Mayo 2-18 Galway 3-12
After a week of controversy in the O’Byrne Cup put the future of pre-season intercounty competitions into the harsh glare of public scrutiny, Roscommon manager Davy Burke didn’t exactly help matters when he called for the competitions to be scrapped after his side’s 3-17 to 2-12 win over Sligo on Friday night.
Mayo and Galway rode to the rescue on Saturday night, however, as they produced a contest that was full of drama, quite informative, and most importantly, was keenly contested by two managers that value the event.
“It’s a competitive game against our old rivals Galway, we’d fight over tuppence, that’s the nature of the rivalry. I’m very happy to get another game in this excellent competition in the Dome” was Kevin McStay’s verdict after his first competitive game as Mayo manager.
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And while Pádraic Joyce didn’t seem too perturbed to have lost the game, he was relieved that his players didn’t simply roll over after falling 11 points behind once Bryan Walsh fired over the first score of the second half.
“In fairness to the lads in the second half, they put their shoulder to the wheel and put a bit of spirit back into it and we had a couple of goal chances, Mattie [Tierney] went through at the end there and he might have had the shot on,” said Joyce.
“It was a good run out, we learned a lot about players – we learned about what players are up to it, and we learned about lads who are not up to it,” was his somewhat chilling summary that will no doubt get back to the panel.
Certainly in the first half, or more particularly the second quarter, Mayo were devastating, outclassing Galway.
After the first eight points were shared equally, Mayo produced some really powerful football, with Jordan Flynn and Matthew Ruane superb at midfield, to lead by 2-9 to 0-5 at half-time.
Jordan Carr and Paul Towey were the goalscorers, and even after Galway rallied in the second half on the back of a quick 1-2 from Tomo Culhane, four points unanswered from Carr, Towey, Aiden Orme and Walsh helped Mayo to lead by nine points with eight minutes remaining.
Yet goals from Tierney and Culhane set up a dramatic finish, where it fell to Mayo goalkeeper Rory Byrne to parry a late effort from Nathan Grainger in order to preserve Mayo’s lead and send them through to a final clash with Roscommon next Friday night.
The start of the McStay era, or what some would call the post-Lee-Keegan era, is under way.
“The nature of things is that, it’s a tough story for a day or two, and then it all moves on. He was a great player and an even better man and we’d have loved to have had him, but the body couldn’t give any more. So we’ll move on, tonight is about getting the next fella, and we’re a bit further down the line on that,” said McStay.
MAYO: R Byrne; J Coyne, R Brickenden, S Callinan; F Kelly, S Coen, D McHugh; M Ruane (0-1), J Flynn; F McDonagh (0-1), B Tuohy (0-1), B Walsh (0-3); A Orme (0-5, one free), J Carr (1-2), P Towey (1-4, two frees).
Subs: K Callaghan (0-1) for McDonagh (58 mins), G Durcan for Carr (62), C Dunleavy for Kelly (67), C Dempsey for Walsh (69), Kelly for Coyne (70), R Carolan for Towey (70).
GALWAY: B Power; S Fitzgerald, B Mannion, J Foley; C Sweeney (0-1), D McHugh, D O’Flaherty; J Maher (0-1), M Barrett; D Canney, M Tierney (1-0), J Heaney (0-3); R Finnerty (0-2), I Burke, B McHugh (0-2, one free).
Subs: E Kelly for Foley, E Murphy for Canney, T Culhane (2-2) for McHugh, P Kelly for Barrett (all h-t), J Kirrane for Sweeney (53), J McLoughlin for Maher (57), D Comer (0-1) for Fitzgerald (60), N Grainger for Burke (69), B Mannion for O’Flaherty (69).
Referee: B Judge.