Mayo comeback falls short as Galway record another win over Connacht rivals
Mayo 0-12 Galway 1-11
The change in the balance of power in Connacht football was again illustrated in a windy Castlebar when Galway beat Mayo for the seventh time in the last four years.
Leading 1-7 to 0-3 at the break, Galway withstood a spirited Mayo comeback which saw them kick six points in a row to narrow the gap to a single point.
But then poor discipline saw Mayo gave away three late fress which Shane Walsh converted to give the visitors two crucial points.
It was a sobering evening for the Mayo fans among the 10,675 in attendance and particularly so for their manager James Horan, who during his previous tenure as team boss never lost to Galway in championship football.
Galway are now level with Mayo in second place on six points in the Division 1 league table where they will be joined by Dublin if they beat Roscommon tomorrow.
When Mayo travel to Kerry in two weeks' time they will be bidding to avoid their third defeat on the spin while Galway have Roscommon at home.
Galway made four late changes – the most significant of which saw Shane Walsh start at full forward. Mayo reacted by moving Lee Keegan on the edge of the square but backed by a gale, Galway completely dominated the early exchanges.
David Clarke's first five kick-outs were all secured by Galway, who pushed up on the home side, forcing the keeper to go long. Points from Danny Cummins, Antaine O Laoi, Johnny Heaney and Michael Daly gave the visitors a deserved 0-4 to 0-1 advantage after ten minutes.
Mayo were totally reliant on Jason Doherty frees for scores, though they appeared to be gifted a life-line when Michael Daly and Barry McHugh were black-carded within 90 seconds of each other midway through the half.
The home side momentarily dictated the exchanges and it took a brilliant goal line clearance from Galway's Tom Flynn to deny Colm Boyle a goal in the 18th minute.
But despite their numerical disadvantage it was the visitors who kicked on with Danny Cummins bringing his tally to 1-2 after he palmed Johnny Heaney's cross to the net while Walsh scored a wonderful long range point.
Doherty did have a goal chance at the other end in the 28th minute but Galway keeper Ruairi Lavelle saved brilliantly. Mayo's finishing was very sloppy, as they kicked five first half wides and failed to score from play against Galway's blanket defence.
Galway extended their lead to seven points on the stroke of half time when O'Laoi kicked his second point to leave the visiting team 1-7 to 0-3 ahead at the break but facing the strengthening gale in the second period.
Mayo finally had their first point from play after 37 minutes when midfielder Matthew Ruane pointed after Aidan O'Shea created the chance but a Shane Walsh free cancelled out that effort.
Galway were content to play keep ball in the middle third of the field before Mayo finally found some rhythm hitting two in a row for the first time through Doherty (free) and Darren Coen before Fionn McDonagh was short with a straightforward free from the right flank.
The Mayo comeback continued though, with their best move of the match involving Keith Higgins, O'Shea and Doherty, who fisted over to make it a three point game with 20 minutes to go.
The under pressure Galway defence was now coughing up more frees and Doherty added his fifth before substitute Andy Moran converted a mark to leave it a one point game in the 55th minute. Crucially they missed two chances to equalise and halted their momentum.
The next seven minutes were scoreless before Michael Daly won a crucial free off Colm Boyle which Walsh nailed in the 64th minute and it took a timely advance from goalkeeper David Clarke to deny Daly a minute later.
But it was advantage Galway and Boyle gave away another crucial free, hauling down Shane Walsh who punished the indiscretion by knocking over the resultant free as the game ticked into the allocated six minutes of injury time. Walsh kicked another free and although Mayo hit two late points from play via Diarmuid O'Connor and Donal Vaughan, it was too little to late the save them.
Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, L Keegan, B Harrison, S Coen, C Boyle, K Higgins; M Ruane (0-1), D Vaughan (0-1); F McDonagh, A O'Shea, D O'Connor (0-1); J Durcan, D Coen (0-1), J Doherty (0-7, 5f). Subs: K McLoughlin for Durcan ht; A Moran (0-1, 1m) for Coen 47m; B Reape for McDonagh 67m
Galway: R Lavelle; D Wynne, SA O Ceallaigh, E Kerin, G O'Donnell, J Daly, J Heaney (0-1); T Flynn, C Duggan; A Ó Laoí (0-2), M Daly (0-1), P Cooke; B McHugh, S Walsh (0-5, 4f), D Cummins (1-2, 1m) Subs: G Bradshaw for Flynn ht; F O Laoi for McHugh ht; E Brannigan for Cummins 53m; P Cunningham for A O Laoi 70 +1
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)