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GAA Roundup: Galway collapse gives Mayo title

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

Mayo 1-14, Galway 1-10

See what the championship does for reputations? Mayo were back at the pinnacle of Connacht football last weekend when they took advantage of a monumental second-half collapse by Galway at Tuam.

Going into the game as All-Ireland champions, Galway were living up to their billing when they moved clear by four points, 1-10 to 1-6, just after the interval, but that was to be their last score of what turned out to be a disastrous last half hour.

Clumsy, jaded, maybe lacking in the sort of hunger needed for success, the maroon jerseys simply went through the motions as Mayo capitalized to dramatically book their place in the All Ireland semi-final against Cork.

"Yes, I suppose the word hunger comes to mind," said a dejected Galway manager, John O’Mahony. "They seemed to have more appetite for it. We had a couple of chances to put them away and we failed to take them. I just want to wish Mayo the best and I hope they keep the Sam Maguire trophy this side of the Shannon."

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Gary Fahy’s injury, which forced him out of the game, and the fact that defender John Divilly played despite being involved in a car crash the day before, mightn’t have helped the Galway cause, but the truth is their irrepressible football of last summer was sadly lacking.

The turning point for a jubilant Mayo was undoubtedly the introduction of substitutes, Pat Fallon and Kieran McDonald. Amid some heated debate that the pair should have been in from the start, their late entrances actually worked a treat.

Mayo had just squandered a couple of chances when the otherwise excellent James Horan kicked two wides and John Casey threw away a goal opportunity, but Fallon and McDonald were soon to work their magic.

McDonald’s impact was immediate as he created three scores and took a point himself to give Mayo the lead. Pat Fallon also steadied the midfield area, which had largely been ruled by Sean O Domhnaill and Kevin Walsh before his arrival.

"We were able to call on Kieran and Pat to turn the tide," said manager John Maughan. "They were superb in changing things around and I thought our defense was terrific keeping Galway to just a single score in the second half. Tuam’s a great place for us to win a Connacht championship."

Once Mayo hit the front, Galway looked a dispirited bunch. Neither Michael Donnellan nor Ja Fallon were able to dig the team out of a fast deepening hole and the longer the game went on, the more secure Mayo’s defense became, with most of the credit going to the half-back line of Fergal Costello, David Heaney and Alan Roche.

As a livewire, Horan, who produced his best display since the 1996 All-Ireland final replay, pushed his total up to five points, Pat Fallon also got in on the scoring act as Mayo surged clear.

Galway had looked the better combination before the break even when David Nestor hammered home a Mayo goal in the 28th minute. They replied in kind when Padraig Joyce took advantage of a fumble by Mayo ‘keeper, Peter Burke and finished the half in front by 1-9 to 1-6 after further points by Niall Finnegan and Ja Fallon.

No excuses," muttered O’Mahony, "the better team won." Galway’s dream of a two in a row is over, but Mayo are once again flying the flag for Connacht.

Cork 2-10, Kerry 2-4

When Maurice Fitzgerald ends a game without a single score, you have to fear for Kerry, and so it panned out at Pairc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday as Cork stormed their way to another Munster football title.

Recovering from the concession of two first-half goals, Cork steeled themselves and dominated the second period with an extraordinarily committed performance. Kerry were simply blown away by their eternal rivals whose speed at turning defense into attack was breathtaking at times.

Given manager Larry Tompkins’s vaunted reputation as a progressive forward, it was ironic that this Cork victory was built solidly on a tremendous rearguard performance. If Fitzgerald was brilliantly shackled by Ronan McCarthy, then Anthony Lynch and Sean Og O hAilpin, who had struggled early on, also grabbed the attention of the 43,000 crowd with superb individual displays.

"The backs made a big impact for us," said a smiling Tompkins, who is hell bent on an All-Ireland championship as his three-year reign approaches its end. "At halftime, we thought we had a good chance, after all, they only had four scores. After that, I thought we were in charge."

Both of Kerry’s goals were scored by Aodan MacGearailt, with the second coming two minutes before halftime at which stage the Kingdom led by 2-2 to 0-5. Amazingly, they weren’t able to raise a flag for another 25 minutes.

It turned into a tetchy contest and the crowd was treated to the rare sight of the normally composed Fitzgerald getting involved in a punch-up with McCarthy. Tomas O Se then got himself booked after a fracas involving Podsie O’Mahony and later, Eamonn Breen and Brendan Jer O’Mahony had another, more vivid, set-to.

The tussles only seemed to galvanize Cork as Michael O’Sullivan began to control the midfield exchanges. He knocked over a point, Podsie O’Mahony and captain Philip Clifford followed suit to bring Cork level and when Kerry’s goalkeeper, Declan O’Keeffe, failed to hold a high ball, substitute Fachtna Collins fisted home for a goal.

Now Kerry were in deep trouble and while they threatened a brief recovery with points by William Kirby and John Crowley, the games was effectively over when another Cork sub, Fionan Murray, hit a low shot for goal number two.

"We never got going," admitted losing manager Paidi O Se. "We were hoping toward the end, just hoping. Three points ahead at halftime and we didn’t manage to get it back up the field."

Dublin 0-16, Laois 1-11

They might have made it hard for themselves, but Dublin worked their way through to the Leinster football decider after last Sunday’s semifinal replay victory over Laois.

After 50 minutes, they were clear by eight and yet Dublin only won by two. "We got a little bit messy, a bit disjointed near the end," said manager Tom Carr.

After all, Laois were forced to play the entire second half without Damien Delaney, who had been sent off just before the break for stupidly lashing out at Paul Croft, and still the winners struggled. The Laois goal, a hotly disputed penalty converted by sub Chris Conway, came in injury time, but Dublin should have been out of sight by that stage.

What can be said is that they were never on the brink of losing and this was an improved performance from the drawn game, however, the sort of precision that might trouble Meath in the provincial final on Aug. 1 was definitely lacking.

There wasn’t much between the teams in the first half hour, but after Delaney’s dismissal, Laois panicked and began sending long, hopeful balls to Hughie Emerson, who had been moved into full forward. The tactic failed hopelessly and Dublin added four uninterrupted to points to boost their interval lead of 0-9 to 0-5.

The Laois manager, Tom Cribbin, spoke of collective disappointment, but he must have known his players failed to dig deep once Delaney had departed. "They just cruised away from us in the second half and we were probably thinking to ourselves: ‘This is over and done with,’ " Cribbin said. "I’d like to think we’d have won with 15 players on the field, but I’m not sure."

Brian Stynes and Declan Darcy, who contributed half of Dublin’s total between them, were both in excellent form, while Ian Robertson also shone. But Meath will be a much tougher proposition.

Other results

Cork won the minor football final in Munster, beating Kerry by 2-16 to 1-8, while Mayo made it a double over Galway with a 3-3 to 1-6 victory in the Connacht minor decider. Meanwhile, in the Leinster junior decider, Meath got the better of Dublin, 1-9 to 1-6.

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