Mayo hold off Galway rally to earn FBD League final spot
In a game that ebbed and flowed, Mayo withstood a late rally by rivals Galway to earn their place in the FBD League final, winning by 2-18 to 3-12 in the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome in Bekan.
Late goals from Galway's Matthew Tierney and substitute Tomo Culhane helped reduce a gap that at one stage had opened up to nine points down to just two, but a late score by Bob Tuohy settled the issue once and for all in Mayo's favour.
The opening exchanges were even enough but Mayo came with a strong second quarter, goals by Paul Towey and James Carr helping to give the Green and Red a very healthy half-time 10-point lead (2-9 to 0-5).
Galway enjoyed a good opening 10 minutes in the second half and Culhane – who made a big impact after coming on as a half-time substitute – found the net from close range on 43 minutes to cut the gap to five (2-10 to 1-8).
The deficit was still five points at the end of the third quarter (2-12 to 1-10) and Mayo appeared to have quelled the Galway challenge when they landed a success of sweet points through Bryan Walsh, Aiden Orme, Paul Towey, James Carr and substitute Kuba Callaghan to lead by 2-17 to 1-11 with eight minutes to go.
Tierney's goal with seven left made it interesting, while Culhane's goal with three remaining left it in the melting pot. The goals sandwiched a point by Damien Comer (another sub), meaning the gap was just two (2-17 to 3-12), and Galway could have won it with another goal.
They had a chance to find the net again when substitute Nathan Grainger ran on to Tierney's pass but Mayo 'keeper Rory Byrne saved at his feet, and Tuohy's point at the other end a minute later sealed the deal for Mayo.
Mayo: R. Byrne; J. Coyne, R. Brickenden, S. Callinan; F. Kelly, S. Coen, D. McHugh; M. Ruane (0-1), J. Flynn; F. McDonagh (0-1), B. Tuohy (0-1), B. Walsh (0-3); A. Orme (0-5, 1f), J. Carr (1-2), P. Towey (1-4, 2f).
Subs used: G. Durcan, C. Dempsey, K. Callaghan (0-1), C. Dunleavy for Kelly.
Galway: B. Power; C. Sweeney (0-1), S. Fitzgerald, J. Foley; D. McHugh, B. Mannion, D. O’Flaherty; J. Maher (0-1), M. Barrett; D. Canney, M. Tierney (1-0), J. Heaney (0-3); I. Burke, R. Finnerty (0-2), B. McHugh (0-2, 1f).
Subs used: E. Kelly, P. Kelly, E. Murphy, T. Culhane (2-2), J. Kirrane, J. McLoughlin, D. Comer (0-1), B. Mannion, N. Grainger.
Referee: B. Judge (Sligo).