Mayo retain their title with commanding second-half display
Mayo retained their Connacht GAA senior football championship title a tad easier than might have been expected with a 2-14 to 2-8 victory over Galway at Croke Park this afternoon.
The Tribesmen really put it up to Mayo in the first half and enjoyed 2-5 to 0-6 lead against their fierce rivals, but the champions really upped the ante in the second half and ran out convincing winners in the end.
Those Galway goals, scored by the elusive Shane Walsh and the powerful Damien Comer (set up by Walsh), had the challengers in a great position at half-time, but Mayo nullified the influence of those two dangerous players, as well as the marauding Paul Conroy, in the second half.
Without the platform that those players had given in the first half, Galway lost their way.
By way of contrast, Mayo were a different animal in the second period after an uncharacteristically lethargic first-half display.
The introduction of half-time subs Eoghan McLaughlin and Kevin McLoughlin was a big boost and an early penalty, scored by Ryan O'Donoghue after Matthew Ruane had been hauled down, set the tone.
Mayo notched an unanswered 1-6 to turn the five-point half-time deficit into a four-point lead.
Two Matthew Tierney frees had the gap down to two again, 1-12 to 2-7, but a goal from man of the match Ruane gave Mayo an unassailable lead heading into the home stretch.
In the end Galway managed just three frees in the second half as they couldn't cope with Mayo's renewed intensity, and a second yellow card for substitute Michael Farragher late on summed up their frustrating afternoon.
As Connacht champions, Mayo march on to an All-Ireland semi-final and a possible re-match with Dublin, the team they lost to in last December's decider.
Mayo: Robbie Hennelly (0-1 45'); Lee Keegan, Padraig O'Hora, Michael Plunkett; Paddy Durcan (0-1), Oisin Mullin, Stephen Coen; Matthew Ruane (1-2), Conor Loftus (0-2); Bryan Walsh, Aidan O'Shea, Diarmuid O'Connor; Tommy Conroy (0-2), Darren McHale (0-1), Ryan O'Donoghue (1-3, 0-2f, 1-0p). Subs: Eoghan McLaughlin, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Jordan Flynn (blood), Rory Brickenden, Enda Hession, James Carr (0-1), Conor O'Shea.
Galway: Connor Gleeson; Seán Ó Ceallaigh, Seán Mulkerrin, Liam Silke; Kieran Molloy, Dylan McHugh, Johnny Heaney; Paul Conroy (0-2), Matthew Tierney (0-4, 0-3f); Damien Comer (1-0), Peter Cooke, Cathal Sweeney (0-1); Robert Finnerty, Shane Walsh (1-1), Pól Ó Ceallaigh. Subs: Finnian Ó Laoí, Jack Glynn, Michael Farragher, Eamonn Brannigan, Johnny Duane.
*See Tuesday's print edition of The Connaught Telegraph for comprehensive match coverage.