was set for the half when Seán Armstrong added a free in the third minute. However, Mayo was next on the scoreboard when Kevin McLoughlin converted a point and he played a role in the next successful effort, a goal, when O'Connor's shot came off the post and McLoughlin was sharper than Liam Silke and he slotted home.

Galway were choosing not to play to their strengths. When they had totemic figures in midfield, they were kicking short. They were careful not to commit too many players in the Mayo half despite the elements and it was only in the latter stages when they began kicking long.

O’Connor had another goal chance in the ninth minute but hit the post and the sides were level on another two occasions before Galway struck over two points in a row, both from Armstrong placed balls. Higgins was dismissed in the 27th minute but Galway were outscored for the remainder of the half, Cillian O’Connor (free) and Fergal Boland pointing as opposed to another Armstrong 45.

Scorers for Galway: S. Armstrong (0-6, 3 frees, 3 45s); D. Comer, G. Sice (frees) (0-2 each); G. Bradshaw, M. Daly, S. Walsh, J. Heaney, E. Brannigan (0-1 each).

Scorers for Mayo: C. O’Connor (0-5, 0-4 frees); K. McLoughlin(1-1); F. Boland, D. O’Connor, A. Moran, P. Durcan (0-1 each).

GALWAY: R. Lavelle; C. Sweeney, D. Kyne, L. Silke; G. Bradshaw, G. O’Donnell (c), D. Wynne; P. Conroy, F. Ó Curraoin; T. Flynn, M. Daly, J. Heaney; S. Walsh, D. Comer, S. Armstrong.

Subs for Galway: G. Sice for T. Flynn (black, 30); E. Brannigan for D. Wynne (yellow, h-t); D. Cummins for M. Daly (70); M. Lundy for G. Sice (70+2).

MAYO: D. Clarke; C. Barrett, G. Cafferkey; K. Higgins; L. Keegan, P. Durcan, D. Vaughan; S. O’Shea, T. Parsons, S. Coen; D. O’Connor, F. Boland; A. Moran, K. McLoughlin, C. O’Connor (c).

Subs for Mayo: A. O’Shea for S. O’Shea, D. Kirby for A. Moran (both 48); J. Doherty for K. McLoughlin (58); E. Regan for F. Boland (61); C. Boyle for D. Vaughan (68); D. Drake for D. O’Connor (inj 70+3).

Sent off: K. Higgins (straight, 27).

Referee: P. Hughes (Armagh).

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