Galway minors qualified for the Connacht Minor Final on Sunday week against Sligo after a hard fought 1-13 to 1-6 victory over a tough Roscommon team in a damp Salthill on Wednesday evening. The Tribesmen produced a scintillating last ten minutes, kicking 1-5 to see off the Roscommon challenge. At that point Roscommon were a point up before quick points from Padraic Costello and the classy Darragh Silke handed Galway back the advantage, which they never relinquished.
The first half of the game was littered with errors as both sides struggled to come to terms with the slippery conditions, with nerves very evident on both sides. Midfielder Cian Corcoran was winning lots of primary possession for the Rossies, and at the other end dynamic wing back Liam Boyle was surging forward at every opportunity, creating chances for others and kicking a fine point himself. Galway captain and Seán Mulkerrin and Roscommon’s Brian Derwin were having a great battle infront of Oran Burke’s goals, and in the 24th minute Derwin escaped the clutches of the Aran Islands man to rattle to the net after good work by Cathal Heneghan in along the end line. Busy wing forward Brian Harlowe got his second point in the 31st minute to leave the scores level at the break, 1-2 to 0-5.
The second period began in similar fashion to the first, with both teams struggling to maintain possession, in the most part due to the exemplary quality of tackling by both sides. It wasn’t until Evan Murphy kicked a 45 in the 41st minute that the first score of the second half came, with Derwin responding at the other end for Roscommon with a fine score off his weaker left foot. When tricky corner forward Ronan Dowd and wing forward Shea Henry fired over two rapid points within 30 seconds of each other to put the Rossies a point up with ten minutes to go, it looked as if the upset was on. Unfortunately for them they were to be their last scores of the game as the Galway men surged and completely took over the game towards the closing stages. Points from sub Conor Campbell and two more from man of the match Boyle put them three clear, before Conor Newell (also on as a sub) put the final nail in the Roscommon coffin by capitalising on a mix up in the defence and goaling for Galway, leaving them 6 up with just 3 minutes of normal time to play. However, there was still time for one more major piece of drama as Galway goalie Burke tipped Derwin’s penalty in stoppage time around the post with a spectacular save to deny Roscommon a late life line. Corner back Eoin McFadden then burst up field to kick a fine point and seal the victory for Galway, who now look forward to the Connacht Final on the 9th of July looking for their third minor provincial title in a row.
Meanwhile in Markievicz Park, Sligo and Leitrim played out a classic containing six goals in the other semi-final, with the Yeats County men eventually advancing after edging out a strong Leitrim outfit.
Leitrim led by 1-3 to 0-3 at the break thanks to dangerous corner forward Jordan Reynolds goal towards the end of the half. The second half saw Evan Lavin the Sligo centre back give a massive performance to drive his team to victory with Red Óg Murphy, Evan Lavin and Ryan Walsh all goaling for them in that period. Leitrim fought until the end and two second half goals from Oisín McLoughlin had them in the hunt right up to the final whistle. Sligo were just too strong and inspired by some great forward play by Conall Ryan held on for a great victory to set up the decider with Galway.
Galway: Oran Burke; Eoin McFadden (0-1), Sean Mulkerrin (c), Gavin Burke; Jack Glynn, Ciaran Potter, Liam Boyle (0-3); Matthias Barrett (0-1), Sean Fitzgerald; Brian Harlowe (0-2), Darragh Silke (0-2), Martin Kerrigan; Rory Cunningham, Evan Murphy (0-1 f), Padraic Costello (0-2, 0-1 f). Subs: Conor Campbell (0-1) for Potter (41), Conor Newell (1-0) for Cunningham (49), Matthew Tierney for Silke (59), Conor Walsh for Murphy (62).
Roscommon: Aaron Brady; Pauric Halpin, Evan Flynn, Gerry Galvin; Donnacha Gately, Dylan Ruane, Paul McManus; Cian Corcoran, Conall Kennelly; Oisin Lennon, Cathal Heneghan, Shay Henry (0-1); Ronan Dowd (0-2), Brian Derwin (1-3, 0-2f), Callum Fahey (c). Subs: Paul Carey for Fahey (41), Sean Hanley for Lennon (53), John Martin for Ruane (56), Michael Conroy for Halpin (58 black card), Andrew Lyons for Carey (60)