Connacht SFC Final: Galway finish with a flourish

Connacht Senior Football Championship Final

Galway 0-16 Mayo 0-15

By Cian O’Connell at Pearse Stadium

There is usually drama when these two Connacht foes collide, so when Galway finished with a flourish, the locals celebrated gleefully.

A third provincial title on the spin was collected in Salthill, but this was an afternoon when character was demonstrated.

Trailing by two points in stoppage time, a Damien Comer inspired Galway launched one final comeback mission. It ended up being accomplished when goalkeeper Conor Gleeson stroked over an immaculate free to seal an immensely satisfying success.

Ravaged by injuries throughout the 2024 campaign, Galway’s marquee players are returning and the depth of Pádraic Joyce’s panel is increasing. For Mayo this was a bitterly disappointing conclusion.

Having assumed a decent position in the closing stages when scores from Ryan O’Donoghue (free), Mattie Ruane, and Tommy Conroy edged them 0-15 to 0-13 in front, Mayo didn’t close out the deal.

The opening period was tight with turnovers being forced by both teams, but Mayo eventually departed armed with a 0-7 to 0-5 advantage.

Damien Comer, Galway, and David McBrien, Mayo, in Connacht SFC Final action. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Galway relied on the excellence of Comer, who was centrally involved in four of the five maroon and white scores.

At the opposite end of the field, Mayo enjoyed some encouraging moments with Fergal Boland, Ryan O’Donoghue, and Tommy Conroy posing stern questions.

Deadlocked 0-3 each in the 18th minute, Mayo subsequently reeled off three points on the spin courtesy of Donnacha McHugh, Conroy, and O’Donoghue free.

Galway responded clipping two of the next three scores as Rob Finnerty landed efforts either side of an O’Donoghue point from a mark.

After the restart the tempo and scoring rate increased significantly. Galway embarked on a burst to lead for the first time on 43 when Finnerty landed a point. Mayo came thundering back; it was that sort of game.

Jordan Flynn, Mattie Ruane, and O’Donoghue (two – one free) rifled over scores to put Mayo 0-11 to 0-8 clear. Again it was Galway’s turn to enjoy a spell of supremacy. Finnerty (2), Gleeson (free), and Shane Walsh thumped over points before Cillian O’Connor kicked a sweet leveller.

Walsh replied for Galway, but it appeared that Mayo’s trio of points would matter deeply. Galway refused to read from that script. Pressure frees in the dying embers from Finnerty, Walsh, and Gleeson ensured Galway retained the Connacht title.

Scorers for Galway: Rob Finnerty 0-8 (5fs), Shane Walsh 0-3 (1f), Damien Comer and Connor Gleeson (2fs) 0-2 each, and Johnny Heaney 0-1.

Scorers for Mayo: Ryan O’Donoghue 0-6 (4fs, 1m), Mattie Ruane 0-3, Tommy Conroy 0-2, Donnacha McHugh, Fergal Boland, Jordan Flynn, and Cillian O’Connor 0-1 each.

Galway: Connor Gleeson; Johnny McGrath, Jack Glynn, Seán Fitzgerald; Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Liam Silke; Paul Conroy, Céin D’Arcy; Johnny Heaney, Seán Kelly, Kieran Molloy; Rob Finnerty, Damien Comer, Cathal Sweeney.

Subs: John Maher for Molloy (21), Shane Walsh for Sweeney (33), Matthew Tierney for Heaney (52), Seán Ó Maolchiaráin for Fitzgerald (65), Daniel O’Flaherty for Daly (70+1).

Mayo: Colm Reape; Sam Callinan, David McBrien, Rory Brickenden; Eoghan McLaughlin, Donnacha McHugh, Jack Coyne; Stephen Coen, Mattie Ruane; Jordan Flynn, Fergal Boland, Jack Carney; Aidan O’Shea, Tommy Conroy, Ryan O’Donoghue.

Subs: Diarmuid O’Connor for Boland (45), Cillian O’Connor for O’Shea (54), Enda Hession for Flynn (58), Conor Loftus for Coyne (65), Bob Tuohy for Carney (70+1).

Referee: David Gough (Meath).