Galway’s goal glut secures a spot in All-Ireland minor decider
Three goals between the 40th and 46th minutes sets up win against Meath
Galway’s Oisín McCormack scores a goal during the All-Ireland MFC semi-final against Meath at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Galway 3-13 Meath 2-9
A third-quarter goal glut that saw Galway raise green flags three times in six minutes eased the Connacht champions through to the Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor final.
Donal Ó Fatharta’s side were under pressure with 20 minutes to go when they trailed by five points but remarkably outscored Meath by 3-6 to 0-3 from there on.
Their three goals came between the 40th and 46th minutes and turned an exciting and action packed encounter on its head, leaving Galway suddenly three ahead.
They stretched it out to a seven-point gap by full-time and are through to a September 2nd final against Kerry or Monaghan who meet in the second semi-final on Sunday.
Man of the Match Aidan Halloran also weighed in with three points from centre forward as Galway turned on the style when it truly counted.
It’ll be their second final in three seasons, having lost to Kerry in 2016, and they will push for a first title since 2007 when current senior star Paul Conroy was starting out.
Manager Ó Fatharta maintained he wasn’t overly concerned despite trailing a fancied Meath side by four points at half-time and by five early in the second-half.
“I expected us to create those chances, and we did, and we played well in the second half and we were able to take those chances which is not always easy,” said Ó Fatharta.
“To get to an All-Ireland final is no mean feat, especially this year with the round-robin in Connacht where you have to play everyone. So they really deserved it and I’m delighted for them.”
Leinster champions Meath dreamed of reaching a first All-Ireland decider since 2012 when current senior boss Andy McEntee was in charge.
Kelly’s strike was all down to his own perseverance as he raced in from the right and somehow beat the goalkeeper with a shot from the acutest of angles.
Aidan Halloran hit Galway’s last two points of the first half and added his third after the restart to ignite their charge.
Poor Meath only added five points in the second half, four of those coming from Mitchell, as Galway dominated, outscoring them 3-7 to 0-5.
Two minutes later sub Oisín McCormack shot home from the right and centre back Tony Gill notched the third after a clever pop pass over the top from Kelly.
Gill still had plenty to do but cut inside his man before opening his body out to beat the goalkeeper with a quality finish.
It left Galway 3-7 to 2-7 clear and with a strong platform at midfield they increased their lead from there.
Free-taker Ryan Monahan was guilty of some bad errors but finally got off the mark late on with two points while Halloran, Raftery and sub Tomo Culhane all got on the scoresheet.
GALWAY: D Halloran; C Deane, S Black, E Walsh; R Monahan (0-2, two frees), T Gill (1-0), C Sweeney (0-3); P Kelly (0-1), C Raftery (0-1); O Gormally, A Halloran (0-4), L Judge; E Tinney (1-0), D Cox (0-1), M Cooley.
Subs: O McCormack (1-0) for Cox (h/t), C Hernon for Judge (b/c, 35 mins), E McCormack for Gormally (40), T Culhane (0-1) for Cooley 52, C Halbard for Tinney 56.
MEATH: S Brennan; J O’Hare, H O’Higgins, C Hickey; C Farrelly, C Harford, S Coffy (0-1); A Reilly, C McBride; B McCormack (0-1), M Costello (0-1), D Swaine; D Bell (0-2, two frees), L Kelly (1-0), L Mitchell (1-4, one free).
Subs: C Hawdon for Costello (38-40 mins), Hawdon for McCormack (41), O McCloskey for Farrelly, N Bennett for Reilly, B O’Hanlon for Swaine (all 50), L Newe for McCloskey (b/c, 53), J Moore for Kelly (56).
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).