National Football League
MAYO’S Ryan O’Donoghue stood up and delivered a brilliant equaliser with the last kick of an action-packed game to earn Mayo a share of the spoils in Saturday evening’s National League opener at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park.
Connacht champions Galway seemed set to get their top-flight campaign off to a winning start when Damien Comer’s free four minutes into added time edged them ahead.
But the outstanding O’Donoghue, who finished with seven points, fired over the levelling score in the sixth minute of added time to earn Mayo a deserved draw in front of a crowd of 13,654 spectators.
It was the first time since November 1997 that the counties had drawn in a league match.
Galway had led at the end at half-time by 1-5 to 1-3.
Another spectacular goal from James Carr in the 10th minute had put Mayo ahead but that was cancelled out by a flicked goal from Matthew Tierney two minutes later.
Paul Kelly then clipped a lovely point to double Galway’s advantage before Ryan O’Donoghue fired over his first effort from play.
Mayo managed just one further point in the last 23 minutes of the half — a well-taken effort from Jordan Flynn.
At the other end, Galway didn’t fare much better as only Robert Finnerty (who injured his ankle kicking an excellent point) and Damien Comer (from a mark) managed to raise white flags.
The second half was a much more compelling spectacle.
Mayo came flying out of the blocks and three points without reply from Ryan O’Donoghue (2, one free) and Mattie Ruane put the homeside back in front.
But Galway came roaring back again when All Star full-back Seán Kelly got forward to fire a low shot past Colm Reape for the visitor’s second goal.
Paul Conroy then pushed the Tribesmen 2-6 to 1-6 up on 50 minutes, but Mayo stuck to the game-plan and they were back on level terms within eight minutes with the irrepressible O’Donoghue converting two frees that he won himself, and impressive debutant Bob Tuohy also on target.
Kevin McStay introduced experienced duo Aidan O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor into Mayo’s attack as they chased a first home win over their neighbours in either National League or championship since the 2014 Connacht Final.
But a booming Peter Cooke free from 50m edged Galway ahead once more in the 67th minute before the crafty Cillian O’Connor popped up a minute into stoppage time to level the match for the fourth time.
Neither side spared anything in pursuit of a winning score in added time, but there was no separating them as Comer and O’Donoghue swopped scores to ensure deadlock wouldn’t be broken.
Next up for Mayo is a trip to the Athletic Grounds to face in Armagh next Sunday.
C Reape; J Coyne, R Brickenden, E Hession; S Coen, C Loftus, D McBrien; M Ruane (0-1), D O’Connor; B Tuohy (0-1), J Carney, J Flynn (0-1); A Orme, J Carr (1-0), R O’Donoghue (0-7, 4fs).
Subs used: A O’Shea for Orme (51); E McLaughlin for O’Connor (51); C O’Connor (0-1) for Carr (63); K McLoughlin for Carney (67); P Towey for Tuohy (35+4).
C Gleeson; E Kelly, S Kelly, N Mulcahy; D McHugh, J Daly, D O’Flaherty; P Conroy (0-1), C McDaid (0-1); P Kelly (0-1), M Tierney (1-0), J Heaney; R Finnerty (0-1), D Comer (0-3, 1f), D Conneely.
Subs used: P Cooke (0-1,1f) for Finnerty (25, inj); C Sweeney for P Kelly (42); E Finnerty for Conneely (48); J Glynn for O’Flaherty (60); G Davoren for Tierney (63).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)