Michael Culhane, Galway, and Paul Towey, Mayo, during the EirGrid Connacht Under 20 Final at Tuam Stadium.
Michael Culhane, Galway, and Paul Towey, Mayo, during the EirGrid Connacht Under 20 Final at Tuam Stadium.

EirGrid Connacht U20 Final: Galway defeat Mayo

EirGrid Connacht Under 20 Football Championship Final

GALWAY 0-16 MAYO 0-10

By Declan Rooney at Tuam Stadium

Padraig Joyce’s Galway claimed the Connacht U-20 Championship after a classy performance at Tuam Stadium.

This was a convincing display from Galway, packed with fast paced football from start to finish and only Mayo scoring four points in a row near the end shrunk the eventual winning margin.

Four points from the outstanding Liam Costello set Galway on their way, while their excellent full-forward line of Darragh Silke, Padraig Costello and Rory Cunningham added 10 more between them.

With wind advantage in the opening half Galway could have done with a bright start, but instead Michael Solan’s Mayo dominated the early exchanges.

A pointed free from Evan O’Brien got them up and running in the first minute, while corner-forward Tommy Conroy worked a yard before he doubled Mayo’s lead in the third minute.

There was to be 31 more minutes play in the opening half and Mayo only added two points to their total as Galway took total control. Mayo didn’t help themselves with a lot of poor passing in the Galway half, and any time the home side added to those turnovers with quick ball into their forwards they benefited.

The sharpest Galway player early on was Liam Costello, who was a late change before throw-in for Michael Collins, and it was Costello that got Galway up and running after they forced a turnover around halfway in the fifth minute.

Rory Cunningham and Liam Costello benefited from more good work around the middle to push Galway into the lead, while Darragh Silke – brother of Galway senior player Liam – landed his first of four first-half points in the 21st minute.

Liam Costello’s third point of the half arrived when Matthew Tierney claimed a stray handpass from Mayo goalkeeper Jamie McNicholas, which was Galway’s fifth point in a row.

They didn’t have it all their own way though as Conroy scored a good point from the right and Eoghan McLaughlin was denied a goal when the Galway cover smothered his effort, but the Tribesmen finished the half with a strong kick. Five of the last six points scored went their way, with Padraig Costello finding his range, while substitute Conor Newell made an immediate impact after his introduction to put Galway 0-10 to 0-4 clear at the break.

The hungry foraging of the Galway half-back line was a big reason behind their second quarter surge, but it was Liam Costello’s willingness to fight a lost cause that put them nine points clear shortly after the restart. The Milltown player had no right to win a ball on the left wing, but he got there first, laid off the ball and got on the end of the move to score.

Mayo badly needed a score to retain any hopes of defending their title, and points from O’Brien and Conroy trimmed the deficit to seven points with 20 minutes to play but Silke and Padraig Costello ensured there was no way back for Mayo.

Scorers for Galway: Darragh Silke 0-5 (4fs), Liam Costello 0-4, Padraig Costello 0-3 (1f), Rory Cunningham 0-2, Conor Newell 0-1, Matthew Tierney 0-1 (f).

Scorers for Mayo: Evan O’Brien 0-4 (4fs), Tommy Conroy 0-3, Paul Towey 0-3.

GALWAY: Oran Burke; Eoghan McFadden, Seán Mulkerrin, Ross Mahon; Liam Boyle, Ciarán Potter, Jack Kirrane; Matthias Barrett, Matthew Tierney; Ben O’Connell, Gavin Burke, Liam Costello; Darragh Silke, Padraig Costello, Rory Cunningham.

Subs: Jack Glynn for Kirrane (18), Conor Newell for G Burke (24), Michael Culhane for O’Connell (half-time), Eoin Mannion for Mahon (54-56 blood), Eoin Mannion for Costello (56), Brian Harlowe for Culhane (60), Mikey O’Brien for L Costello (64).

MAYO: Jamie McNicholas; Jack Coyne, Rory Brickenden, Oisin Mullin; Aaron McDonnell, Conor Beirne, Eoghan McLaughlin; Evan O’Brien, Gavin Durcan; John Gallagher, Paul Towey, Paddy Goldrick; Aiden Orme, Stephen McGreal, Tommy Conroy.

Subs: Nathan Moran for Gallagher (36), David McBrien for McDonnell (40), Kuba Callaghan for McGreal (41), Ciaran Gavin for Orme (49).

REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).