Johnny Heaney’s goal proves crucial in the final tally as Galway narrowly beat Mayo
At half-time, Connacht SFC’s quarter-final seemed to be going in only one direction. And it wasn’t the destination that mattered.
But a spirited second half from Galway gave them a first championship win over Mayo in four tries and a real lifeline for Padraic Joyce, who arrived at Castlebar as the manager who was most under pressure.
Galway did it the hard way, building a six-point lead that was quickly eroded in the countdown when a resurgent Mayo threw it all at them.
However, the home side’s attempt was shattered when Aidan Ormes’ equalizer from a difficult angle went just wide.
At half-time Johnny Heaney’s early goal had given Galway the equalizer 6-1 9-0 but it was Mayo who was much more in the fast lane and applying much more physical pressure. And it felt like an inevitability of what was to come.
But after starting the second half on front foot, Mayo lost momentum and Shane Walsh showed his punching power with two frees from around the 45-yard mark and a 45 to set Galway in the right direction in the third quarter.
But the mainstay of Galway’s win was midfielder Pau Conroy. Now in his 30s he was great, scoring three points and providing so many assists and important tackles.
Galway developed well early on and was a point clear of Walsh from the throw-in as he weaved past Lee Keegan.
And in the seventh minute they were five points clear thanks to Heaney’s goal when he maneuvered his way into a hesitant Aidan O’Shea and flicked a Damien Comer ball past Rory Byrne over the sideline.
But a mark from Ryan O’Donoghue decided Mayo and although Comer all too easily knocked down a Conroy ball and time to collect it and lead Galway’s fourth point, the tide turned when Cillian O’Connor faced a turnover as Galway freed attacks deep in Mayo territory, led to a quick break with Eoghan McLaughlin and Finnian O Laoi, who initially lost the ball when he lost the ball quite hard with the black card after O’Connor appeared to overtake his in the comeback line had run .
While O Laois was out between the 21st and 31st minutes, Mayo put constant physical pressure everywhere to beat Galway 0-4, 0-2.
O’Donoghue scored a majestic strike to make it 5-0 to 7-0 and turned to the crowd with a raised fist to tap into the fresh energy building among the 24,557 in attendance.
O’Donoghue followed with a fisted point to equalize before Conroy traded his first and James Carr points at the break.
A key moment in the second half was Oisin Mullin’s injury defeat in the 39th minute.
Comer played a more prominent role in the second half, drifting off the field and making some meaningful runs in possession.
They were tied 1-14, 0-11 in the 63rd minute, but Mayo dominated the final 12 minutes, with Keegan inspiring the comeback with a point from the outside of his right foot.
But Galway deserved the win for the way they prevailed in the third quarter.
Galway: S Walsh 0-5 (2fs, 2 45s), J Heaney 1-1, P Conroy 0-3, K Molloy, D Comer, R Finnerty, C McDaid, N Daly 0-1 each.
Mayo: C O’Connor 0-6 (6fs), R O’Donoghue 0-4 (1m), J Carr- 0-2, E McLaughlin, K McLoughlin, L Keegan, D O’Connor 0-1 each.
Galway – C Gleeson; L Silke, J Glynn, S Kelly; D McHugh, J Daly, K Molloy; M Tierney, P Conroy; FO Laoi, N Daly, J Heaney; Finnerty R, Comer D, Walsh S.
Subtitle: P Kelly for N Daly (ht), C McDaid for O Laois (45), D Conneely for Finnerty (49), P Kelly for Tierney 65), J McGrath for Glynn inj (66)
MAYO – R Byrne; O Mullin, L Keegan, P O’Hora; S Coen, M Plunkett, E McLoughlin; A O’Shea, M Ruane; D O’Connor, J Doherty, C Loftus; C O’Connor, J Carr, R O’Donoghue.
Subtitle: E. Heesion for Mullin inj (39), A. Orme for Doherty (49), J. Carney for Loftus (58), K. McLoughlin for Coen (63), D. McHale for Carr (67).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/johnny-heaney-goal-proves-decisive-in-final-reckoning-as-galway-pip-mayo-by-the-minimum-41583208.html Johnny Heaney’s goal proves crucial in the final tally as Galway narrowly beat Mayo