Sligo's resilience pleases boss Walsh
Sligo 0-9 Galway 1-4 Cian O'Connell FBD League (SF)
On the edge of the Atlantic ocean Sligo offered another reminder of how adept they can be in a tight and tense game to secure a berth in this weekend's decider.
Galway had entered chilly Enniscrone quietly optimistic about building on their early season momentum, but by the end of this tussle they were utterly frustrated by Sligo's diligent approach.
Matches only last an hour, but, amazingly, Galway went 42 minutes without a score after they led 1-2 to 0-1. Early on the signs weren't too positive for Sligo as Danny Cummins poked home a 16th minute goal and John O'Brien was denied another by the timber. However, Kevin Walsh's charges gradually found a way back into the contest.
The manner in which Sligo responded encouraged Walsh: "I am very happy. We want to try to find a few players and the team we put out was probably forced upon us a little bit, but having said that, it is great to give players trials in different positions.
"We were limited with what we could do and when we got hit for 1-2 early on in the game the resilience was there. Where we are is hard to know, there are lots of questions left to be answered, but it is nice to get another game before we head into the National League.
"We gave away simple hand-passes and bad kicks early on and that wasn't pleasant and it is something we have to work on. I wanted to see what was in this Sligo team at this stage of the year. When you are playing colleges teams you don't know what they are at. They have their own preparations and I have no doubt that Galway came here to win."
That was certainly evident with Niall Coleman and Fiontan O Curraoin settling quickly at centrefield, enabling Peadar O Griofa to rifle over two splendid points. Cummins rattled the Sligo net, but for all of Galway's bright play, boss Alan Mulholland reckoned the Tribesmen weren't as ruthless as they should have been.
"It was disappointing because we would have liked to have played in a final ahead of the league. We didn't convert chances early on, but overall the second half performance was very disappointing."
Mulholland's assessment was fair, because by the time the interval had rolled around, Sligo had the deficit trimmed to the minimum, 1-2 to 0-4. Four further points on the spin after the restart from the excellent Brian Egan (two) and Mark Breheny (two) put Sligo 0-8 to 1-2 ahead.
Galway had wing-back Gary O'Donnell sent off for a second yellow card seven minutes from time, but they still summoned a late rally. Sean Armstrong ended a 42-minute drought when kicking a '45' and then the Salthill-Knocknacarra attacker added a free.
The visitors needed one more point to secure the draw that would have seen them into the final against Leitrim, but Sligo remained ice cool under pressure as Shane McManus kicked a beauty from distance to seal the deal.
Scorers – Sligo: M Breheny 0-4 (3f), Brian Egan 0-3, K Sweeney, S McManus 0-1 each. Galway: D Cummins 1-0, P O'Griofa 0-2, S Armstrong 0-2 ('45', 1f).
Sligo – P Greene; N Ewing, J Martyn, B Kennedy; K Cawley, M Quinn, B Curran; S Gilmartin, A McIntyre; Brendan Egan, J Clarke, S McManus; M Breheny, K Sweeney, Brian Egan. Sub: F Quinn for Sweeney (52 mins).
Galway – J Egan; C Forde, F Hanley, D O'Neill; C Costello, G Sice, G O'Donnell; F O Curraoin, N Coleman; J O'Brien, P Conroy, S Denvir; P O Griofa, S Armstrong, D Cummins. Subs: M Meehan for Cummins (42), S Walsh for Denvir (42), M Martin for Conroy (52), M Boyle for O'Brien (58).
Ref – F Flynn (Leitrim).