I’m not long in the door from Roscommon, with midnight just gone by so there’s no point spending too long on this one. Galway deservedly beat us in this evening’s All-Ireland Minor football final, in a game where we never really got going and where the team didn’t do themselves justice at all.
There was a big crowd of over 12,000 at Dr Hyde Park for this evening’s Tom Markham Cup decider, played on a perfect summer’s evening. We probably had a bigger crowd there but, for sure, the Galway supporters had plenty more to shout about.
There are many regrets we can have from this evening’s match, the first of which occurred within a few minutes of throw-in. Niall Hurley had a great chance to rattle the Galway net but the ‘keeper pushed his effort away.
The opening quarter was even and, while Galway had more of the ball, we took the chances that came our way. When James Maheady landed a glorious point to edge us ahead – for the first and only time this evening – it was his third point of the game and the second in as many minutes.
We looked to be settling into the game at that stage, having endured a nervy enough opening. But then Galway hit us with four unanswered points and the lively Eanna Monaghan narrowly missed a goal chance too. We were relieved to go in just two point in arrears at half-time.
We were still well in it at that stage. The third quarter was, though, our undoing. Galway pushed on to stretch their lead to five and although we cut the gap back to three, we were unable to get any closer to them.
A few crucial calls went against us at that stage – in what was a very disappointing refereeing performance from our perspective by Niall Cullen – but when Galway ended a 12-minute scoreless spell with an unchallenged score from play, they were on the high road to victory.
Two further points followed to stretch the gap to six, with less than ten minutes to play. Our goose was cooked at this stage and that was the margin between the teams at the finish as Galway claimed the Minor title on a scoreline of 0-15 to 0-9.
From our side of the fence, there’ll be enormous regret at how this evening’s final went. Galway, fair play to them, had their homework well done on us – Nigel Reape explained how with brilliant clarity on our ‘Final Whistle’ pod – and they executed their plans to perfection. They’re deserving All-Ireland winners and congrats to them on their success.
For our lads, it’s such a pity that what had been up to this point an unblemished campaign should end in this fashion. They simply didn’t play to their potential tonight in a game where nothing really went their way.
It’s a tough end to the campaign for them but, despite the rawness of the defeat, it needs to be borne in mind how well they performed all the way up to the final. It wasn’t to be for them tonight but they’ve represented their county with distinction in this competition over the last few months. Hard luck to them for how this evening’s decider went.
Mayo: David Dolan; Rio Mortimer, John MacGonagle, Lorcan Silke; Liam Maloney, Colm McHale (0-1), Paul Gilmore; Jack Keane, Luke Feeney; James Maheady (0-3), Dara Hurley, Diarmuid Duffy; Cathal Keaveney (0-1, free), Ronan Clarke (0-4, two frees), Niall Hurley. Subs: Oliver Armstrong for Dara Hurley, Zac Collins for Keaveney, Oisín Cronin for Maheady, Dylan Gallagher for Keane, Seán O’Dowd for Feeney.