Connacht SFC: Freeman goal enough for Mayo

June 26, 2011

Galway's Finian Hanley and Donal Vaughan of Mayo go head to head in the Connacht SFC semi-final at Castlebar ©INPHO/James Crombie
Mayo 1-12
Galway 1-6

Mayo put a disappointing Galway outfit to the sword this afternoon at a rain-soaked McHale Park to book their place into the Connacht SFC final against Roscommon.

Played terrible conditions at Castlebar, Galway only edged a grab first-half thanks to Paul Conroy's goal a minute from half-time and failed to live with the pace of their opponents after the restart as Alan Dillon, Aidan Moran and Alan Freeman all shone bright for the home side.

The trio all combined for a goal which was superbly tucked away by Freeman in the 58th minute and it proved enough to be the catalyst for victory here, as the off-key Tribesmen could muster a single point during the entire second-half.

The lively Dillon struck two early wides into the breeze in the opening stages, before goalkeeper Robert Hennelly was called upon to boot over their opener from a free in the eight minute.

Cormac Bane posted the reply for Galway from a well-struck free and in the next veteran Padraic Joyce sent the onrushing Gary O'Donnell through but the wing-back flashed his shot just past Hennelly's left hand post.

Another Bane free soon followed to put the Tribesmen in front, but when Jason Doherty was afforded the time and space in the far right corner to shoot over the first point from play, the sides were level for the second time.

The wides continued to mount for both teams as Bane ended an 11-minute scoring drought after Trevor Mortimer was caught in possession by Gareth Bradshaw, who slipped the corner-forward through to tap over his first from play.

A Hennelly '45' levelled only momentarily for Mayo, as Padraic Joyce, who grew weary in the second-half, lost his marker Alan Feeney long enough to raise a white flag before another precise free from Bane steered the visitors into a two-point lead.

Mortimer - operating at left half-back - cut the deficit to one with a fine score off his left boot, but just as they looked as though they were to even things up coming towards half-time, the hosts were hit with a killer blow on the eve of the interval.

A 'route one' ball lofted into the Mayo square wasn't dealt with properly by Tom Cunniffe and the break fell nicely for full-forward Paul Conroy, who failed to lift the ball with his first touch but eventually slid a low finish under Hennelly to the net.

The goal left James Horan's men ruing a wides tally of nine during the first 35 minutes and a 1-5 to 0-4 score-line by the halfway stage.

Mayo resumed with real intent, as captain Alan Dillon drove forward from the throw-in to earn a free on the edge of the square, which the 2006 All Star slotted himself.

Two goal chances followed for the home side, yielding two points. The first when Andy Moran cut inside and passed to Alan Freeman, whose central shot was tipped over by Galway 'keeper Aidan Faherty, who had earlier sent a '45' of his own left of the post.

The second opportunity saw youngster Cillian O'Connor race through and blast over for his first score in the championship, but the goal was certainly at his mercy.

Mayo had caught fire though and by the 45th minute they were level for the fourth time in the game when wing-forward Kevin McLoughlin swung over a sweet score from all of 45 metres.

A fourth unanswered point arrived by the 50th minute after O'Connor's second goal effort was parried by Faherty and the anticipating Moran smashed over the rebound for the lead.

The Tribesmen looked to be in trouble, but could have had the lead back when Joyce gathered possession out on the left flank and spotted Eoin Concannon unmarked in front of goal. The wing-forward gathered and was closed down quickly, but still should have found the net instead of smashing the ball over.

Tomas O'Flatharta sprung ace forward Michael Meehan from the bench moments after, however it couldn't stop the game's turning point from arriving with 12 minutes to go.

After Concannon had squandered a crucial goal chance, Mayo's next meaningful attack saw Dillon carry possession as far as Moran, who released Freeman in a flash and the full-forward shot a low finish for three more points.

Freeman and substitute Ronan McGarrity each lashed rousing points in the 63rd and 65th minutes, which left their neighbours needing at least another goal in the closing stages to be in with a chance.

Instead it was substitute Enda Varley that wrapped things up for Mayo after Jason Doherty had held up possession in the corner and found the speedster with a nicely weighed pass which allowed him to turn and shoot over with the help of the crossbar, confirming his side's place in next month's provincial decider against the Rossies.

Most Read Stories