Thursday 23 January 2020

Gleeson's heroics see Mayo pay the penalty

Galway 1-17 Mayo 1-17

Mayo’s Brian Walsh hits the final penalty of the shoot-out off the crossbar in Conor Gleeson’s goal to ensure a Galway win. Sportsfile
Mayo’s Brian Walsh hits the final penalty of the shoot-out off the crossbar in Conor Gleeson’s goal to ensure a Galway win. Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Early-season fare yes but Mayo and Galway did what they usually do and emptied the chamber into one another. And like when the sides met in this competition last year, they needed penalties to separate them.

In the end, the width of a crossbar decided it. Brian Walsh had to score Mayo's fifth penalty to send the shoot-out to sudden death but he slammed it off the bar.

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It was a finish to the afternoon he didn't deserve. Walsh was Mayo's only full debutant but played with distinction, landing 0-3 from play.

It was a peculiar outing from start to finish. This game was a season-opener for both teams and as such, both James Horan and Joyce were without a raft of first team players. Simultaneously, both men are just a fortnight from their league openers.

There were bright spots for both men. Galway started best against the wind and were 0-4 to 0-1 up after eight minutes. By the time the interval arrived, Mayo led by one (0-9 to 0-8) in front of the 7,000 or so present in MacHale Park.

Shane Walsh was brilliant throughout for Galway, kicking frees from both feet. And he landed the first two points of the second half to hand his side the lead. However, when former AFL man Cillian McDaid picked up the game's only black card, it looked to be decisive.

Fiontán Ó Curraoin of Galway is treated for an injury before being taken off the field on a medical buggy as Galway manager Pádraic Joyce (R) looks on. Photo: Sportsfile
Fiontán Ó Curraoin of Galway is treated for an injury before being taken off the field on a medical buggy as Galway manager Pádraic Joyce (R) looks on. Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo outscored Galway by 1-2 to 0-1 while McDaid was off the pitch and Galway down to 14. That scoring burst came after a long delay when Fiontán Ó Curraoin was being tended too on the pitch, which saw the game delayed by well over 10 minutes.

That delay saw the bizarre situation whereby after 36 minutes of the second half, Brian Reape's fifth point from play put Mayo six up. However, there were still at least 11 minutes to play. Galway made good use of the time and outscored Mayo 1-4 to 0-1 from there until the final whistle.

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Adrian Varley grabbed the goal which came after he latched on to a rebound following a good save from Rob Hennelly. Walsh brought his tally to 0-9 for the day but Mayo still led by a point when the allotted added time have been played.

However, Galway kept trying and managed to secure a break-out point from debutant and sub Liam Costello to force the game to extra-time. Amazingly, Costello's point came in the 49th minute of the second half.

Tom Parsons on his return to Mayo action after over 18-months out with injury. Photo: Sportsfile
Tom Parsons on his return to Mayo action after over 18-months out with injury. Photo: Sportsfile

Even the penalty shootout wasn't straightforward. The teams were tied at 2-2 after three penalties each.

Subsequently, Varley hit the post for Galway before Conor Gleeson saved from Gary Boylan. Referee Patrick Guckian ordered the penalty to be retaken and while Boylan went to the other side, Gleeson saved again.

Effort

And after Tom Flynn buried his penalty it was down Brian Walsh, who saw his well-hit effort strike the bar.

And even though it handed him a debut win as Galway boss, Joyce isn't a fan of settling games by penalties.

"It was a draw game really and it is an unfortunate way to decide a game but that is just the way it is," said Joyce, whose side now face Roscommon in the FBD League final on Saturday afternoon, which was fixed to avoid a clash with Corofin's participation in the All-Ireland club SFC final in Croke Park next Sunday.

"The rules are the rules and we scored one extra so we will take it. It is unfair on the players stepping up and it is tough on the Mayo players and in my eyes that is for a different sport and not our sport.

"Overall, the most pleasing aspect we were six points down and looked dead and buried. In fairness, the lads stuck at it, Gary O'Donnell won a great ball and we were able to work it down the field for Liam Costello to get the equaliser. In fairness, they worked hard.

"Over the years, Galway would be seen as a team who would have a soft belly so they showed they had good fight and good character in them which was pleasing."

Afterwards Mayo's James Horan had already turned his attention to their league opener with Donegal on Saturday week.

"Today for us was a chance for some guys who have been knocking around for a while and for some new guys to play an inter-county game. Some of them did very well so we are excited about that.

"We have guys coming back and quite a few injuries, not serious injuries just guys trying to get right. That will come together very quickly, we are going up to Donegal. It is going to be a brilliant game for us. It will be an exciting one. We had a clash last year and we are looking forward to going up there for a good game."

SCORERS - Mayo: B Reape 0-5; K McLoughlin 1-2; B Walsh 0-3; C Loftus (2f), J Flynn, F Boland 0-2 each; T Parsons 0-1. Galway: S Walsh 0-9 (6f); A Varley 1-3; M Daly 0-2; M Boyle, P Conroy, L Costello 0-1.

Mayo - R Hennelly; J Stretton, J McCormack, B Harrison; P O'Hora, M Plunkett, P Durcan; T Parsons, M Murray; B Walsh, C Loftus, J Flynn; K McLoughlin, B Reape, D O'Connor. Subs: F Boland for Loftus (57), C Boyle for Stratton (60), G Boylan for O'Connor (70+2), L Irwin for Reape (70+9), D Kenny for J McCormack (70+12).

Galway - C Gleeson; C Murray, G O'Donnell, J Heaney; E Brannigan, J Daly, C McDaid; P Conroy F Ó Curraoin; P Kelly, T Flynn, M Boyle; M Daly, A Varley, S Walsh. Subs: J Duane for Heaney (22 inj), M Barrett for Ó Curraoin (39), L Costello for Kelly (55), D Comer for M Daly (70), S Kelly for Brannigan (70+5).

Ref - P Guckian (Leitrim)

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