Hennelly's heroics thwart NUIG to spare Mayo blushes
Mayo 1-13 NUI Galway 1-11
With just three of the starting team that crashed to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final replay, Mayo got their year off to a shaky but winning start under the new management team of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly at McHale Park yesterday.
NUIG battled gamely and could well have snatched it in five minutes of extra-time but goalkeeper Robert Hennelly was equal to the effort of their top scorer Peadar O Griofa with a superb point-blank save.
The students, who trailed by four points at one stage, led by 1-7 to 0-8 at the interval thanks to a fine goal from O Griofa just before half-time, the Galway corner-forward finishing the half with 1-4 to his credit.
Neil Douglas was the standout forward for Mayo in the opening period, with three points from play.
However, the game turned early in the second half when Douglas, substitute Alan Freeman - who came on for the black-carded Jason Doherty - and Evan Regan combined to set up Mark Ronaldson, who squeezed the ball over the line.
With ten minutes remaining the sides were level at 1-9 apiece but the inspirational Chris Barrett, Douglas and Regan with a free, saw Mayo kick three in front.
They then withstood that late pressure from NUIG, which was rewarded with two more O Griofa points to leave just one between the sides in injury-time before a late Adam Gallagher free just about got Mayo over the line.
SCORERS - Mayo: M Ronaldson 1-1, N Douglas 0-4, E Regan 0-3fs, D McHugh, C Barrett, J Doherty, A Gallagher (f) and M Conroy 0-1 each. NUIG: P O Griofa 1-7 (0-7fs), S Moran, C Davey, D Comer and K Gibbons (f) 0-1 each.
MAYO - R Hennelly; D McHugh, G Cafferkey, S Coen; C Barrett, C Crowe, K Keane ; J Gibbons, A Corduff; N Douglas, A Gallagher, M Conroy; E Regan, J Doherty, M Ronaldson. Subs: A Freeman for J Doherty (BC ht), K Rogers for Cafferkey (ht), M Sweeney for M Conroy (ht), B Moran for Corduff (45), G Cafferkey for Douglas (inj 51)
NUIG - D O'Sullivan; D Murray, K McDonald, L Cullen; R Kiely, D Cunnane, A Nolan; E O hEochaidh, S Moran; C Connolly, C Davey, D Comer; P O Griofa, S Conroy, K Gibbons. Subs: F Reilly for Nolan (10), J McManus for Nolan (ht), J Kennedy for Conroy (ht), N Lee for O hEochaidh (40), B Walsh for Murray (43), N Hickey for Gibbons (58).
REF - R McBrien (Leitrim).