By Ivan Smyth
Mayo secured their first TG4 Connacht Senior Championship title since 2016 as they ended Galway’s hopes of five provincial titles in a row.
Michael Moyles’ side produced a superb second half performance as they outscored Galway 2-6 to 1-1 in the final period.
Goals from Tamara O’Connor, Rachel Kearns and Sinead Walsh helped Mayo secure top honours as Danielle Caldwell starred. Mayo kicked 1-4 without reply from the 43rd to the 52nd minutes in what was the defining period of the game.
The opening stages saw Mayo start in whirlwind fashion. They kicked 1-3 without reply in the opening six minutes, with Tamara O’Connor palming to the net as she finished off a flowing team move.
Galway were struggling from their own kickout in the early stages but when they beat the Mayo press, Tracey Leonard kicked a settling score. Mayo looked razor sharp up front as Lisa Cafferky helped Mayo in to a five-point lead after 11 minutes.
Galway then showed impressive composure as they slotted 1-4 without reply. Kate Slevin cut out a short Mayo kickout before lobbing Laura Brennan in the Mayo goal with an astute finish. Charlotte Cooney moved Galway in front for the first time in the contest on 18 minutes.
Even though Deirdre Doherty slotted two frees for Mayo, Leonard and Ailbhe Davoren efforts helped Galway lead 1-8 to 1-7 at half time.
The second period saw Mayo start on the front foot as Sinéad Cafferky curled over two excellent scores to help the winners regain the lead. Galway showed their mettle as they battled back in front. Leanne Coen showed her persistence when she finished low to the net after being denied by Laura Brennan and a cohort of Mayo defenders.
Mayo refused to panic though as 1-4 without reply saw them regain control of the contest. Substitute Shauna Howley kicked two frees before fellow replacement Shauna Howley arrowed over.
Walsh made a terrific impact off the bench as she was fouled inside the square as Kearns dispatched the penalty to the net. A Roisin Leonard free stopped the rot but Walsh’s late goal ensured Mayo would not be caught.
Scorers – Mayo: R Kearns 1-2, (1-0 pen), S Walsh 1-1, D Doherty 0-3 (3f), T O’Connor 1-0, S Howley (2f), L Cafferky and S Cafferky 0-2 each, T Needham 0-1.
Galway: K Slevin 1-2, L Coen 1-0, T Leonard 0-2 (1f), O Divilly, L Ward, R Leonard (1f), C Cooney, A Davoren 0-1 each,.
MAYO: L Brennan; S Lally, R Flynn, É Ronayne; K Sullivan, F McHale, T O’Connor; A Geraghty, R Kearns; S Mulvihill, D Caldwell, S Cafferky; T Needham, D Doherty, L Cafferky.
Subs: S Walsh for T Needham (36), S Howley for R Flynn (45), M Cannon for S Mulvihill (48), C Needham for F McHale (57), L Wallace for T O’Connor (57).
GALWAY: A Griffin; K Geraghty, S Ní Loingsigh, A Ní Cheallaigh; C Cooney, N Ward, H Noone; A Davoren, S Divilly; E Noone, O Divilly, L Coen; T Leonard, L Ward, K Slevin.
Subs: B Quinn for A Ní Cheallaigh (40), L Noone for E Noone (40), A Molloy for H Noone (40), M Seoighe for T Leonard (48), R Leonard for K Slevin (48).
Ref - John Niland (Sligo).