Galway and Mayo will finally meet in the FBD League tomorrow night (Friday) in Castlebar at 7.30pm in a game that will be broadcast live on Galway Bay FM after last Sunday’s late postponement due to a frozen pitch. The sides last met in the final of the competition in 2010, just 2 weeks after Mayo had inflicted a comprehensive 2-14 to 1-10 defeat on Galway in the opening round of Division 1 of the National Football League, and although Mayo were victorious again, this time it was much closer.
2010 FBD League final: Mayo 0-12 Galway 0-9
In freezing conditions at Castlebar, this was never going to be a repeat performance by either side. And Galway set about by establishing a bridgehead at midfield where they had collapsed on the previous occasion, This time, Barry Cullinane and Niall Coleman held their own against Tom Parsons and Ronan McGarrity.
Mayo led up to eight minutes from the end when Gary O’Donnell, who was impressive at left half back, fired over the equaliser. It was his second point of the game and followed a spell of superiority by Galway during which they scored four unanswered points.
But the scare stirred even greater Mayo urgency and when Seamus O’Shea set up McGarrity to retake the lead, the final minutes belonged to the home side. McGarrity also had the opening score for Mayo, and Enda Varley had them two in front before Eoin Concannon grabbed Galway’s first point in the sixth minute.
With Joe Bergin lining out at full forward, the Mayo back line was fully tested, but a couple of sweeping moves up field by their wing half-backs yielded a further brace of points by Peadar Gardener and Varley.
That last point was set up by Andy Moran who warmed Mayo supporters with a man of the match performance in the freezing conditions. Playing at wing forward, the work rate of the Ballaghaderreen man had a big bearing on the outcome of the game and from him stemmed a lot of Mayo’s attacking power.
Galway’s marked improvement on their recent visit was reflected in Niall Coleman’s excellent work in the middle of the field, and when Cullinane and Concannon reduced the lead to a single point, the small attendance was treated to a lively exchange of fast, determined football.
Mayo led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the interval and went further ahead after the break with points by Moran and Varley, who availed of a shot by Aidan O’Shea that rebounded off an upright.
The burly O’Shea, whose brother lined out in the half forward line, had a rare old tussle with Finian Hanley, and once again lost that battle. The return of Diarmuid Burke strengthened the Galway defense considerably, and after Mayo wasted a few easy chances, the Tribesmen played like a side anxious to atone for their collapse on the previous occasion.
There was more urgency to their attacks and more determination. Midfielders, Cullinane and Coleman, and half backs Thomas Fahy, Blake and O’Donnell pressed forward in support of their forwards, and a 15 minute spell of serious attacking authority produced four points by Bergin, now at centre half forward, O’Donnell (2) and Cillian De Paor.
But five minutes from the end, McGarrity reignited another phase of Mayo ascendancy with a sweeping point. Three further points followed from Chris Barrett, Varley, and Seamus O’Shea and more than cancelled out Bergin’s final point for the Tribesmen, a minute before the end.
Already depleted by the absence of Michael Meehan and the Corofin contingent, Galway suffered a further blow just before the throw in when the luckless Mathew Clancy cried off with a ‘warm-up’ injury, and was replaced by Michael Martin.
While Joe Kernan will find some comfort in the performances of Eoin McDonagh, Donal O’Neill, Gary O’Donnell, Eoin Concannon and Conor Healy, all relative newcomers, he will be looking forward to the return of the more experienced players for a summer of greater promise.
Galway- Eoin O Conghaile, Donal O’Neill, Finian Hanley, Eoin McDonagh, Tomas Fahy, Diarmuid Blake, Gary O’Donnell (0-2), Barry Cullinane (0-1), Niall Coleman, Cormac Bane, Cillian de Paor (0-3 frees), Conor Healy, Eoin Concannon (0-2), Joe Bergin (0-1), Michael Martin. Sub: Damien Dunleavy for Bane
Mayo- Kenneth O’Malley; Alan Feeney, Ger Cafferkey, Donal Vaughan; Peadar Gardiner (0-1), Trevor Howley, Chris Barrett (0-1); Tom Parsons, Ronan McGarrity (0-2); Andy Moran (0-2), Barry Kelly, Seamus O’Shea (0-1); Enda Varley (0-4, 1 free), Aidan O’Shea, Michael Ronaldson (0-1). Subs: Neil Douglas for Kelly; Kevin McLoughlin for Howley; Michael Sweeney for Ronaldson.
Referee: M. Duffy (Sligo)