Fintan O’Toole reports from Castlebar
JUST THE ONE shot was planted in the net this afternoon in Castlebar but it arrived deep in injury-time to critically swing this Connacht quarter-final in the direction of Galway.
Johnny Heaney smashed home the only goal of the game in the 74th minute after a pop pass sent him surging through the Mayo rearguard and the Galway wing-forward’s intervention propelled his side towards a semi-final meeting with Sligo.
Cillian O’Connor pulled a point back from a free shortly after for Mayo yet Thomas Flynn applied the finishing touch to Galway’s performance when he punched over a late point.
After 80 odd minutes of action – largely necessitated by a lengthy stoppage after Mayo’s Tom Parsons suffered a serious leg injury in the second half – the spoils had gone the way of Kevin Walsh’s side.
It took them a long time to put paid to Mayo’s hopes of victory as Stephen Rochford’s team persevered with 14 men after the dismissal of Diarmuid O’Connor.
The course of the game had shifted in the 28th minute. O’Connor was carrying the ball out of defence but as Paul Conroy approached, the Ballintubber man went in leading with his elbow. Conroy was stricken on the turf and subsequently substituted, O’Connor’s involvement also ended as he saw a red card flashed before him.
Damien Comer looked a real menace for Galway early on, smacking over a couple of lovely points to push them ahead 0-5 to 0-2 by the 18th minute. Mayo’s attacking play looked predictable but they scrubbed out that deficit by the 26th minute as Conor Loftus clipped over a pair of frees and Kevin McLoughlin booted over another.
Galway went in at the break protecting a 0-7 to 0-6 advantage, an Andy Moran point deep into injury-time instilling a little hope into Mayo’s challenge.
The second half descended into an intense battle. Neither side budged and they were level on five occasions with neither pushing ahead by a clear margin.
Kevin McLoughlin swung over a 71st minute point to tie the teams at 0-11 apiece and leave the home fans in the attendance of 29,449 in full voice in MacHale Park. But the prospect of extra-time was wiped out by Heaney’s strike as the game was settled.
Scorers for Galway: Johnny Heaney 1-0, Shane Walsh 0-3 (0-1f), Ciarán Duggan, Barry McHugh (0-2f), Damien Comer 0-2 each, Thomas Flynn, Seán Armstrong. Seán Kelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Conor Loftus 0-3 (0-3f), Andy Moran, Kevin McLoughlin, Cillian O’Connor (0-1f) 0-2 each, Keith Higgins, Tom Parsons, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1 each.
1. Ruairí Lavelle (Renvyle)
2. Declan Kyne (Clonbur)
3. Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Naomh Ánna, Leitir Mór)
4. Eoghan Kerin (Annaghdown)
5. Gary O’Donnell (Tuam Stars)
6. Gareth Bradshaw (Moycullen)
7. Cathal Sweeney (Killanin)
9. Ciaran Duggan (Annaghdown)
11. Paul Conroy (St James)
12. Johnny Heaney (Killanin)
15. Barry McHugh (Mountbellew/Moylough)
8. Thomas Flynn (Athenry)
10. Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin/Clonberne)
13. Seán Armstrong (Salthill/Knocknacarra)
14. Damien Comer (Annaghdown)
20. Peter Cooke (Moycullen) for Conroy (blood) (31)
17. Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael’s) for Kyne (49)
19. Ian Burke (Corofin) for Armstrong (58)
22. Seán Kelly (Moycullen) for Flynn (63)
21. Johnny Duane (St James) for Bradshaw (69)
24. Adrian Varley (Cortoon Shamrocks) for McHugh (73)
8. Flynn for Cooke (black card) (75)
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
2. Eoghan O’Donoghue (Belmullet)
18. Chris Barrett (Belmullet)
5. Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
4. Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
6. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
7. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore)
8. Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy)
9. Tom Parsons (Charlestown)
10. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
11. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
12. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
23. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
15 Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen)
13. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina)
14. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber) for Parsons (inj) (47)
19. David Drake (Ballaghderreen) for Loftus (59)
26. James Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels) for Doherty (62)
22. Cian Hanley (Ballaghaderreen) for Seamus O’Shea (68)
20. Donal Vaughan (Castlebar Mitchels) for Moran (72)
17. Brendan Harrison (Aghamore) for O’Donoghue (73)
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
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