All-Ireland champions Galway left it late but eventually scored an unconvincing 0-12 to 1-07 victory over Mayo in the first of this year's Bank of Ireland Connacht semi-finals at Castlebar's McHale Park this afternoon. Padraig Joyce was the Galway hero once again with a succession of excellent second-half points from frees and open play, but wasteful Mayo will rue their erratic shooting after the break when they added just two points to their productive first-half tally of 1-05.

Mayo, who lost last year's provincial decider to Roscommon by a solitary point and their subsequent qualifier to Westmeath by a similar margin, undermined an excellent first-half with a disjointed display after the break. Playing with the advantage of a strong breeze, Mayo got off to the perfect start with a tremendous goal inside ten seconds, when Michael Moyles rifled the ball past Alan Keane in the Galway goal.

They extended their lead and held a comfortable 1-05 to 0-04 advantage at the interval, and but for the squandering of several scoreable chances during a scrappy second 35 it would have been them progressing to the decider against Sligo or Leitrim, who meet next Sunday. However, Galway, anxious to make up for last year's semi-final exit to Roscommon, set about reducing the deficit after the interval, and with their wholehearted defence well on top, it was left to captain Padraig Joyce and co in attack to claw The Tribesmen back into contention.

And back into contention they came with scores from play and from the polished boot of Joyce from frees as Mayo continued to relinquish possession and squander scoring opportunities with alarming frequency. Galway's equaliser came from Joyce with full-time approaching as Pat Holmes' side struggled to contain the maroon attack, and the same player gave the visitors the lead for the first time when he pointed magnificently from play in injury time. His brother Tommy Joyce completed the scoring with his first point in the dying seconds to give Galway a two-point cushion, but Mayo will have to work on their shooting if they are to dream of emulating Galway's successful run last year having lost at the same stage.

Filed by Shane Murray