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Connacht SFC: Galway take prized Mayo scalp

Jason Doherty, Mayo, and Sean Kelly, Galway, in Connacht SFC action.

Jason Doherty, Mayo, and Sean Kelly, Galway, in Connacht SFC action.

Connacht Senior Football Championship Quarter Final

GALWAY 1-14 MAYO 0-16

By Cian O'Connell at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park

Late on there was chaos and a Mayo comeback mission, but this blue sky afternoon in Castlebar belonged to Galway.

Following three Championship losses in a row against the green and red, Galway travelled up the N17 eager to deliver a defiant display. The fact that the prized Mayo scalp was taken merely added to the sense of satisfaction.

There was even a pitch invasion at the end because this victory mattered so deeply to Galway. Pádraic Joyce's charges, inspired by the brilliance of Paul Conroy and Damien Comer, survived a late Mayo rally to secure a provincial semi-final date against Leitrim.

It was a match that ebbed and flowed throughout. Galway made a burst edging 1-4 to 0-2 ahead. Then Mayo responded with seven of the next nine scores to level before the break.

After the restart James Carr made it eight from 10 as Mayo moved in front. Galway, though, reeled off six points without reply before Mayo inevitably thundered back into the reckoning.

Galway did enough to hold on - just about, but the resilience demonstrated will have delighted Joyce and his backroom team.

At the outset Galway were motoring well with Johnny Heaney's seventh minute goal following a passage of play featuring Shane Walsh and Comer steering them into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead.

Comer was relevant, and Conroy immense, but Mayo, in trademark fashion, summoned a response. Ryan O'Donoghue carried a potent threat inside, Eoghan McLaughlin scampered forward, and James Carr again enjoyed productive moments against the maroon team.

Carr's point in first half stoppage time sent Mayo in level, 0-9 to 1-6.

Two minutes into the second period Carr landed another score. Mayo subsequently failed to raise a white flag, though, for 22 minutes.

During that spell Galway struck six points - Kieran Molloy, three immaculate placed ball efforts from Walsh, substitute Cillian McDaid, and Conroy all contributing.

Cillian O'Connor then nailed a free for Mayo in the 57th minute, but Conroy and Heaney replied for Galway, who pulled 1-14 to 0-11 clear with six minutes remaining.

Mayo then stitched a five point sequence together, sparked by a sweet Lee Keegan score. O'Donoghue, O'Connor (two frees), and substitute Kevin McLoughlin fired over points to leave the minimum between the teams. For Galway it was enough.

Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 0-5 (2fs, 245s), Johnny Heaney 1-1, Paul Conroy 0-3, Rob Finnerty, Niall Daly, Damien Comer, Cillian McDaid, and Kieran Molloy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O'Connor 0-6 (6fs), Ryan O'Donoghue 0-4 (1m), James Carr 0-2, Lee Keegan, Eoghan McLaughlin, Kevin McLoughlin and Diarmuid O'Connor 0-1 each.

GALWAY: Connor Gleeson; Liam Silke, Jack Glynn, Seán Kelly; Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Kieran Molloy; Paul Conroy, Matthew Tierney; Finnian Ó Laoi, Niall Daly, Johnny Heaney; Rob Finnerty, Damien Comer, Shane Walsh.

Subs: Patrick Kelly for N Daly (HT), Cillian McDaid for Ó Laoi (45), Dessie Conneely for Finnerty (49), Paul Kelly for Tierney (65), Johnny McGrath for Glynn (66).

MAYO: Rory Byrne; Oisín Mullin, Lee Keegan, Pádraig O'Hora; Stephen Coen, Michael Plunkett, Eoghan McLaughlin; Aidan O'Shea, Mattie Ruane; Diarmuid O'Connor, Jason Doherty, Conor Loftus; Cillian O'Connor, James Carr, Ryan O'Donoghue.

Subs: Enda Hession for Mullin (40), Aiden Orme for Doherty (49), Jack Carney for Loftus (58), Kevin McLoughlin for Coen (64), Darren McHale for Carr (67).

REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath).