Finnerty-Conneely double act helps fire Galway into decider
Galway 2-12 Donegal 1-11
In the end, Galway were sweating harder than they should have been.
Deep in injury time, Donegal poured forward in search of the goal that would bring them to within a point of Galway. First Odhran McFadden-Ferry saw his attempt batted away. After a scramble, possession eventually fell to Gary Molloy. His shot was good and only a smart fingertip save from Cormac Haslam prevented a late goal and what would have been a nervous finish for Galway.
They should have been a little more comfortable than that. Galway had the edge for most of the afternoon but could never quite put a game Donegal away. They were three points up at half-time (1-6 to 0-6) and at one stage in the second half they led by six. But Donegal wouldn't go away, no matter how many times Galway brought them to the brink.
Galway made a bright start and had a goal on the board inside five minutes and it was the first sign of the potential that lurked in their full-forward line. Robert Finnerty picked up a break off Desmond Conneely and the son of former Mayo star Anthony finished well to get the Connacht side up and running.
That pair would have a profound influence on the game and finish the day with 2-7 between them.
Donegal remained within touching distance at half-time and on the restart, things picked up from where they had left off. Fionnan Garvey landed a nice point but Galway created another goal chance that Finian O Laoi spurned. Almost immediately afterwards Donegal had a chance to raise a green flag of their own but Niall O'Donnell's effort was well saved by Haslam.
At times it looked like Galway would put the game beyond doubt but Donegal had some excellent performances with Aaron Deeney and Mark Curran refusing to budge. And they helped ensure that they remained within touching distance going into the home straight.
But Galway delivered a body blow on 51 minutes. Finnerty slipped the attention of Aaron McCrea underneath the Hogan Stand and from there, Galway made no mistake. Finnerty fed Murphy who in turn found captain Connelly who notched the Tribe's second goal.
Donegal would come again and cut the gap to four but the goal they needed wouldn't come. Galway had done enough. Just about.
"We had a number of chances, in fact goal chances, when we should have tapped them over the bar to make it more comfortable," Galway manager Stephen Joyce admitted afterwards. "We did make it hard on ourselves towards the end by not taking those chances but that's something to work on. You always need something to work on going forward."
For Donegal manager Shaun Paul Barrett, his side didn't deliver their best performance.
"We conceded a couple of goals there and we are very disappointed in that and we didn't create enough chances going forward. We weren't driving through and we didn't penetrate enough. I think we underperformed today and we are disappointed in that.
"We have a group of 32 or 33 young men in there who are absolutely heartbroken. They put in a huge amount of effort and there is a great bond between them. But today just wasn't our day."
SCORERS - Galway: R Finnerty 1-5 (4f), D Conneely 1-2 (2f), E Murphy 0-2 (1f), B Goldrick, F Garvey, R Murphy 0-1 each.
Donegal: N O'Donnell 0-4 (1f), E McCormick 1-0, P Mogan (2f), J McGee (1 '45) 0-2 each, JD Boyle, E McGettigan, G Molloy 0-1 each.
Galway - C Haslam; C D'arcy, S Mulkerrin, E McFadden; A Quirke, E McDonagh; F Garvey; S Raftery, J Maher; F O Laoi, E Murphy, R Forde; R Finnerty, D Connelly, B Goldrick. Subs: R Murphy for Maher (54).
Donegal - G Mulreany; S Ferry, A McCrea, M Curran; A Deeney, JD Boyle, A McLaughlin; J McGee, K Gallagher; N Boyle, N O'Donnell, E McCormick; P Mogan, E McGettigan, O McFadden-Ferry. Subs: O Sheils for McLaughlin (25), S McGrath for N Boyle (39), B O'Donnell for Ferry (40 BC), G Molloy for JD Boyle (45), D Lyons for McCrea (53).
REF - J Hickey (Carlow).
All-Ireland MFC semi-final