Galway and the Gaels served up fantastic fare for the first of the senior football semi-finals. There were penalties, goals, last minute comebacks, near misses, red cards, and extra time. The Gaels looked like they would blow Galway away in the early going, but Galway came back and took a late lead. As time ticked away two last gasp points from the Gaels forced extra time. The Gaels prevailed in the extra period, but it could as easily have been Galway. Gearoid O’Connor was through on goal in the dying minutes and had a great chance to pull off the win, but the ball slipped wide of the far post.
|The Connemara Gaels were pushed all the way by Galway on Sunday.|
The Galway back line stepped it up in the second half, the Gaels half forward line had a hard time trying to get any change out of their markers. The first three points of the second half went to Galway, two were lovely efforts from James Carroll. The Gaels brought Danny Cummins deeper and introduced Tommy Walsh in an effort to revive a flagging forward line. Kevin Cummins first leveled the scores and then put a close range free over the bar to put Galway ahead. With the Gaels midfield out of it and Galway in the ascendancy, things were then truly turned on end when Galway won a penalty. Cummins was pulled down in the area and took the penalty himself. The ball ended up in the back of the net and Galway led by four points. The Gaels pulled back to within two points thanks for frees from John Molloy and Paul Conroy. With less than 5 minutes left every ball was of utmost importance. Tommy Walsh did great work for the Gaels in the middle of the field winning or breaking ball, and the Gaels revived their efforts in the latter stages. Gavin Joyce and Gordon Kelly each pointed before the final whistle to force extra time with the scores tied at 1-12 a piece.
Two tired teams took the field for the extra period and it was as tight as the game. Each side lost a man before the extra time break. The Gaels lost Liam Wylie for a second yellow card as he fouled the speedy David Kelly one too many times. For Galway it was Anton McFadden who saw the red card. The Gaels opened a two-point lead down a man, and before the break Cummins pointed a free for Galway. Tommy Walsh added to the Gaels lead in the second period of added time. Gearoid O’Connor made a run and was through on goal only to shoot low and wide of the posts when a goal seemed imminent. Galway pushed hard for a goal which would win the game, but the Gaels played held out in defence to hold on and make it through to the final.
Gaels: B. Joyce, L. Wylie, G. Kelly (0-1), B. Murphy, J. Duane, P. McNicholas, B. Connor (0-2), P. Conroy (1-4), S. Connelly, R. Fox (0-1), B. Carroll, N. Judge, D. Cummins (0-2). Subs: T. Walsh (0-2), J. Molloy (0-2), G. Joyce (0-1)... Galway: P. McComiskey, G. Dunphy, D. Walsh, S. Gallagher, A. McFadden, J. Kehoe, A. Shore, E. Kavanagh, G. O’Connor, D. Kelly (0-1), D. Redden, K. Cummins (1-8), J. Carroll (0-4).
By Rory O'Donnell