Mayo's All-Ireland credentials shaken as arch-rivals Galway emerge from the shadows
Galway 1-12 Mayo 0-12
Two shocks in a week, maybe this football championship is finally taking off. Fielding five rookies including the goalkeeper and two corner-backs, Galway ended Mayo's five-year unbeaten record in the Connacht championship and may have also fatally undermined their bid to secure the Sam Maguire Cup.
Not since 2008 when they beat Mayo to win their last Connacht title had Galway beaten them in the championship.
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But they competed brilliantly in Castlebar and a goal from Man of the Match Tomas Flynn in the 55th minute laid the foundation for a famous smash and grab win. Galway had lined up defensively throughout, Damien Comer and Danny Cummins were their only forwards who didn't retreat behind the ball when they lost possession.
Mayo lost midfielder Jason Gibbons with a shoulder injury at the end of the first quarter - he was replaced by Seamus O'Shea. But it was Galway who were nicking the scores with Gary Sice's second point putting them 3-1 up while Mayo were still looking for their first score from play.
Galway grew in confidence as Shane Walsh struck a sweet point before a great three-man move involving Flynn, Comer and Johnny Heavey culminated in the latter's driving shot just skimming the top of the crossbar.
Mayo finally woke up with defender Colm Boyle hitting their first point from play three minutes before the break with Tom Parsons adding a second immediately afterwards. Then O'Connor landed a monster free from the sideline to tie up the game at 0-5 each.
In the five minutes of injury-time played Mayo outscored their visitors 3-1 and also kicked their 10th wide - Galway recorded five in the first half - to lead 0-8 to 0-6 at the break.
As a result of Mayo's relentless pressure Galway began to make unenforced errors and a 49th-minute free from O'Connor gave Mayo the cushion of a four-point lead for the first time.
Galway full-back Declan Kyne was proving an inspiration and his steal deep in his own half and clearance kicked off a remarkable Galway revival which yielded 1-4 in the space of seven minutes. But it was Tomas Flynn's 55th-minute goal which was the key score.
Robert Hennelly miscued a short kick out and it was intercepted by the impressive midfielder on the right flank who raced in and picked his spot before blasting it to the net.
Paul Conroy followed it up with a monster point, Danny Cummins added another while Gary Sice converted a free to give the visitors a three points advantage with less than 10 minutes left and when O'Connor missed a free with six minutes remaining it summed up the despair in the Mayo side.
Flynn was black carded near the end but Galway survived to score one of their most famous ever wins over Mayo.
Scorers - Galway: G Sice 0-4 (3f), T Flynn 1-0, E Brannigan 0-3, P Conroy 0-2, S Walsh (f), D Cummins, J Heaney 0-1 each; Mayo: C O'Connor 0-6 (5f, 1 45), T Parsons, E Regan (f), J Doherty, S Coen, L Keegan, C Boyle 0-1 each
Mayo: R Hennelly; C Boyle, K Keane, B Harrison, S Coen, L Keegan, P Durcan; A O'Shea, J Gibbons; K McLoughlin, C O'Connor, T Parsons; E Regan, J Doherty, K Higgins. Subs: S O'Shea for Gibbons 22m; D O'Connor for Harrison 58m; D Vaughan for Keane 58m, A Moran for Regan 62m; A Freeman for Parsons 67m
Galway: B Power; D Kyne, E Kerin, D Wynne; G O'Donnell, L Silke, G Bradshaw; P Conroy, T Flynn; G Sice, S Walsh, J Heaney; E Brannigan, D Comer, D Cummins. Subs: P Sweeney for Cummins (62); A Varley for Walsh (65); S Denvir for Heaney (67); E Tierney for Flynn (71).
Referee: C Lane (Cork)
Sunday Indo Sport