Galway advanced to the final of the Connacht U17 Championship against either Leitrim or Roscommon after overcoming Mayo 2-7 to 0-5 in terrible conditions in Salthill on Sunday. In fairness to both teams, the swirling wind and driving rain made football almost impossible, but neither lacked for endeavour and this Galway team has some quality forwards, with Matthew Tierney and the mercurial Oisín McDonagh in particular catching the eye.
Both teams struggled massively to come to terms with the elements in the early stages, with Leo Howard playing an effective role as the sweeper and Jack Higgins excelling for Mayo, as he did throughout. Mayo played into the gale in the first period, and led two points to nil through two frees from captain Pat Lambert before Galway finally got off the mark with two rapid points in the 21st minute from Tierney and McDonagh. The half time score was 0-4 to 0-3, the game delicately poised and Galway looking like they were up against it facing into the wind for the second half.
However, goals win games and the second half was barely a minute old when wing forward Aidan Halloran ghosted into space infront of Jamie McNicholas’ goal and was expertly found by McDonagh before coolly slotting the ball under the advancing goalie. McDonagh then goaled himself in the 16th minute of the second half after a clever Keelan Craven pass to make the score 2-5 to 0-4 and Mayo with a mountain to climb. Try as they did the Mayo men just couldn’t convert the chances they created and when Joe Gubbins made a super save from corner forward Paul Towey with ten minutes to go, you sensed that it was going to be Galway’s day. McDonagh sealed the Tribesmen’s victory with an outrageous curling score off his left foot from the left wing into the wind after jinking past two defenders in injury time, setting up a showdown for Galway on Connacht final day with Leitrim or Roscommon on the 9th of July.
Mayo: J McNicholas; J Coyne, B McLeod, J Higgins; L Howard, R Brickenden, A McDonnell; P Golderick, J Gallagher (0-1); P Lambert (0-3fs), E Rowley, L Burke; J Jennings (0-1f), T Morris, P Towey Subs: M Moran for Rowley (37 mins), C Golden for Goldrick (42 mins), K Callaghan for Morris (47 mins), C Gavin for Burke and A McHale for Gallagher (53 mins)
Galway: J Gubbins; C O’Neill, S Fitzgerald, T Considine; C Monahan (0-1), J Glynn, M Boyle; C Walsh, J Keady; O Moran, M Tierney (0-2), A Halloran (1-0); K Craven, O McDonagh (1-3), B Harlow (0-1) Subs: O Gormally for Craven (55 mins) P Kelly for Keady (58 mins) J Kirrane for O’Neill (60 mins)