By John Fallon at Pearse Stadium
Galway 1-13 Mayo 0-11
All-Ireland finalists Mayo finished with 13 men as they fell to another defeat to arch-rivals Galway in a fiery contest at Pearse Stadium.
The Tribesmen had Paul Conroy sent off for a second yellow card in the closing stages before Mayo lost the O’Connor brothers, Cillian to a red card and Diarmuid to a second yellow.
But it was a contest where Galway always had an edge as they chalked up their third win of the campaign and lay down a marker when these two meet in the championship in Castlebar in May.
Galway did not score for the closing 15 minutes of the opening half but still led by 1-4 to 0-5 at the interval.
It took Stephen Rochford’s men 13 minutes to register their first score when Cillian O’Connor pointed a free from 20 metres.
Shane Walsh responded for Galway and raced through to score a good point.
Kevin McLoughlin cut the gap to the minimum with a free after 18 minutes, but from the restart Paul Conroy set up Barry McHugh and he raced through to fire home a good goal into the left corner of the net.
Walsh followed up with a free to push Galway into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead after 19 minutes but they did not add to their tally for the remainder of the half.
Mayo reduced the margin when Paddy Durcan scored their first point from play after 20 minutes.
Diarmuid O’Connor found the range and then younger brother Cillian cut the margin to two in stoppage time with a free to leave them 1-4 to 0-5 adrift at the interval.
Barry McHugh and Johnny Heaney extended Galway’s lead before Cillian O’Connor hit back for Mayo during a lively start to the second-half in front of a crowd of 9,850.
Paul Conroy and Colm Boyle then exchanged points but another Conroy effort for Galway and one from Barry McHugh pushed them five clear going into the final quarter.
Mayo struggled to get scores from play but another O’Connor free reduced the margin.
But it was Galway who responded with efforts from McHugh and Eamon Brannigan to lead by 1-11 to 0-8 with 10 minutes of regular time left.
But the game disintegrated from there with several rows breaking out all over the field and eventually referee Anthony Nolan started dismissing players.
Galway: B McHugh 1-3 (0-2f), E Brannigan 0-3, P Conroy 0-2, S Walsh 0-2 (0-1f), D Comer 0-2, J Heaney 0-1.
Mayo: C O’Connor 0-5 (0-5f), K McLoughlin 0-1 (f), P Durcan 0-1, J Doherty 0-1 (f), D O’Connor 0-1, C Boyle 0-1, E O’Donoghue 0-1.
Galway: R Lavelle; D Kyne, SA O Ceallaigh, E Kerin; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw (J Duane 77), J Heaney; P Conroy, P Cooke (T Flynn 60); S Kelly (G O’Donnell 76), S Walsh, E Brannigan; P Sweeney (S Armstrong 36), D Comer (C D’Arcy 77), B McHugh (A Varley 70).
Mayo: D Clarke; G Cafferkey (D Newcombe 39-52), C Crowe (G McDonagh 38-52), E O’Donoghue; C Boyle (J Stretton 63), P Durcan (S Nally 77), S Coen; J Gibbons, A O’Shea; J Doherty, M Hall, D O’Connor; C Loftus (A Gallagher 57), C O’Connor, K McLoughlin (F Boland 59).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).