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Thrills and spills in Connacht

CONNACHT counties may not have done very well in the All-Ireland series in recent years, but the province continues to produce by far the most closely contested finals, writes Martin Breheny.

Remarkably, the last five finals have all been won by one-point margins, a sequence which never happened before in any province.

Indeed, it's unusual to have two successive finals won by a single point, let alone five.

The 2008 and 2009 finals delivered identical scorelines between Galway and Mayo, albeit with different winners. Galway won by 2-12 to 1-14 in Castlebar in 2008, while Mayo triumphed on exactly the same scoreline in Pearse Stadium a year later.

Ironically, the last one-sided final was in 2004 when next Sunday's opponents clashed in Castlebar where Mayo beat Roscommon by 2-13 to 0-9.

A year later Galway beat Mayo by two points and that has been followed by five successive one-point victories as follows:

2006: Mayo 0-12 Galway 1-8

2007: Sligo 1-10 Galway 0-12

2008: Galway 2-12 Mayo 1-14

2009: Mayo 2-12 Galway 1-14

2010: Roscommon 0-14 Sligo 0-13

The narrow wins pleased the winners, but not the Connacht Council's financial gurus who have been left cursing their luck at not gaining even one replay windfall from five extremely close calls. The last replayed Connacht final was in 1998 when Galway beat Roscommon.

"It's amazing that we have had five one-point finals in a row. It shows just how competitive our finals are and the entertainment levels they provide. I have to admit, though, that it would have been good for business if even one of them finished level," said Connacht Council secretary, John Prenty.

It remains to be seen if Roscommon and Mayo will maintain the tight finish sequence, but, there are grounds for optimism as their last Connacht final clash in Dr Hyde Park produced a one-point win for Roscommon in 2001.

Irish Independent