Ultimately a gripping Connacht Under 21 Football Final was decided by Galway’s dynamism and depth.
Sligo contributed richly to a thrilling encounter, but Galway had sufficient stamina to pull clear in extra-time when the issue was delicately poised.
The underdogs snapped into the contest accumulating an eight point advantage in the first half with Galway in severe distress.
Alan McLoughlin’s 25th minute goal was quickly followed by a Kyle Cawley point which gave Sligo what seemed to be a commanding 1-7 to 0-2 cushion.
By the time the interval rolled around Galway had the margin cut to 1-7 to 0-5 as Peter Cooke, Colin Brady, and Robert Finnerty registered points.
Galway manager Gerry Fahy made some brave substitutions which proved critical as maroon replacements scored 2-5.
A blistering burst for 20 minutes after half-time saw Galway power four points ahead with Cein D’arcy influential when introduced at centrefield.
D’arcy rifled over a point within seconds of the restart, while Michael Daly added a goal, and Sean Kelly struck the leveller.
Despite playing into the teeth of the wind Sligo reeled off three points on the spin courtesy of Paddy O’Connor (2) and Alan McLoughlin.
The Galway riposte was stuffed with quality football, though, as the visitors nailed seven points in a row before Sligo came swinging
Kyle Cawley netted a 56th minute penalty to inject Sligo’s revival with hope and momentum.
Still Galway were in front deep into stoppage time when Liam Gaughan kicked an equaliser from a free, 1-16 to 2-13.
But the Tribesmen seized the initiative in impressive fashion with two goals from the pacy Sean Kelly and Sligo just couldn’t respond again. Paddy O'Connor was dismissed in the closing stages for Sligo as Galway confidently closed the deal.
Final score: Galway 3-20 Sligo 2-14
Scorers for Galway: Sean Kelly 2-1, Robert Finnerty 0-6 (4fs), Michael Daly 1-2, Cillian McDaid and Cein D’arcy 0-3 each, Peter Cooke 0-2 (1f), Colin Brady, Eoin Finnerty, Antaine O’Laoi 0-1 each.
Scorers for Sligo: Alan McLoughlin and Kyle Cawley (1-0 pen) 1-2 each, Paddy O’Connor 0-5 (3fs), Liam Gaughan 0-4 (3fs), Jason Perry 0-1.
GALWAY: Ronan O'Beolain; Liam Kelly, Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh, Ruairi Greene; Kieran Molloy, Dylan McHugh, Cillian McDaid; Peter Cooke, Colm O'Braonain; Antaine O'Laoi, Michael Daly, Colin Brady; Robert Finnerty, Paul Mannion, Dessie Conneely.
Subs: Sean Kelly for Antaine O’Laoi (26), Cein D’arcy for Colm O’Braonain (30), Eoin Finnerty for Colin Brady (30), Eric Lee for Paul Mannion (38), Michael Boyle for Dessie Conneely (50), Cormac Haslam for Ronan O’Beolain (55), Colm Mannion for Sean Kelly (75), William Finnerty for Kieran Molloy (77), Padraig O’Curraoin for Cillian McDaid (77)
SLIGO: Daniel Cafferkey; Eddie McGuinness, Luke Nicholson, Michael Gordon; Darragh Cummins, Paul McNamara, Sean Power; Paul Kilcoyne, Paddy O’Connor; Stephen Connolly, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, Jodie O’Reilly; Alan McLoughlin, Liam Gaughan, Kyle Cawley.
Subs: Sean Carabine for Stephen Connolly (36), Nathan Mullen for Darragh Cummins (44), Jason Perry for Alan McLoughlin (57), Kevin Banks for Luke Nicholson (60), Darragh Cummins for Paul Kilcoyne (64), Brian Mahon for Eddie McGuinness (64), Dylan Kilgallon for Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch (66)
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).
Cillian McDaid of Galway receives the Man of the Match award from Manager access planning at EirGrid Louis Fisher after the EirGrid Connacht GAA Football U21 Championship Final match between Galway and Sligo at Markievicz Park, in Sligo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Micheál Daly of Galway in action against Paul McNamara of Sligo during the EirGrid Connacht GAA Football U21 Championship Final. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Micheál Daly of Galway in action against Sligo's Paul McNamara with on the right Séan Kelly celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the EirGrid Connacht GAA Football U21 Championship. Photos by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Galway players, from left, Kieran Molloy, Liam Kelly and Dylan McHugh celebrate after the EirGrid Connacht GAA Football U21 Championship Final. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile