Connacht SFC Final: Galway retain title

Connacht Senior Football Championship Final

Galway 2-20 Sligo 0-12

By Cian O’Connell at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park

Prompted by the splendid Matthew Tierney, Galway collected a 49th Connacht SFC title in Castlebar.

Tierney, who finished with a 2-7 haul, planted a couple of goals in the first half as Galway dictated the agenda.

A Pearse Stadium encounter against Tyrone now beckons for Pádraic Joyce’s evolving team. It promises to be an interesting and revealing encounter.

Cool and clinical, Galway were slick in the opening period registering 2-7 from 10 scoring attempts.

Despite a bright start Sligo just couldn’t deal with the favourites, who subsequently reeled off 1-4 without reply.

The underdogs snapped into the contest edging 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after five minutes with Pat Spillane, Seán Carrabine (free), and Darragh Cummins contributing points.

Galway, though, with Cillian McDaid and Dylan McHugh eager to attack from deep, responded.

An Ian Burke point was quickly followed by a 10th minute Matthew Tierney goal as Galway seized the initiative.

McDaid, Shane Walsh (free), and Tierney added points ensuring Galway were 1-5 to 0-3 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

Niall Murphy landed a 45 for Sligo, but once again Galway were unperturbed. Damien Comer forced a turnover which eventually culminated in a second Tierney goal in the 23rd minute.

By the time the interval rolled around Galway’s advantage was a healthy 2-7 to 0-5.

After the restart Galway remained very much in the ascendancy. Tierney was a constant threat, while busy substitute Cathal Sweeney was also prominent.

At the opposite end of the field Niall Murphy and Carrabine clipped scores for Sligo, but Galway were dominant.

Johnny Heaney dashed about craving involvement, while also landing two fine points from play.

It was the first time Galway retained the Nestor Cup since 2003. Now the maroon and white outfit will be especially eager to make an impact on the national stage.

Scorers for Galway: Matthew Tierney 2-7 (1f, 145), Cathal Sweeney, Johnny Heaney, Ian Burke, and Shane Walsh (2fs) 0-2 each, Dylan McHugh, Cillian McDaid, Peter Cooke, Seán Kelly, and Tomo Culhane 0-1 each.

Scorers for Sligo: Seán Carrabine 0-4 (2fs), Darragh Cummins and Niall Murphy (1f, 145) 0-3 each, Paul Kilcoyne and Pat Spillane 0-1 each.

Galway: Connor Gleeson; Jack Glynn, Seán Kelly, Johnny McGrath; Cillian McDaid, John Daly, Dylan McHugh; Peter Cooke, John Maher; Matthew Tierney, Shane Walsh, Johnny Heaney; Rob Finnerty, Damien Comer, Ian Burke.

Subs: Cathal Sweeney for Walsh (41), Dessie Conneely for Finnerty (46), Cian Hernon for McDaid (49), Tomo Culhane for Comer (60), Paul Kelly for Maher (63).

Sligo: Daniel Lyons; Eddie McGuinness, Nathan Mullen, Evan Lyons; Luke Towey, Brian Cox, Darragh Cummins; Cian Lally, Paul Kilcoyne; Finnian Cawley, Paul McNamara, Pat Spillane; Keelan Cawley, Seán Carrabine, Niall Murphy.

Subs: Mikey Gordon for K Cawley (41), Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Lally (49), Patrick O’Connor for Spillane (49), Mark Walsh for Cummins (53), Alan Reilly for F Cawley (65).

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).