Galway 0-16 Mayo 0-10
The Galway Under-20 footballers made history at Tuam Stadium on Wednesday evening as they claimed their first Connacht championship title at this grade in impressive fashion.
The young Tribesmen team, who were managed to victory by two-time All-Ireland senior medal winner, Padraic Joyce, played some scintillating football against a Mayo side who only got going in the closing stages.
The winners were six points in front at half-time and, despite only scoring once in the final 15 minutes, they ran out comprehensive winners in front of a big crowd at the famous North Galway venue.
Mayo, who came into the game as the defending champions, fell nine points behind early in the second half but battled back bravely in the last quarter to close the deficit.
However, they had left themselves too much to do and points from Paul Towey (2) and Evan O'Brien (2 frees) proved too little too late for the visitors.
In hindsight, the foundation for Galway's victory was laid in the opening half.
Playing with the aid of the wind, the pre-match favourite shot five points in the last 10 minutes of that opening period to lead at the interval by 0-10 to 0-4.
Darragh Silke (younger brother of Galway senior defender, Liam) accounted for four of Galway’s tally (three from frees) with man of the match Liam Costello landing three superb points from play.
Mayo had set the early pace as Evan O’Brien (free) and captain Tommy Conroy both hit the target to ease the visitors into the lead.
But it didn’t take the Tribesmen long to settle and they reeled off five points in quick succession in the space of 15 minutes to take the initiative.
Costello accounted for the pick of those scores with a few eye-catching efforts from play as Mayo’s unforced errors and handling mistakes were punished ruthlessly.
Galway didn’t let up during the second quarter either with substitute Conor Newell extending their lead before Padraig Costello (free) and Darragh Silke underlined Galway’s dominance on the scoreboard.
Mayo only managed two scores in the final 30 minutes of that half with Tommy Conroy and Paul Towey raising white flags as the outsiders struggled to stay in touch.
The Tribesmen turned the screw even tighter after the restart with three quickfire scores from Rory Cunningham, Padraig Costello (free) and Liam Costello extending their advantage to nine points.
Mayo manager Michael Solan ran his bench in an effort to get a comeback going but, despite hitting a string of points in the final quarter, they were unable to engineer the goals they needed.
The homeside had the final say when Matthew Tierney ended a 15-minute barren spell with the final score of the match to put the seal on a fully-deserved victory.
Galway will now take on the Leinster champions, either Dublin or Laois, in the All-Ireland semi-final on the weekend of 27/28 July.
Mayo: J McNicholas; J Coyne, R Brickenden, O Mullin; A McDonnell, C Beirne, E McLaughlin; E O’Brien (0-4, 3fs), G Durcan; J Gallagher, P Towey (0-3), P Goldrick; A Orme, S McGreal, T Conroy (0-3).
Subs used: N Moran for Gallagher; D McBrien for McDonnell; K Callaghan for McGreal; D Gannon for McLaughlin; C Gavin for Orme.
Galway: O Burke; R Mahon, S Mulkerrin, E McFadden; L Boyle, C Potter, J Kirrane; M Barrett, M Tierney (0-1, 1f); L Costello (0-4), G Burke, B O’Connell; D Silke (0-5, 4fs), P Costello (0-3, 2fs), R Cunningham (0-2).
Subs used: J Glynn for Kirrane; C Newell (0-1) for G Burke; M Culhane for O’Connell; E Mannion for P Costello; B Harlowe for Culhane; M O’Brien for L Costello.
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)