MAYO have been forced to take the scenic route for the remainder of the All-Ireland championship after their bid to get back into a Connaught final was ended by Galway for the second year running at windswept Pearse Stadium in Salthill before a crowd of just over 22,000.
There may have been a storm blowing in from the wild Atlantic all day before it finally eased for the 4 p.m. throw-in but there was another storm brewing on the pitch as both Mayo and Galway brought their physical game to the table.
However, this game swung drmatically towards Galway when Keith Higgins was given a straight red card following an incident with Galway's influential full-forward, Damein Comer, who proved a handful for the Mayo defence.
Battling Galway and that strong wind with 15 men was always going to be tough but with 14 men the climb for Mayo proved to be much steeper and one they were unable to scale despite making a brave attempt.
Mayo were two points adrfit when Higgins saw red on 26 minutes (1-3 to 0-8) but by half-time, even with with 14 men, Mayo looked to be a very strong position as they trailed by just a point - 1-5 to 0-9 - and had that gale to their backs to help them in the second half.
It was a cracking goal from Kevin McLoughlin, who pounced on a Lee Keggan effort which came back off the upright, which proved to be the crucial score in that first half as Mayo fell three points behind.
Galway hit the ground running with two points on the board inside the first 90 seconds and they were three ahead after two minutes befoe Kevin McLoughlin got Mayo off the mark on four minutes with a good point.
That McLoughlin goal had Mayo in front for the first and only time in the game as Galway put a lot of presure.
Galway wasted no time in getting on the board in the seocnd half with two rapid points from Sean Armstrong (free) and substitute Eamon Brannigan to go three points ahead.
However, they were to stretch that to four when a poor kickout from David Clarke was punished by Comer.
The arirval of Aidan O'Shea boosted Mayo's presence around the middle of the field and a superb point from Andy Moran provided the spark for Mayo's revival, the Ballaghaderreen man amazingly substituted just after landing the score.
Patrick Durcan produced a brilliant point to narrow the gap to two but two Gary Sice frees eased Galway back into s four point lead again with 10 minutes remaining.
In a game which was to produce seven minutes of injury-time, Mayo went to therwell oonce more with three points on the boucne from Cillian O Connor including a monster of a point from a free from all of 70 yards to close the gap to one with three minutes of normal time remaining.
To add to the drama, Aidan O'Shea had a point ruled out for what the referee signalled as an illegal hand-pass by Cillian O'Connor leading up to the score.
In a game that seemed to be heading to a replay in Castlebar, there were some dramatic moments in the closing stages as Galway began to play Russian Roulette with their kickouts and it took two goal-line clearances from Johnny Heaney, who played a crucial role as sweeper, to deny Mayo a goal, but they did have chances to find the levelling point, Evan Regan with the best chance which was well wide.
Galway: R. Lavelle, C. Sweeney, D. Kyne, L. Silke, G. Bradshaw (0-1), G. O’Donnell, D. Wynne, T. Flynn, F. Ó Curraoin, J. Heaney (0-1), P. Conroy, S. Walsh (0-1), M. Daly (0-1), D. Comer (0-2), S. Armstrong (0-6, 3f, 3’45s).
Subs used: G. Sice (0-2, 2f) for Flynn (31, BC), E. Brannigan (0-1) for Wynne (ht), 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, 0-5f), A. Moran (0-1).
Subs used: A O’Shea for S O’Shea (49), D. Kirby for A. Moran (50), J. Doherty for McLoughlin (58), E. Regan for Boland (61), C. Boyle for Vaughan (69), D. Drake for D. O’Connor (73).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).