Good start but Galway claw back to win final
Sligo 0-10 Galway 3-11
Sligo's dismal run in the Connacht Minor Championship continued last Sunday afternoon when Galway ran out ten-point winners to secure their third title in a row at a breezy Pearse Stadium, Salthill.
In what was the last provincial championship at the U-18 grade - it changes to U-17 from next year - Sligo put in a performance full of endeavour but were ultimately outclassed by Galway side containing a number of impressive performers, the best of which was the outstanding Evan Murphy. Goals proved to be the difference between the sides at the conclusion, but Sligo will be disappointed they didn't build on a dream start where they established a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes with the wind at their backs.
Thereafter Galway controlled proceedings with second half goals from Daniel Kenny and Padraic Costello putting an end to Sligo's challenge, and their attempts to secure a first title since 1968.
David Cummins' side kicked six first half wides and this proved costly as they needed to be in the lead at half-time, such was the significance of the breeze at the seaside ground. Their fantastic start suggested that this final may be different from a Sligo perspective - the county had lost in 12 of their previous 14 final appearances - but their early dominance subsided after the first quarter.
Conall Ryan got Sligo off the mark after only 13 seconds, and Luke Towey added a second moments later to give the visitors a dream start. The impressive Darragh Silke opened Galway's account on five minutes with a free, but Sligo responded with two further points through Red Óg Murphy and Ryan once again.
Galway were beginning to click into gear, however, and registered 1-3 over the next five minutes with three successive points followed by the crucial score of the half when Conor Campbell ran straight through the heart of the Sligo defence to score the game's first goal in the 16th minute.
To their credit, Sligo responded with the next two points through Murphy and Ryan, but Galway finished the half stronger with Evan Murphy and Silke pointing to ensure a goal separated the sides at the interval, 1-6 to 0-6. Sligo were also dealt a major blow in first-half injury-time when effective sweeper Karl McKenna was black-carded.
The second half was always going to a big ask for Sligo into the breeze, and Galway started better with the first three points of the half before Niall Colsh got Sligo on the board again with his first point after 39 minutes. This was as good as it got for Sligo in the second period however, and when substitute Daniel Kenny got on the end of Evan Murphy's mishit shot to palm to the net, Sligo were 2-9 to 0-7 in arrears after 43 minutes.
Finding it difficult to break down an unforgiving Galway defence, Sligo couldn't create a clear-cut goal opportunity at any stage throughout the hour but battled hard to remain in the game, and gained a numerical advantage when Conor Newell was red-carded in the 43rd minute.
Hopes of Sligo's resurgence ended when Padraic Costello's 48th minute goal put Galway 3-10 to 0-7 ahead, after man-of-the-match Evan Murphy created the opening. In typical fashion Sligo remained resolute and registered three late points - Red Óg Murphy, Ryan Walsh and an excellent Barry Gorman score completing Sligo's scoring exploits - but unfortunately it was a case of another final disappointment as Sligo now look forward to an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with the winner of the Ulster final between Derry and Cavan.
Sligo: A Davey; E Lyons, J Ellis, B Tuohy; B Cox, E Lavin, O Conlon; N Colsh (0-1), B Gorman (0-1); R Anderson L Towey (0-1), C O'Dowd; C Ryan (0-3), R Óg Murphy(0-3, 2fs), K McKenna. Subs used: M Cahill for O'Dowd (29), J Stephenson for McKenna (32, BC), J Weir for Tuohy (46), R Walsh (0-1) for Anderson (49), J McMunn for Lavin (57), O Grehan for Colsh (63).
Galway: O Burke; E McFadden, S Mulkerrin, G Burke; J Glynn, S Fitzgerald, L Boyle (0-1); M Barrett (0-2), E Murphy (0-1); B Harlowe, D Silke (0-4, 3fs), M Kerrigan (0-1); C Newell, P Costello (1-1), C Campbell (1-0). Subs used: D Kenny (1-0) for Harlowe (HT), L Costello for Kerrigan (50), R Cunningham (0-1) for P Costello (51), C Potter for Boyle (53), J Kyne for Burke (60).
Referee: L Devenney (Mayo).