Galway 2-13 Mayo 1-10
Last year’s minor captain Dessie Conneely scored a crucial goal as Galway eased past Mayo to knock the reigning All-Ireland U-21 champions out of the Connacht championship at Tuam.
The hosts responded better to the brilliant atmosphere created by the bumper crowd, and goals from Conneely and Eoin Finnerty secured the win.
Mayo’s goal came via Brian Reape, who hit 1-6, but they had James Kelly sent-off late on.
Between 2002 and 2006 Galway and Mayo met in five straight Connacht finals, and they haven’t played each other in an U-21 final since, but Galway will face Sligo in next week’s decider.
Mayo have won 24 titles and beat Roscommon by a point in last year’s decider, but they were slow to get going against Galway. Peter Cooke and Reape swapped points early on but Galway went 0-5 to 0-1 up when Cillian McDaid scored in the 12th minute.
And then when Paul Mannion hit his third point nine minutes before half-time Galway were six clear, but Mayo got the goal when they needed it.
James Carr and Ryan O’Donoghue combined for Reape to rattle the net and bring Mayo right back into the game.
They only trailed 0-10 to 1-5 at half-time but were hit with a sucker-punch, when Michael Daly gave the assist and Conneely scored a goal in the 36th minute with Eoin Finnerty sealing it 11 minutes from the end.
Scorers – Galway: P Mannion 0-4, D Conneely 1-0, E Finnerty 1-0, P Cooke 0-3 (0-2f, 0-1 45), R Finnerty 0-2 (0-1f), M Daly 0-2, C McDaid 0-1, C Brady 0-1.
Mayo: B Reape 1-6 (0-5f), M Flanagan 0-1 (0-1 45), M Murray 0-1, J Lyons 0-1, M Ruane 0-1.
Galway – R O Beolain; L Kelly, S A O Ceallaigh, R Greene; K Molloy, D McHugh, C McDaid; P Cooke, M Daly; A O Laoi, C Brennan, C Brady; R Finnerty, P Mannion, D Conneely.
Subs: S Kelly for McDaid (40), E Finnerty for Brady (48), C D’Arcy for C Brennan (52), E Lee for McHugh (62), C Mannion for O Laoi (66), M Boyle for Conneely (67).
Mayo – M Flanagan; M Park, S Conlon, S Brennan; S Akram, E O’Donoghue, D Cannon; M Ruane, M Murray; F McDonagh, R O’Donoghue, J Kelly; J Carr, B Reape, J Lyons.
Subs: J McCormack for McDonagh (48), J Forkan for E O’Donoghue (50), TJ Byrne for R O’Donoghue (55), G Canavan for Cannon (58), J Flynn for Murray (66).
Ref – John Gilmartin (Sligo).
Dublin have the chance to beat Kerry's longstanding 34 game unbeaten record in the league and championship should they defeat Roscommon this evening in Croke Park. Join Conor Neville for all of tonight's coverage.
When a Dublin football team, taken almost exclusively from players outside of their all-conquering 2016 squad and current U-21s, turned Kildare over to reach an O'Byrne Cup semi-final in Newbridge, it was considered further evidence, not that any more was required, of the declining standards of Leinster football.