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Mayo storm back to beat Galway in Connacht final after trailing by five at half-time

James Horan’s side outscored Galway by 2-8 to 0-3 in the second-half.

Mayo 2-14

Galway 2-8

AT HALF-TIME things were looking precarious for Mayo. 

aidan-oshea-lifts-the-j-j-nestor-cup-as-mayo-are-connacht-champions Aidan O'Shea lifts the JJ Nestor Cup. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Last year’s All-Ireland finalists trailed their great rivals Galway by five points after a flat first-half display. Their attack was slow and laboured and defensively they were struggling to deal with the class of Shane Walsh and Damien Comer.

A goal from either forward left the Tribesmen in a commanding position at the break. Whatever James Horan said at half-time did the trick for Mayo.

He introduced speed merchant Eoghan McLaughlin and veteran Kevin McLoughlin, while Oisin Mullen moved onto Shane Walsh. He nullified the Galway star and Padraig O’Hora managed to shut down Comer. Matthew Ruane thundered into the game and his 67th minute goal sent the Westerners five clear and put the game beyond Galway.

He deservedly picked up man-of-the-match after finishing with 1-2 and winning Mayo’s penalty.

Aidan O’Shea moved into the edge of the square and Mayo got their running game going from deep. They were a different side after the break, they hunted in packs, turning over ball and won the breaks on kick-outs.

matthew-ruane-celebrates-after-scoring-a-goal Matthew Ruane celebrates his goal. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Horan’s men outscored Galway by 1-4 to no score during a clinical third quarter when they stepped things up a level or two. Mayo opened up in the closing stages and had what looked to be a legitimate Ryan O’Donoghue goal disallowed, while McLaughlin forced a stunning save from Gleeson and James Carr took a late point with the goal at his mercy.

Captain O’Shea lifted the Connacht title for the 48th time in the county’s history and they now progress to the All-Ireland semi-final where they’ll face the Leinster champions in three weeks.

Mayo started with Comer in a two-man full-forward line alongside Robert Finnerty, with Shane Walsh operating in a free role between the lines. He was picked up by Keegan, with Michael Plunkett dropping to protect the last line of defence.

Mayo withdrew O’Shea as a third midfielder and they looked sharper at the start. They led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 11 minutes before the Paul Conroy started to get himself on plenty of ball in the middle.

He clipped his second score in the 14th minute and a shot at the posts five minutes later led to Galway’s first goal. Conroy’s point effort bounced off the post and back into the danger zone.

Shane Walsh was almost 40 metres from goal but he came alive and reacted far quicker than Keegan. He smashed the ball home to send the Tribesmen 1-3 to 0-4 in front. 

Galway had lost Finnerty and Sean Kelly to injury in the first-half, but they were controlling the game. All around the field their key men were winning their individual battles. Conroy, Peter Cooke, Walsh and Comer were exerting considerable influence on the proceedings. 

Walsh burned O’Shea and Durcan to create Comer’s 27th minute goal, sending Galway five clear. Mayo went 22 minutes between their fourth and fifth scores of the day during an extremely flat period for Horan’s side. 

Their attack wasn’t firing, with Conroy and O’Donoghue being well tracked by Silke and Sean Kelly (before his injury enforced withdrawal) inside. Mayo carried the ball to the 45 and went sideways, which made things very difficult for their forwards. 

Walsh suffered a shoulder injury after being dumped to the ground by O’Hora who wasn’t punished for the incident. He had an injection at half-time but didn’t look the same player after the break.

Horan made a couple of half-time changes to spark Mayo back into life, introducing McLaughlin and McLoughlin fo Darren McHale and Bryan Walsh. More importantly they positioned O’Shea at full-forward and he man created Mayo’s opening goal within a minute of the restart.

aidan-oshea-with-paul-conroy Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and Paul Conroy of Galway compete for possession. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The Breaffy man gathered high ball from Conroy and fed the run of Ruane, who was fouled by Tierney. O’Donoghue dispatched the penalty and Mayo reeled off the next six points to lead by 1-12 to 2-5 after 55 minutes. 

Galway’s first score of the second period arrived with nine minutes left from a Tierney free. O’Donoghue rolled in a super goal that was disallowed by referee Conor Lane for a nudge on Jack Glynn. The decision looked to be very harsh on the Belmullet ace.

Mayo’s second goal arrived minutes later, however. Ruane burst past five or six Galway players and finished low past Connor Gleeson. Three frees from Tierney was all Galway could muster in the second-half as they Walsh was replaced in the 72nd minute. 

Rob Hennelly clipped over a 45 and James Carr had mercy on Galway with the goal at his mercy when he tapped over.

By the end it was all Mayo and they coasted home.

Scorers for Mayo: Ryan O’Donoghue 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), Matthew Ruane 1-2, Tommy Conroy 0-3, Conor Loftus 0-2, Paddy Durcan,  Kevin McLoughlin, Darren McHale and James Carr 0-1 each.

Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 1-1, Matthew Tierney 0-4 (0-3f), Damien Comer 1-0, Paul Conroy 0-2, Cathal Sweeney 0-1.


1. Rob Hennelly (Breaffy)

3. Padraig O’Hora (Ballina Stephenites),  6. Oisin Mullen (Kilmaine), 

2. Lee Keegan (Westport),

5. Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), 7. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), 4. Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber)

8. Matthew Ruane (Breaffy), 9. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina)

10. Bryan Walsh (Ballintubber), 11. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), 12. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)

13. Tommy Conroy (The Neale), 14. Darren McHale (Knockmore), 15. Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet)


18. Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport) for McHale (ht)

25. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore) for Walsh (ht)

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23. Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina) for Loftus (45 – 51, temporary sub)

22. Rory Brickenden (Westport) for O’Hora (57, inj)

26. James Carr (Ardagh) for O’Shea (68)

20. Conor O’Shea (Breaffy) for O’Connor (75)


1. Connor Gleeson

1. Connor Gleeson (Dunmore MacHales)

3. Seán Mulkerrin (Aran Islands), 4. Liam Silke (Corofin), 2. Seán Kelly (Moycullen)

7. Johnny Heaney (Killanin), 6. Dylan McHugh (Corofin), 5. Kieran Molloy (Corofin)

8. Paul Conroy (St James), 9. Matthew Tierney (Oughterard)

12. Cathal Sweeney (Salthill/Knocknacarra) , 11. Peter Cooke (Moycullen), 15. Paul Kelly (Moycullen)

14. Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin/Clonberne)

13. Robert Finnerty (Salthill/Knocknacarra), 10. Damien Comer (Annaghdown)


22. Finnian O Laoi (Spidil) for Finnerty (17, inj)

18. Jack Glynn (Claregalway)  for Sean Kelly (26, inj)

24. Michael Farragher (Corofin) for Sweeney (51)

23. Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael’s) for Paul Kelly (56)

17. Johnny Duane (St Joseph’s) for Walsh (75)

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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