High drama in Limerick as Mayo defeat Galway in All-Ireland qualifier
Mayo survived a second-half comeback from Galway to book their place in the Super 8s as they won this evening's All-Ireland SFC round four qualifier in the LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, by 2-13 to 1-13.
Galway's goal, a close-range free by Shane Walsh through a crowd of players, was the final score of the game as the Tribesmen were left to rue their failure to score from the penalty spot earlier on after Chris Barrett had fouled Ian Burke as he prepared to shoot for goal.
David Clarke made an excellent stop to deny Liam Silke from the penalty spot, but Galway were on a roll at the time and quickly added three points to leave just three between the sides (2-10 to 0-13).
Mayo had been in the ascendancy all through up to that stage after making a blistering start to the game, going 1-2 up without reply as Cillian O'Connor (free) and Kevin McLoughlin points were bolstered by a James Carr goal, a real poacher's effort.
Gary O'Donnell and Peter Cooke responded with two points in a row but Carr stunned everyone in the grounds with a superb second effort that emanated from a Mayo kick-out, David Clarke finding Paddy Durcan in acres of space who in turn fed the Ardagh man – but no-one expected him to run from deep and blast the ball to the top corner.
That's what he did, however, and in the end it proved to be the decisive score.
Four points from O'Connor (three frees) and one from Darren Coen kept Mayo comforably ahead in that first half, although Galway had a good second quarter, Peter Cooke in particular who landed three more points alongside efforts from Cillian McDaid and Shane Walsh (free).
It still left Galway trailing by those two goals at the break, 0-7 to 2-7, and they were unable to make up the ground in the second half.
They gave it a great try though. Mayo landed the opening two scores through Darren Coen and Stephen Coen before Shane Walsh (free) and Jason Doherty traded scores, and then Galway reeled off five without reply.
Shane Walsh (45'), Eamon Brannigan (two), Michael Daly and Kieran Molloy were the scorers, but Silke's failure to score from the spot in the middle of that run of dominance was to prove pivotal.
Darren Coen stopped the rot for Mayo and when Cillian O'Connor (free) and Donal Vaughan followed up to leave it 2-13 to 0-13 approaching full-time, it appeared as though Mayo had done enough.
They had to endure seven minutes of injury time but were able to keep Galway at bay until Shane Walsh's late free found the net. The Tribesmen's efforts were not helped by indiscipline which saw a number of men carded, including the dismissal of Ian Burke when a black followed an earlier yellow.
Mayo's opponents in the Super 8s will be Donegal, Kerry and the winners of tomorrow's Meath v Clare round four qualifier. Earlier today, Tyrone and Cork also qualified for the Super 8s with victories over Cavan and Laois respectively.