Ten years after Meath and Dublin contested the only All-Ireland minor football final between two teams from the same province, Galway and Mayo secured their place in the 2022 decider after surviving late surges from Derry and Kerry respectively in this afternoon’s semi-final contests.
Galway held off a late fightback from a 14-man Derry side in Parnell Park to eke out a 2-9 to 1-11 victory in the first of the two fixtures, with goals at the start of each half from Colm Costello and Jack Lonergan proving crucial to the Tribesmen’s progression to a fourth All-Ireland minor final in seven years.
Despite losing three games in the Connacht championship, two to Mayo, Galway have picked up momentum through the All-Ireland series and they certainly hit the ground running in Donnycarney, getting off the mark with a deflected goal from Jack Lonergan after great approach play from man of the match Tomás Farthing opened up the opportunity.
Scores were hard to come by at both ends of the ground in the opening quarter, with both sides adding just one point each, but Galway gradually found their stride and outstanding points from Colm Costello and Shay McGlinchey moved them 1-4 to 0-1 clear shortly before half-time.
Derry were handed a lifeline in a 60-second spell just before half-time, when Eoin Higgins blasted in a goal and McGlinchey was black-carded.
However, a goal from Costello just after half-time put the Tribesmen back on the front foot, and they kept Derry at bay for most of the second half, the pick of their scores coming from Éanna Monaghan.
Trailing by 2-9 to 1-5 with ten minutes remaining, the Oak Leaf county threw caution to the wind and found their stride with points from Johnny McGuckian, Ciarán Chambers and Conor Downey.
Their momentum continued even after McGuckian was shown a second yellow card, but four minutes of stoppage time wasn’t quite enough, as Galway held on to prevail.
Mayo’s tally of 3-18 in their quarter-final victory over Kildare suggested they were the most formidable attacking side still left in the competition, but they stuttered and stumbled through the opening 20 minutes of their game with Kerry, and were fortunate that a goal from Ronan Clarke meant they were only two points adrift at that stage, 0-6 to 1-1.
The contest changed completely when talented Kerry forward Donagh O’Sullivan was black carded as Mayo went on a run of five points without reply while O’Sullivan was off the field.
Kerry had a chance to get back on level terms when Paddy Lane glided past two tackles and left himself one on one with goalkeeper David Dolan, but an incredible save from Dolan pushed Lane’s shot onto the post and he was able to gather and clear the rebound.
Mayo enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout the closing stages of the game, but a flurry of late wides left Kerry in the game, and Dolan had to come to their rescue one more time, parrying a Colm Browne shot to preserve both Mayo’s lead and their victory.