SPOT THE BALL Sligo’s Rory McHugh and Mayo’s Paul Towey contest for possession during last Wednesday’s Connacht Under-20 FC semi-final at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
TOMORROW evening’s Connacht Under-20 Final in Tuam Stadium will be the fourth meeting of importance between the old rivals inside six days!
But this Under-20 contest should be a cracker given the form of the sides in the semi-finals; Galway beat Roscommon in Kiltoom last Wednesday by 0-17 to 1-7 while Mayo ran out 19-points winners over Sligo.
When the sides met in the preliminary round of the minor grade back in 2017, Galway easily beat Mayo by 3-15 to 0-11 in MacHale Park.
They went on to defeat Sligo in the final by 3-11 to 0-10.
Galway paraded 10 of that team against Roscommon last week, with Mayo having eight of their 2017 minors on duty against Sligo.
Oran Burke, Seán Mulkerrin, Eoghan McFadden, Liam Boyle, Matthias Barrett Matthew Tierney, Gavin Burke, Darragh Silke, Padraig Costello, and Rory Cunningham all saw game time.
Jamie McNicholas, Jack Coyne, Conor Beirne, Gavin Durcan, John Gallagher, Paul Towey, Stephen McGreal, and Tommy Conroy were Mayo’s standard-bearers two years ago.
Galway won the John Kerins Cup earlier in the season, with wins over Kildare, Cork, Kerry and Dublin. The win over Kerry in Kilmallock is highly significant given the Kingdom’s successes at minor level in the past number of years.
The Tribesmen are unbeaten to date, and are highly fancied to progress to at least the final stages of the championship.
Mayo have been less impressive to date; they were very good in defeating Donegal in the Philly McGuinness Cup, and also in beating Roscommon in the same competition.
However, they lost out to Tyrone in their final game in the competition in Healy Park. They travelled to Omagh with a depleted team due to several of the panel sitting the Leaving Cert, consequently that result may not give a true reflection of their real worth.
Galway were very impressive in their win over Roscommon at Kiltoom on Wednesday last particularly in the first half. They played some fine football early on, but their performance dipped a little particularly in the third quarter. Also, they conceded a soft goal to the Rossies against the run of play.
Rory Cunningham did very well in scoring 0-4, with captain Seán Mulkerin, Matthias Barrett at midfield, Matthew Tierney, Darragh Silke and Padraig Costello playing very well.
Mayo did all that was asked of them in beating Sligo in the other semi-final against a weak Yeats County outfit.
They didn’t have to get out of third gear against a Sligo side that reached the final of the Philly McGuinness cup only to be defeated by Tyrone.
However, against a better team than Sligo there may be concerns about their full back line under the high ball.
The likes of Jamie McNicholas (goal), Oisín Mullin, Rory Brickenden, Evan O’Brien, Gavin Durcan, Aidan Orme, and Tommy Conroy all did very well in the defeat of the Yeats County.
This is a game that is very hard to call. It has all the ingredients of being a cracker. The fact that the game is in Tuam may tilt the result in favour of the Tribesmen, but it should be close, very close.
Connacht u-20 Football Championship final
Galway v Mayo
Tuam at 7.30pm
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)