Mike Solan’s Mayo U20s came to Tuam Stadium this evening seeking to land the county’s second Connacht title in a row at this level. While Galway went into tonight’s provincial decider as favourites, there were high hopes that our lads might upset those odds and land us another win over the neighbours.
Sadly, however, it wasn’t to be. Galway took control in this game early enough in the first half and, by the break, were already on their way to victory. We never looked like mounting any kind of strong comeback after the break either, as the contest petered out in the drizzling rain, with the home side easing to a six-point win on a final scoreline of 0-16 to 0-10.
Our best period in the first half occurred in the first two minutes. An Evan O’Brien free after a foul on Tommy Conroy opened the evening’s scoring in the first minute and then Tommy Conroy cut in off the left to point soon after.
We had plenty of the ball in that opening spell but we failed to add to our tally, four efforts at the posts all going wide. Galway, meanwhile, steadied themselves and just before the tenth minute had hit back to edge in front for the first time.
We continued to dominate the possession but our failure to hold onto the ball, often in situations where we were under no real pressure, was now starting to hurt us.
By half-time, our profligacy in that department was an open wound. Time and again, we kicked the ball to the opposition or else simply lost control of it as we tried to go forward. An increasingly menacing Galway attack began to make us pay for gifting them so much of the ball.
We had to wait nearly twenty minutes for our third score – a Tommy Conroy point, which cut the gap to two – but they kept tacking on points at the other end. By half-time the Galway lead had stretched to six points, 0-10 to 0-4, and already a win was looking like a tall order for us.
They added another immediately after the restart and added the next two as well as the game slipped further from our grasp. We pulled two back – an Evan O’Brien free and a nice one from play from Tommy Conroy – but they then proceeded to add on two more at the other end.
Points from Paul Towey and Evan O’Brien (a free) cut the gap back to seven with ten minutes to go. But we needed a goal now to have any hope and that, in truth, never looked on for us.
Paul Towey, fed by sub Kuba Callaghan, got our third point on the spin and an Evan O’Brien free brought our tally into double figures. The tide in this contest was finally running in our favour but it was too little, too late.
Galway were content to do a bit of keep-ball in injury-time but then in the dying seconds got a free about thirty yards out. Tierney planted it to close out a six-point win for the young Tribesmen.
So, our hopes of three wins in a row over the neighbours inside a week have been dashed. We’ve no complaints about tonight’s result, Galway were full value for their win. The best of luck to them from here on and hard luck to our lads, it wasn’t to be for them in this one.
Mayo: Jamie McNicholas; Jack Coyne, Rory Brickenden, Oisín Mullin; Aaron McDonnell, Conor Beirne, Eoghan McLaughlin; Evan O’Brien (0-4, three frees), Gavin Durcan; John Gallagher, Paul Towey (0-3), Paddy Goldrick; Aiden Orme, Stephen McGreal, Tommy Conroy (0-3). Subs: Nathan Moran for Gallagher; David McBrien for McDonnell; Kuba Callaghan for McGreal; David Gannon for McLaughlin; Ciaran Gavin for Orme.