A noisy weekend in GAA HQ, four games, one game shouting louder than the rest of them. Louder than the rest of them put together.

The second chapter of a double header is typically pegged as the main event but the Kerry-Mayo game on Sunday felt, in atmospheric terms at least, almost like an over-40s exhibition match tagged on at the end of the county final. All the more so for being delayed by an hour.

Not since 2009 or 2010 has a Mayo championship exit been greeted with such a shrug. The result marked the official end of Horan's second term in charge - he was phlegmatic and courteous in dealing with questions afterwards, though he wouldn't be drawn.

The Armagh-Galway game was so anarchic, so thrilling, so madcap, so malevolent - that the rest of the weekend, from Derry's impressive throttling of Clare, to Kerry ending Mayo's season, felt like an afterthought.

At the end of it all, Galway wound up preserving their 100% championship record against Armagh - after a fashion.

Leading by six points heading into the elongated period of injury-time in normal time, the Connacht champions proceeded to concede two goals in a remarkable display of panic under the high ball.

In that context, Galway showed impressive mental resolve in extra-time, none more so than the superb Cillian McDaid who slotted home a vital goal before curling over the equalising point right at the death.

And so, 160 minutes after it all began, Matthew Tierney slotted the winning penalty as Galway ran out 4-1 winners in the shootout, booking their place in the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2018.

One of the bigger talking points in the environs of Croker yesterday was the composition of the crowd.

Armagh (and Carlow!) fans brought great colour to Croke Park

Armagh, having built huge momentum in their wins over Tyrone and Donegal, brought a massive crowd to the capital. Galway, not traditionally one of the more excitable fanbases, were outnumbered to an extraordinary degree.

That old underdog Connacht solidarity - of the type that resulted in a Galway band writing and performing what is now the Mayo anthem - appears to have disappeared entirely, the Mayo support who were in early getting behind Armagh in their late surge (or a fair few of them at any rate).

Indeed, the size of the Armagh contingent was a large factor in the deadened atmosphere in the second game, as most of the orange clad army sloped off home or to the pubs after the shootout. Further evidence of the drawbacks of double headers.

The bookies essentially declared the game a dead-heat at the outset, once again, their judgement vindicated as the teams couldn't be separated at half-time, full-time or the end of extra-time.

Cagey in the first half, Galway jetted clear in the third quarter, Johnny Heaney's palmed goal and a burst of points helping them open up a gap which survived until the closing stages. Armagh, dominant in the early stages, were stifled thereafter. The westerners, in truth, were a superior team to the tune of a few points.

But their resurgent form in 2022 has run hand in hand with shaky management of the endgame. (Even the three-point margin in the relatively comfortable Connacht final deeply flattered Roscommon.)

The jitters here took the biscuit. Just as eight minutes of injury-time were announced, Gleeson flapped at a long ball into the square, Aidan Nugent arriving to push home the rebound. Suddenly a game that was trickling away to a clear conclusion was back in doubt.

Moments later, the panic extended, Gleeson catching a ball in the square, spinning and fisting it rashly in the direction of the onrushing Conor Turbitt who booted it home.

Possibly even worse than Gleeson's wobbles in goal was Shane Walsh's unfathomable decision to spray a Hollywood crossfield pass when the clock running down, when easier options presented themselves - including the option of holding on to it.

It was as if Galway's collective mind was clouded, the extraordinary wave of noise generated by the enormous Armagh following ("deafening", Joyce called it) perhaps a contributory factor.

Possession was lost, Armagh were offered one last chance to sally upfield. The free was duly manufactured and Rian O'Neill's trusty howitzer of a boot sent over the long range free with plenty of room to spare.

Then came the almost inevitable brawl as the players hurtled towards the tunnel.

In an effort to discover why respective captains Sean Kelly and Aidan Nugent were the ones sent off, Whelo did a Pat Spillane style forensic brawl investigation on The Sunday Game of what occurred at full-time.

The extended Armagh panel member, ominously trending on Twitter last night for "appearing to make contact with the face of Damien Comer", couldn't have been sent off as he had never been sent on.

One has to wonder whether the tradition of allowing both sets of teams to boot it down the same narrow tunnel may not be long for the world - it's remarkable that it's held as long as it has.

The feeling at the venue was that Galway's nerve was surely shattered and that Armagh had all the momentum. However, McDaid said afterwards that the brawl, oddly enough, had the effect of jolting Galway awake and helping them re-focus.

McDaid would emerge as Galway's sturdy hero in extra-time, after another comedy goal had put them on the back foot, Conor Gleeson rooted to the spot and helpless in the face of another awkward bouncing ball, Grugan the one to hustle it home.

And so onto the penalty shootout, the third of the 2022 championship, the first on such a grand stage.

Stefan Campbell bent over in anguish after striking his over the bar, while the Galway boys' pens were Teutonic in their efficiency. It was noted afterwards that they had practiced them beforehand. Could that interminable debate about the worth of penalty practice be about to migrate from the soccer to Gaelic football?

The stadium DJ, addicted to 'Let's Dance' though he is, deserves credit for sparing us 'Galway Girl', opting for the more retro 'N17' instead. (In a dark day for the association five years ago, Ed Sheeran's version of GG was played after Galway won the Leinster hurling final).

Oddly enough, in 2022, it's been the winning managers who've been most vocal in condemning shootouts, losing gaffers perhaps concluding that cribbing would be unseemly in the aftermath of defeat.

Steffan Campbell stares at the ground after missing his penalty in the shootout

Tony McEntee blasted shootouts after overcoming Leitrim in the Tailteann Cup, and Padraic Joyce did so here, paraphrasing Nigel Owens' favourite line in the process.

"It such a hard way to lose a game after putting in such an effort over the last couple; Kieran has put so much work in with them and we've also put in the work over the last two or three years, training Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at weekends. To decide the outcome on a penalty shootout.... we're not soccer, we're GAA. To me it's disgraceful it had to happen."

After assuming the reins in Galway in late 2019, Padraic Joyce startled some by announcing that anything less than an All-Ireland title in 2020 would be deemed an "underachievement."

For whatever reason, Covid seemed to disrupt Galway's momentum more than anyone else and after galling losses to Mayo in successive knockout championships, 2022 was regarded as 'make or break' for Joyce. The year has most certainly made him.

As in 1998 and 2001, they will meet Derry in the last-four. How did that year end again?

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