Minors have a second chance

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Connacht Minor Final

Sligo 1-4, Mayo 0-7

SLIGO are still within reach of a first Connacht GAA Football Minor Championship title since 1968 – but only just – after being let off the hook by a wasteful Galway in a low-scoring yet absorbing decider at Hyde Park yesterday (Sunday).

Galway forced next Friday’s replay, which is set for Tuam Stadium, throw-in 7pm, when midfielder Cillian McDaid kicked the equalising point from a 57th minute free at the Roscommon venue.

But Galway’s teens will be kicking themselves for kicking this one away. They landed 15 wides (nine of these in the first-half), dropped four point attempts into the grateful arms of Sligo goalkeeper Eamonn Kilgannon, wasted two scoreable frees and also hit the upright.

They were also frustrated by the aforementioned Kilgannon, who saved Ryan Forde’s goal effort after 15 minutes.

Despite Galway’s abundance of possession and scoring opportunities, Sligo proved a lively force for much of this contest and had heroes in full-back Eddie McGuinness, centre-back Finnian Cawley, midfielder Darragh Cummins and wing-forward Liam Gaughan.

Eddie McGuinness, Sligo’s team captain, was a genuine candidate for Player of the Match but the prize went to his team-mate, Liam Gaughan, who kicked three points and influenced a lot of Sligo’s best moves.

The Aidan Rooney-managed Sligo produced just five scores over the hour but one of these, the game’s only goal, would prove so crucial.

Full-forward Paddy O’Connor’s 27th minute shot hadn’t enough purchase to go over and it reached Galway goalkeeper Ronan Ó Beoláin, who somehow let the ball squirm through his grasp and into the net.

This goal – however fortuitous – put Sligo, this year’s Connacht Minor League champions, in front for the first time, 1-2 to 0-3, which is how it remained at half-time.

Sligo, who trailed 0-3 to 0-1 after 18 minutes, stayed in front until three minutes from the end of full-time – but only had Liam Gaughan’s pointed free after 36 minutes and a booming 39th minute point by Darragh Cummins, from Gaughan’s assist, to show for their second-half endeavour.

Player of the Match: Liam Gaughan

Sligo: Eamon Kilgannon, Brian Mahon, Eddie McGuinness (c), Mark O’Dowd, Nathan Mullen, Finnian Cawley, Sean Power, Darragh Cummins (0-1), Paul Kilcoyne, Liam Gaughan (0-3, 2f), Nathan Rooney, Sean Carrabine, Kyle Cawley, Patrick O’Connor (1-0), Michael Gordon

Subs used: Aaron Kearns for Brian Mahon (injured), 35; Cathal Herron for Sean Carrabine, 38; Kevin Banks for Paul Kilcoyne, 54; Rian Kennedy for Liam Gaughan, 57; Alan McLoughlin for Kyle Cawley, 60

Galway: Ronan Ó Beoláin, Caelom Mulry, Dylan McHugh, Ian Kent, Seán Kelly, Liam Ó Ceallaigh, John Daly, Colm Ó Braonáin (0-2), Cillian McDaid (0-1, 1f), Eric Lee (0-1, 1 ’45’), Conor Marsden, Finian Ó Laoi (0-3), Ciarán Brady, Michael Boyle (c), Ryan Forde

Subs used: Colin Ryan for Conor Marsden, 36; Paudie McCormack for Michael Boyle, 56; Eamon Conroy for Ciarán Brady, 56

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

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