GAA: Galway win 0-15 to 1-11 against Mayo in Connacht semi-final
By Ciaran McGreal
Last Updated: 12/06/17 11:40am
Connacht champions Galway defeated Mayo 0-15 to 1-11 in a thrilling clash at Pearse Stadium, as Kevin Walsh's men held on for victory to keep them in the hunt for a 46th Connacht SFC title.
Mayo played the majority of the game with 14 men after Keith Higgins was shown a red card for clashing with Damien Comer off the ball in the first half. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Mayo will count themselves unlucky not to have drawn the game as a couple of poor wides late on cost them dearly.
Galway had a very strong breeze behind them in the opening half and they wasted little time in making their mark. Damien Comer, Gareth Bradshaw and Sean Armstrong (free) all kicked points to give the hosts a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after just three minutes.
Kevin McLoughlin got Mayo off the mark as he clipped over a fifth-minute point and a minute later, the Knockmore man struck a brilliant goal. Lee Keegan's attempt at a point came back off the post and bounced down to McLoughlin who held off David Wynne before rifling past Ruairi Lavelle in the Galway goal.
Michael Daly responded for Galway before Shane Walsh weaved through the Mayo defence in the 12th minute to slot a great individual point. Cillian O'Connor hit back for Mayo with a free as the Ballintubber man opened his account.
Johnny Heaney became the latest Galway forward to get on the scoresheet as the Killanin man kicked Galway's sixth point in the 18th minute after good build-up play from the home side. O'Connor tied the game up again in the 23rd minute as he pointed his second free of the contest. Armstrong edged Galway in front with two points, the first a free followed by a well struck '45.
Higgins was dismissed by referee Joe McQuillan in the 26th minute, but Mayo finished the half strongly despite that loss as they trailed by just a point at the interval.
Armstrong (free) and substitute Eamonn Brannigan both kicked points to give Galway a three-point lead after the break. Diarmuid O'Connor responded for the visitors before David Clarke denied Galway captain Gary O'Donnell a goal with a smart save. Armstrong ('45) and Comer kept the scoreboard ticking for Galway with two quick fire scores to give the home side a four-point lead.
Andy Moran and Patrick Durcan kept Mayo in touch but substitute Gary Sice cancelled out those Mayo efforts with two pointed frees to make it 0-15 to 1-8 with 11 minutes to play.
Cillian O'Connor kicked another free before Johnny Heaney came to Galway's rescue with two goal-line blocks. Ruairi Lavelle was dispossessed and Danny Kirby looked to profit but Heaney did well to clear. The rebound fell to Diarmuid O'Connor but Heaney reacted brilliantly to keep Mayo at bay.
Cillian O'Connor kicked two inspirational points to leave just a point between the sides in the 68th minute. But the Mayo captain missed a free moments later and substitute Evan Regan kicked two wides as Mayo failed to find an equalising score.
Galway: R Lavelle; C Sweeney, D Kyne, L Silke; G Bradshaw (0-01), G O'Donnell (c), D Wynne; T Flynn, F Ó Curraoin; J Heaney (0-01), P Conroy, S Walsh (0-01); M Daly (0-01), D Comer (0-02), S Armstrong (0-06, 0-03f, 0-03'45).
Subs: G Sice (0-02, 0-02f) for Flynn (31 Black card), E Brannigan (0-01) for Wynne (h-t), D Cummins for Daly (70), M Lundy for Sice (72).
Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; D Vaughan, L Keegan, P Durcan (0-1); S O'Shea, T Parsons; F Boland (0-1), D O'Connor (0-1), S Coen; K McLoughlin (1-1), C O'Connor (0-6, 5f), A Moran (0-1).
Subs: A O'Shea for S O'Shea (48), D Kirby for Moran (48), J Doherty for McLoughlin (58), E Regan for Boland (61), C Boyle for Vaughan (69), D Drake for D O'Connor (72).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)