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Connacht SFC Final: Mayo win in the west

Mayo midfielder Matthew Ruane has been in fine form this year.

Mayo midfielder Matthew Ruane has been in fine form this year.

Connacht SFC Final

MAYO 0-14 GALWAY 0-13

By Cian O'Connell at Pearse Stadium

This was a Connacht decider with a difference and ultimately the green and red prevailed by the narrowest of margins in Salthill.

A first provincial crown since 2015 ensures James Horan’s Mayo head for the All Ireland series at Croke Park heartened.

This was an attritional contest in the west, but Mayo did just enough to earn the Nestor Cup with Stephen Coen and Mattie Ruane influential.

In this restructured campaign Mayo’s mix of emerging and established players have dovetailed nicely, but the character demonstrated against Galway augurs well.

Late on in the dying embers Galway posed significant questions, but just couldn’t land some awkward attempts.

Shane Walsh, who did his bit for the maroon and white cause with a string of gorgeous scores, was unfortunate that a couple of demanding efforts near the death went wide.

While thousands of Mayo supporters were unable to attend referee Sean Hurson’s final whistle still drew a guttural roar of from the victorious players and officials. It was that sort of occasion with the stakes piled high.

In the opening period Mayo crafted chances, but the worrying statistic for the green and red at the interval was the fact that only 0-8 had been converted from 17 shots.

At the opposite end of the field Galway were efficient mining 0-5 from 6 ensuring they only trailed at the turnaround by three.

That was certainly a source of satisfaction for Padraic Joyce’s outfit, who had played into the teeth of a strong wind initially with Seán Ó Maolchiaráin in a sweeper role.

Ian Burke, Galway, and Oisin Mullin, Mayo, during the Connacht SFC Final at Pearse Stadium.

Ian Burke, Galway, and Oisin Mullin, Mayo, during the Connacht SFC Final at Pearse Stadium.

Mayo, with Tommy Conroy sharp inside, edged 0-5 to 0-1 clear by the 16th minute, but Galway summoned a brave response.

By the time the interval rolled around Mayo led by 0-8 to 0-5 ensuring the issue was most delicately poised.

When the action recommenced Mayo struck three of the first four points to edge five ahead with Ruane and Tommy Conroy prominent.

Considering the conditions it was a healthy advantage, but Galway came thundering back, introducing talisman Damien Comer, with Walsh and Paul Conroy spearheading the comeback mission.

Crucially Mayo were 0-14 to 0-11 ahead in the closing moments when Conroy trimmed the deficit with his third sweet point of the afternoon.

Galway called for a penalty deep into additional time when Sean Kelly was fouled, but referee Sean Hurson awarded a free which Walsh converted.

Mayo were merely one to the good, but it was sufficient. A trip to GAA headquarters beckons.

Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-4 (3fs), Tommy Conroy 0-3, Bryan Walsh and Mattie Ruane 0-2 each, Paddy Durcan, Diarmuid O’Connor, and Ryan O’Donoghue (m) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 0-7 (4fs), Paul Conroy 0-3, Paul Kelly, Dessie Conneely, and Gary O’Donnell 0-1 each.

MAYO: David Clarke; Paddy Durcan, Chris Barrett, Oisin Mullin; Stephen Coen, Lee Keegan, Eoghan McLaughlin; Conor Loftus, Mattie Ruane; Kevin McLoughlin, Ryan O’Donoghue, Diarmuid O’Connor; Tommy Conroy, Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor.

Subs: Bryan Walsh for O’Donoghue (HT), Jordan Flynn for Loftus (58), Mark Moran for Conroy (60), Keith Higgins for McLoughlin (64), Fionn McDonagh for Ruane (70+3).

GALWAY: Bernard Power; Liam Silke, Sean Kelly, Cillian McDaid; Gary O’Donnell, Johnny Duane, Johnny Heaney; Cein D’Arcy, Michael Daly; Paul Kelly, Paul Conroy, Sean Ó Maoilchiaráin; Ian Burke, Dessie Conneely, Shane Walsh.

Subs: Ronan Steede for D’Arcy (23), Gareth Bradshaw for Duane (27), Kieran Molloy for O’Donnell (48), Damien Comer for Burke (49), Gary Sice for P Kelly (64).

REFEREE: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).