Connemara Gaels 1-15 Mayo 1-8
The Gaels and Mayo got their senior football championship campaigns off to a start on Sunday afternoon. It was an exciting, tight game for the most part, though in the last five minutes the Gaels put enough daylight between the teams to feel comfortable down the stretch.
|The Gaels Kieran Lowe shoots.|
Mayo had the better of things in the first half. Right from the throw-in Sean Kenny pointed and was followed by a free from wing forward, Kevin McAllister. McAllister was a useful element in the Mayo effort and worked hard throughout the 60 minutes. The Gaels had some early chances that were wasted due to wayward kicking, but eventually midfielder Noel Graham got the Connemara men on the scoreboard with a pointed free. Rather than settle the Connemara side, it was Mayo who played the better football. Three unanswered points came from Damien McNicholas, McAllister, and McNicholas again. Meanwhile, the forays forward from the Gaels resulted in little as the Mayo back line dealt with whatever came their way. Mayo used a short kickout strategy that was working well. Once the Gaels copped on and began to deal with the short kickouts they got some change from Mayo. With 10 minutes to go in the half the Gaels put a well-worked goal away, it was Graham Delaney who finished a nice move involving Brian Joyce and Coleman Mulkerrins. Delaney followed with a point, as did Joyce, and the door creaked open for the Gaels. Mayo hit with a goal of their own just as the momentum seemed to be going the other way. Gerard O’Malley took advantage of the newfound freedoms of the amended square ball rule and fisted a high ball into the net from inside the small square. The sides then traded points to make it 1-6 to 1-4 in Mayo’s favour at the break.
|Sean Conneeley on the run.|
The second half saw a much-improved performance from the Gaels who saw some of their key players step up and make the difference. Graham Delaney had three well-taken points from his half forward berth inside the first 10 minutes of the restart, while Sean Conneeley and Mulkerrins also contributed. The Gaels did most of the attacking as midfielders Noel Graham and Brian Joyce became more involved involved in the game. A free won by Joyce and pointed by Graham put the Gaels a goal to the good. Now it was Mayo who were having a hard time locating their men in the forward line. Michael Coyne and Damien Doolin did a tight job in the corner back positions. Delaney and substitute Kevin Owens added two more points. The Gaels shored up the back line by moving Sean Conneeley back and saw out the final five minutes of the game. It was a hard won two points for the Gaels, and Mayo will fancy their chances of taking points off teams this season.
Gaels: J. O’Donnell, D. Doolan, M. Coyne, C. Conroy, S. Curran, K. Lowe, G. Delaney, B. Joyce, AJ Maguire, N. Graham, S. Conneeley, C. Mulkerrins, J. Casey. Mayo: B. Cassidy, A. Coyne, S. Clifford, P. O’Donoghue, K. Comer, M. Murphy, G. Callaghan, S. Kenny, D. McNicholas, D. Igoe, K. McAllister, G. O’Malley, C. Walsh.
By Rory O'Donnell