Thursday 20 July 2017

McGee point stuns Galway

Sligo 1-14 Galway 0-16

Sligo players Mark Breheny and Gary Gaughan celebrate their dramatic 1-14 to 0-16 victory over Galway last night in the Connacht SFC semi-final replay at Markievicz Park. Photo: Ray Ryan
Sligo players Mark Breheny and Gary Gaughan celebrate their dramatic 1-14 to 0-16 victory over Galway last night in the Connacht SFC semi-final replay at Markievicz Park. Photo: Ray Ryan

JOHN FALLON

Sligo are poised for only their fourth ever Connacht title -- and their hardest ever won -- after displaying enormous character to come from behind in a thrilling semi-final replay at Markievicz Park last night.

Sligo, having spurned a five-point lead in stoppage- time in the drawn match, seemed destined for the qualifiers when Galway pulled two points ahead going into injury-time last night.

But then Kevin Walsh's men dug deep and hit three points without reply to send the crowd of 12,045 into raptures and Sligo into a final meeting with Roscommon.

It will be the first Connacht final in 63 years without Galway or Mayo and Sligo will go into the decider as favourites for the first time.

Sub Colm McGee was the hero as he landed a magnificent winner deep into stoppage-time after Kenneth Sweeney and Mark Breheny had hauled them level.

Galway looked to have done enough but now Joe Kernan's first season in charge will hinge on a qualifier against Wexford in Pearse Stadium next Saturday.

The tempo of the game was high from the outset and the sides were deadlocked at 0-3 each after just seven minutes.

The loss of Tony Taylor through a knee injury proved to be huge for Sligo, who did not get the midfield dominance they enjoyed in the drawn match, with Joe Bergin prominent for the Tribesmen.

Sligo just could not get ball into dangerman David Kelly and, remarkably, 26 minutes elapsed before last Sunday's man of the match got his hands on the ball. By then Galway had responded to another Marren point by hitting four without reply as the evergreen Padraic Joyce hit one from play and a free while Sean Armstrong and Gareth Bradshaw also found their range to lead by 0-7 to 0-4 after 23 minutes.

Michael Meehan, who was forced to go off just after half-time after picking up an ankle injury before the break, extended the lead six minutes later with a point from a '45 and the game was in danger of slipping away from Sligo.

But Mark Breheny hit a crucial score -- their first in 19 minutes -- and then Kelly landed a trademark effort from the right to leave it 0-8 to 0-6 at the break.

Bergin pointed after the restart but then a misplaced sideline from Bradshaw gifted a goal chance to Kelly and he made no mistake as he calmly drove the ball low into the net. The Galway response was admirable as Armstrong pointed two frees and Gary O'Donnell went forward from the half-back line to make it 0-12 to 1-6 after 41 minutes.

Breheny pulled back a free for Sligo and then Kelly almost grabbed his second goal but his shot, after gathering a breaking ball, rose and flew over the bar to leave just the minimum between them.

Joyce and Marren swapped frees to leave it 0-13 to 1-9 after 52 minutes, before Breheny levelled the match with 15 minutes remaining with another free.

Both sides had chances to go ahead but it was Joyce who burst through to edge Galway in front before he set Armstrong up to push the Tribesmen two in front. But then Sligo came with their superb late finale to set up a Connacht final date with Roscommon next Sunday week.

And Walsh's side will go into that final as red-hot favourites as they bid for only their fourth title and second in four years. Who knows where this dream might end?.

Scorers -- Sligo: D Kelly 1-2, M Breheny 0-4 (2f), A Marren 0-3 (1f), C McGee 0-2, K Cawley, A Costello, K Sweeney 0-1 each. Galway: P Joyce 0-5 (3f) S Armstrong 0-4 (2f), G O'Donnell, J Bergin, M Clancy, M Meehan (0-1 '45'), E Concannon, P Conroy, N Coleman 0-1 each

Sligo: P Greene; C Harrison, N McGuire, R Donavan; K Cawley, B Phillips, J Davey; E Mullen, S Gilmartin; E O'Hara, M Breheny, A Costello; S Coen, A Marren, D Kelly. Subs: C McGee for Coen (55), S Davey for Costello (60), K Sweeney for O'Hara (66), F Quinn for Marren (70)

Galway: A Faherty; A Burke, F Hanley, K Fitzgerald; G Bradshaw, D Blake, G O'Donnell; J Bergin, N Coleman; G Sice, S Armstrong, M Clancy; M Meehan, P Joyce, E Concannon. Subs: P Conroy for Meehan (36), D Reilly for Hanley (47)

Referee: M Deegan (Laois)

Sunday Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport