Galway hold on for victory despite huge Leitrim revival
Galway 4-10 Leitrim 2-12
Galway will face reigning All-Ireland champions Mayo in the Eirgrid Connacht U-21 FC semi-final after they staved off a miraculous comeback from Leitrim in beautiful conditions at Tuam Stadium on Saturday.
But manager Gerry Fahy said they will need to improve as Galway, who led by 4-8 to 0-2 at the break thanks to goals from Rob Finnerty, Dessie Conneely, Eoin Finnerty and Cillian McDaid, had to wtihstand a spirited Leitrim comeback.
"We wouldn't be pleased with how we played obviously in the second-half, but you have to give tremendous credit to Leitrim for that," said Fahy.
Galway had Kieran Molloy sent off after half-time and then Dean McGovern and Keith Beirne scored goals as Leitrim hit 2-8 without reply before Keith Keegan's second yellow card cost them dearly as the comeback fell short.
It only took Galway seven minutes to hit their first goal when Rob Finnerty, son of former Mayo star Anthony, fisted to the net after good work by Colin Brady.
A second of last year's Galway minor side, Conneely, struck the second for Galway in the 13th minute, and when Eoin Finnerty and Galway senior McDaid also struck before the break, it looked like the end for Leitrim.
Impressively, 14 of those Leitrim points were ticked off without response as Galway reeled after Molloy's red card.
But that lead was never likely to be fully obliterated as the Tribesmen closed out the win.
Scorers - Galway: R Finnerty & D Conneely 1-2 each, E Finnerty & C McDaid 1-0 each, P Mannion 0-3, M Daly (0-1 sl), C Brady & P Cooke 0-1 each. Leitrim: K Beirne 1-4 (4f), D McGovern 1-0, P Dolan & M Plunkett 0-2 each, R O'Rourke, R Cunningham, J Heslin & C Cullen 0-1 each.
Galway - R O Beolain; L Kelly, D McHugh, R Greene; S Ó Ceallaigh, S A Ó Ceallaigh, K Molloy; P Cooke, M Daly; C McDaid, C Brady, P Mannion; R Finnerty, E Finnerty, D Conneely. Subs: C Tarpey for S Ó Ceallaigh (28), C Brennan for Cooke (43), C D'Arcy for E Finnerty (45), A O Laoi for Tarpey (50), M Boyle for R Finnerty (57), C Mannion for McDaid (62).
Leitrim - J Burke; J Mitchell, B Leyden, L Ryan; D Feely, D McGovern, O Madden; K Keegan, M Plunkett; J Heslin, R O'Rourke, C Dolan; R Cunningham, K Beirne, C Gaffney. Subs: C Cullen for O'Rourke (7), P Dolan for Feely (20), N McGovern for C Dolan (28).
Ref - Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).