TO paraphrase the great Oscar Wilde, to give away one goal was careless, two extremely shoddy, three pretty bad, but to concede four was unforgivable and Mayo were punished severely in this Connaught senior ladies final, which came to a dramatic conclusion at Elverys McHale Park, Castlebar, on Sunday afternoon.
Leading by 10 points with 15 minutes remaining on the running clock it seemed Mayo were destined to retain their provincial title, but when the final buzzer sounded it was Galway who had turned that deficit into a two-point profit and, in fact, it could have been five but for a brilliant last-second save from goalkeeper Aisling Tarpey.
To compound matters even further for Mayo, their star performer, Cora Staunton, was on fire, scoring 14 points, as she gave an exhibition, but it still wasn’t good enough.
In the end, it was the fresher legs of the Galway girls and their better combination play which saw them deservedly win, but Mayo will feel they did have the chances to close the door and should never have allowed Galway claw their way back.
Yet, when you consider the visitors had a penalty come back off the crossbar and were denied at least three points by the woodwork, then perhaps the final result is put into perspective.
This game didn’t really come to life until the second half as Mayo took a five-point lead with them to the dressing room - 1-8 to 1-5.
Those first half goals were of the highest quality, Aileen Gilroy, one of Mayo’s hardest workers on the day, sending a rocket to the net on 25 minutes as Mayo led by 1-7 to 0-3, Gilroy also chipping in with a point while Sarah Rowe also nailed a good score, the rest coming from the boot of Staunton from frees and from play.
But just before half-time Galway struck with a vital goal from Geraldine Conneally, who finished a very good move
from a very tight angle.
Two early points from Staunton from a free and from play had Mayo seven clear inside three minutes of the restart but this game was to take a dramatic twist when two Mayo players were sin-binned in a space of three minutes.
First to go was Gilroy and she was followed three minutes later by Claire Egan.
The numerical disadvantage didn’t seem to affect Mayo in the least and, in fact, they seemed to be able to cope much better, but ultimately it did take its toll on the rest of the team.
Staunton reeled off another four points, including a monster of a free from 55 yards, while she also nailed two fine efforts from play as Mayo stretched their lead to 10 points - 1-15 to 1-5 - with 15 minutes to go.
But then the first of three second-half Galway goals arrived and each in turn was better than the other.
They should have had a fourth but Sinead Burke saw her penalty come back off the crossbar and you felt it just wasn’t going to be Galway’s day.
The pick of the three had to be their third, which was flicked into the path of their impressive corner forward, Ellis Gannon, to leave just three points between them.
A Concannon free was negated by an excellent score from Gilroy who, along with Egan, were now back on board, but it was always Galway who were doing all the pressing and Mayo were under enormous pressure.
Too many frees were being given away and the in-form Concannon was on song as she kicked three on the bounce to
level the match.
The goal which ultimately swung this game for Galway was the simplest of the four, the cross from Conneally finding
substitute Gillian O’Connor unmarked on the edge of the area and she palmed the ball into an inviting the net to fire
Galway three points clear with seven minutes remaining. Mayo fought back courageously, Staunton blazing over the bar from a quick free, and the Carnacon player did all she could to try and rescue her team, perhaps a shade unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty as she seemed to be taken out as she cut through in the dying moments. However, but credit to a very disciplined Galway defence who were very much alert to the Mayo attacking threat.
As the game breathed its last goalkeeper Aisling Tarpey went down bravely to deny Galway a fifth goal but there was no way back for a Mayo team who were well outplayed in the last 15 minutes of what was an exciting and hugely entertaining final.
Mayo, of course, will get a second chance and their championship race is far from run but they will need to get a better return from their forwards and show a much more disciplined approach at the back.
scores for Galway: E. Concannon
1-6 (6f), E. Gannon 1-2, G. O’Connor
1-0, G. Conneally 1-0, S. Burke 0-1.
scorers for Mayo: C. Staunton
0-14 (8f), A. Gilroy 1-2, S. Rowe 0-1.
Mayo: A. Tarpey, M. Corbett,
N. Tierney, L. Ryder, S. Tierney,
C. Egan, C. Connolly, M. Carter,
C. McManamon, F. McHale, C.
Staunton, D. Doherty, S. Rowe, A.
Gilroy, Y. Byrne.
subs used: A. Bell for Tierney, C.
Hegarty for Byrne, A. Roddy for
Ryder, N. Kelly for Doherty.
Galway: J. Connolly, M. Coyne, S.
Conneally, A. Seoighe, B. Hannon,
A. Daly, S. Burke, E. Curley, A.
Clarke, D. Brennan, C. Hehir, G.
Conneally, E. Gannon, L. Joyce, E.
subs used: R. Leonard for Hehir E.
Flaherty for Seoighe, G. O’Connor
referee: J. Niland (Sligo).