(Photo – Galway GAA)
The talking points from Sunday’s National Football League clash in Pearse Stadium will center on three late red cards but Galway are on three wins from three and have consolidated their Division One status.
3 wins out of 3 for Galway as they take the points with victory over Mayo in Round 3. See the full-time highlights here on GAANOW. pic.twitter.com/GtEEfYIHCR
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 11, 2018
Kevin Walsh’s charges joined Dublin on maximum points after coming through a fiery meeting with their rivals as Paul Conroy and Mayo’s O’Connor brothers (Cillian and Diarmuid) saw red as things boiled over in the closing stages.
Barry McHugh’s 19th minute goal gave the Tribesmen the initiative to lead throughout and even though Mayo reduced arrears to two at half-time (1-4 to 0-5), Conroy and Eamonn Brannigan kicked crucial points in the second period to ensure no doubt about the winners.
Damien Comer opened affairs with two minors by the ninth minute before the visitors finally got in on the scoring. However, when McHugh beat David Clarke for Galway’s goal, they were four points clear before Shane Walsh added a free.
Mayo played their way back but failed to capitalise on second half chances as Galway pulled 1-9 to 0-7 clear with Conroy converting a brace and Brannigan adding three white flags.
They were set for a fourth consecutive win over Stephen Rochford’s men even if Jason Doherty, James Breen, Colm Boyle and Eoin O’Donoghue increased Mayo’s tally but two consecutive defeats before they face Dublin will have the All-Ireland finalists playing catch-up to survive again.
Galway were seven points clear when things turned ugly as a 20+ man brawl resulted in Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh, Cathal Sweeney and Conroy getting yellows from referee Anthony Nolan along with Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea.
A second Conroy booking saw him depart shortly after before 10 minutes of injury time resulted in Cillian O’Connor going for a straight red after an apparent elbow on Eoghan Kerin. Diarmuid O’Connor got a second yellow for an altercation with the same player before the finish.
Galway’s initial league target has been achieved as six points is highly unlikely to result in relegation. They travel to Kerry in two weeks but the 9,850 supporters in Salthill will already be licking their lips at the prospect of these Connacht rivals going head-on again in the championship on May 13th.
Martin Breheny wrote in the Irish Independent – “The Connacht Council could announce a 100 per cent increase in ticket prices for the Mayo-Galway Connacht championship quarter-final in Castlebar on May 13 and still be guaranteed a capacity crowd.”
Pat Nolan in the Irish Mirror said – “Galway have joined Dublin at the top of Division One after beating Mayo in a bad-tempered Allianz Football League tie at Pearse Stadium.”
And Kevin Tayler in the Irish Sun wrote – “Cillian O’Connor, Diarmuid O’Connor and Paul Conroy were sent off late on as tempers boiled over at Pearse Stadium.“