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Connacht SFC: Galway advance to decider

Galway's Johnny Heaney celebrates at Markievicz Park.

Galway's Johnny Heaney celebrates at Markievicz Park.

Connacht Senior Football Championship


By Daragh Small at Markievicz Park

Reigning champions Galway are back in the Connacht final after a 13-point victory over Sligo at Markievicz Park.

Kevin Walsh’s men haven’t won provincial titles back-to-back since 2003 but Liam Silke scored 1-2 from corner back and they are just 70 minutes away from ruling Connacht again. Galway held a narrow 0-5 to 0-3 lead at half-time after they played against the breeze and dominated.

But both sides were mostly erratic when they got their few chances in front of goal. Galway did convert their first two goal chances after half time with Silke and Johnny Heaney on target.

Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh was sent-off and then Martin Farragher rounded things off with a 1-1 haul on his first inter-county appearance for Galway. It was a hectic opening salvo with Sligo captain Niall Murphy and Galway corner back Liam Silke on target inside three minutes, but there wouldn’t be another score for a quarter of an hour.

Corofin’s AIB Club Footballer of the year Kieran Molloy departed with a serious looking injury in the 15th minute when he collided with a combination of Shane Walsh and Sligo’s Paul Kilcoyne.

That was a huge blow for Galway, but the players responded well on the field after the introduction of Gary O’Donnell. Galway scored three points in a row between the 18th and 24th minutes.

Fiontán Ó Curraoin sent over a nice point from the right, Walsh added a free and Michael Daly scored a brilliant effort from another tight angle to put Galway a goal in front.Walsh could have scored the first goal of the game shortly afterwards, but he blazed his shot right and wide of Eamonn Kilgannon’s goal.

Sligo were still in the game despite being dominated and a couple of points from Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch and Kilcoyne reduced the arrears to the minimum on the half-hour mark.Silke doubled his tally with two minutes of normal time remaining and a poor first half finished on a desperate whimper.The second half started as the first had ended and Michael Daly drove two Galway chances wide.

Sligo opened the scoring through Murphy’s second free. Galway’s first point of half arrived through Walsh and he tapped over a free for a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage with seven minutes gone.

Galway ripped Sligo to shreds in the 44th and 45th minute when first Heaney fisted across and Silke tapped into the net. And then Michael Daly’s shot came back off the post and Heaney was there to finish the killer second goal.Murphy continued to take the fight to Galway, and he landed an exquisite score with the outside of his boot in the 50th minute, adding a similar effort two minutes later.

Then Seán Carrabine squeezed in a point from the left and all of a sudden there was just two goals between the teams. But those scores were consolations as Walsh tagged on his third free.Michael Daly scored and substitutes Eamonn Brannigan and Farragher (goal) were on target either side Ó Ceallaigh’s second yellow card.

Scorers for Galway: Liam Silke 1-2, Shane Walsh 0-4 (3fs), Martin Farragher 1-1, Johnny Heaney 1-0, Michael Daly 0-2, Fiontán Ó Curraoin 0-1, Eamonn Brannigan 0-1.

Scorers for Sligo: Niall Murphy 0-4 (2fs), Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch 0-1, Paul Kilcoyne 0-1, Seán Carrabine 0-1.

GALWAY: Bernard Power; Eoghan Kerin, Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Liam Silke; Kieran Molloy, Gareth Bradshaw, John Daly; Thomas Flynn, Fiontán Ó Curraoin; Shane Walsh, Michael Daly, Johnny Heaney; Antaine Ó Laoi, Ian Burke, Danny Cummins.

Subs: Gary O’Donnell for Molloy (16), Eamonn Brannigan for Cummins (55), Robert Finnerty for Ó Laoi (61), Cillian McDaid for Heaney (64), Martin Farragher for Burke (66), Johnny Duane for Bradshaw (68).

SLIGO: Eamonn Kilgannon; Peter Laffey, Michael Gordon, Paul McNamara; Adrain McIntyre, Darragh Cummins, Nathan Mullen; Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, Paul Kilcoyne; Keelan Cawley, Paddy O’Connor, Mikey Gordon; Sean Carrabine, Pat Hughes, Niall Murphy.

Subs: Adrian Marren for Hughes (53), Neil Ewing for Gordon (53), Karl McKenna for Cawley (61), Luke Nicholson for McNamara (66), David Quinn for O’Connor (68).

REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down).