Sligo were left to regret not scoring in the final 21 minutes as Galway forced a replay thanks to Cillian McDaid’s free three minutes from time at Dr Hyde Park yesterday.
The sides meet again on Saturday in Tuam Stadium, but for long periods it looked as if Patrick O’Connor’s first-half goal had edged it for Sligo.
Backed by the wind in the first half, Galway would have been happy with their bright start as midfielder Colm Ó Braonáin curled over a sweet point in the sixth minute before Finian Ó Laoi cut in off the right to double the lead three minutes later. Galway were wasteful in the opening period registering nine wides by the interval. The Sligo defence was sharp too however, and a 12th-minute block from the excellent Eddie McGuinness and another in added-time from Michael Gordon denied certain Galway goals.
Sligo finally got on the board thanks to Liam Gaughan’s 13th minute point but Galway soon reopened their two-point advantage when Ó‘Laoi made the most of a rebound from Eric Lee’s long-range free that crashed off the post. Gaughan kept Sligo in touch with a free four minutes from the break, but the game’s first goal fell to the Yeats men a minute later when Patrick O’Connor’s long punt squeezed under Ronan Ó Beoláin.
That fortuitous goal gave Sligo a 1-2 to 0-3 half-time lead and they looked good for a first title since the late 60s when Liam Gaughan slotted a free in the 35th minute. The impressive Ó Laoi showed well for Galway again two minutes later with a point from play, before Darragh Cummins kicked the point of the match after a slick move involving Finnian Cawley and Gaughan. Sligo led by three at that stage but Galway rallied well with Eric Lee (45), Ó Braonáin and McDaid registering the scores which secured a well deserved draw.
F Ó Laoi 0-3, C Ó Braonáin 0-2, C McDaid 0-1 (1f), E Lee 0-1 (1’45).
L Gaughan 0-3 (2f), P O’Connor 1-0, D Cummins 0-1.
R O Beolain; I Kent, D McHugh, C Mulry; S Kelly, L O Cellaigh, J Daly; C O Braonain, C McDaid; E Lee, C Marsden, F O Laoi; R Forde, M Boyle, C Brady
C Ryan for Marsden (36), P McCormack for Boyle (57), E Conroy for Brady (57).
E Kilgannon; B Mahon, E McGuinness, M O’Dowd; N Mullen, F Cawley, S Power; D Cummins, P Kilcoyne; L Gaughan, N Rooney, S Carrabine; K Cawley, P O’Connor, M Gordon
A Kearins for Mahon (35), C Herron for Carrabine (38), K Banks for Kilcoyne (54), R Kennedy for Gaughan (57), A McLoughlin for K Cawley (60).
Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)