Mayo break Galway jinx as they prepare to visit Kingdom
Mayo 2-13 Galway 1-13
Mayo rediscovered their mojo on Saturday night to end a three-season, seven-match losing run against Galway. It was the first time they had knocked the Tribesmen out the champion since 1999.
Being Mayo, the win wasn't without a touch of drama. Despite leading on two occasions by eight points, James Horan's side still contrived to give their thousands of fans a collective fright at the death when they conceded a goal direct from Shane Walsh close-in free.
In the three successive Connacht championship ties Mayo lost to Galway since 2016 they only managed to score one goal. But by the ninth minute James Carr - who had made an impressive senior debut in the league final - had hit two, his second a contender for 'Goal of the Season.'
Apart from a 16-minute spell in the second half when they held Mayo scoreless and kicked 0-5 Galway were second best. And they didn't make the most of this period of dominance as Liam Silke's weakly struck penalty was saved at the expense of a converted '45 by Mayo keeper David Clarke in the 55th minute.
"Our aim was to win the game and get into the Super 8s. We're really happy with the start and the energy we showed throughout the whole game.
"Overall the work-rate and effort was very good and obviously we're happy to be heading down to Kerry next weekend," said Mayo boss James Horan, who maintained his proud record of having never managed a losing Mayo side against Galway in championship football.
Mayo now face Kerry (away) Meath/Clare (Croke Park) and Donegal (Castlebar) over the next four weeks in their first appearance in the Super 8s.
The future of Galway boss Kevin Walsh, who has been five seasons at the helm, is now in doubt. But Damien Comer, who was introduced at half time for his first appearance since last year's All-Ireland semi-final, launched a spirited defence of his manager.
"Kevin has given us great benefits throughout his tenure. I think it's actually pretty embarrassing the press he has got over the last few years and the criticism he has come under.
"If you seen the way Galway football was when he came and see where it is now it is great credit to the man. I don't think he is any way deserving of the harsh criticism that he has come under and it's probably lazy journalism in some ways .
"But it's very disrespect to a man who had done so much for Galway football in the past and who still continues to do so much for Galway football from the sidelines and that has gone unnoticed in the wider media and in the general public," said Comer, whose only consolation was that 'we died with our boots on.'
Walsh suggested that the game was there for winning. "You look at missing a penalty, conceding a poor goal, hitting the post and missing one or two frees and a few awful decisions which put us on the back foot as well. I know referees are under serious pressure but there is agendas probably being driven by the top, it probably puts pressure on them to make all the silly decisions," he claimed.
The Mayo improvement was particularly evident in their full-back line and in the performance of sweeper Colm Boyle. "He showed immense leadership," suggested Horan. Up front Darren Coen is becoming more influential and his 62nd minute point was arguably the key score of the second half as it halted the Galway revival.
scorers - Mayo: J Carr 2-0, C O'Connor 0-6 (5f), D Coen 0-3, K McLoughlin, S Coen, D Vaughan, J Doherty 0-1 each.
Galway: S Walsh 1-3 (1f -2f, 1 45) P Cooke 0-4, E Brannigan 0-2, C McDaid, G O'Donnell, M Daly, K Molloy 0-1 each.