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Duffy shoots Mayo to Oscar win

Fergus Quinn of the Mayo League races away from Galway captain Seamus Rabbitte
THE THRILL OF THE CHASE Fergus Quinn of the Mayo League races away from Galway captain Seamus Rabbitte during last Sunday’s Oscar Traynor Cup clash at Milebush. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Duffy shoots Mayo to Oscar win

Mayo League 3
M Duffy (47, 54), D O’Malley (87)
Galway League 1
S Walsh (62)


MAYO continued their great start to their Oscar Traynor Cup campaign with a gutsy victory against a fancied Galway side at a wet and windy Milebush Park on Sunday afternoon. Mayo in the main had a very solid defensive display to thank coupled with a hugely impressive performance from two goal hero, Michael Duffy, who ran himself into the sodden ground for the Mayo cause.
Ably assisted upfront by the ever dangerous Vinny O’Malley, Duffy transferred his superb Super League form to the inter-county stage. He really should have had a hat-trick after missing two golden opportunities in the second half to add to his two-goal haul.
This really was an intriguing contest despite the absolutely atrocious conditions. The rain pummelled down for the first hour of proceedings but credit to both sets of players who did their best to put on a show for the brave contingent of fans nestled in the refuge of the Milebush stand.
The game was on a knife edge for the last half hour after Simon Walsh got Galway back into the game on 62 minutes after Duffy’s two clinical early second half goals. Galway owned the ball for long spells in that last period but the Mayo defence, with Peter Burke and James Gillespie particularly effective, stood firm. This allowed substitute Dessie O’Malley put the issue beyond doubt on 87 minutes with a thumping drive, after another sub, Eamon Crean, put him through with his first touch.
The game was very even during the opening half as both sides struggled to cope with the adverse conditions. The first real opportunity fell to Galway’s classy winger Walsh who started a great Galway passing move on 15 minutes with some silky skills in the middle of park. Full back Brian Griffin received the ball out wide before centering a fine cross with Walsh tracked but his looping header was well held by Ciarán Kelly.
The inclusion of Gillespie at full-back for Mayo meant the home side were always dangerous from set pieces. The big Glenhest man went close on 18 minutes went he neatly flicked a Eugene Gorman corner goalwards only for Darren Roache to stand firm.
The rest of the first half consisted of half chances as both defences remained on top. Well known GAA player Seamie Crowe always looked a danger from distance and on 37 minutes he cut in from the left and curled a sweet left foot shot from 25 yards which made Kelly go full stretch to tip the ball around the post.
The Tribesmen finished the half much the stronger with Mike Tierney and Crowe both having half chances. One would be forgiven for thinking that Mayo were in trouble as they headed to the dressing rooms for a well warranted half-time cuppa.
But new manager Mick Wallace certainly utilised the break to motivate his troops. Mayo came out of the dressing rooms in a different mood, grasping the initiative from Galway and talking the lead on 47 minutes. Philip Devers had seen plenty of ball in the opening period and this time he chipped a ball goalwards which Vinny O’Malley flicked neatly in the box. This allowed Duffy to slip inside a static Brian Geraghty and finish with a cool left foot strike into the bottom corner of Darren Roache’s net.
Just five minutes later Duffy missed an absolute sitter to make it two-nil after some brilliant play from O’Malley, who ghosted past two defenders before squaring the ball to Duffy, who blazed over from six yards out with keeper Roache grounded.
However the Ballina target man more than made up for it on 54 minutes when he raced in along the end line and tried to turn provider for O’Malley, only to see his centre rebound back into his path off Geraghty. Duffy kept his cool and slotted the ball underneath Roache to make it two-nil to the hosts.
It was all Mayo at this stage and Vinny O’Malley almost made it three-nil on 56 minutes after Devers pinged in a fine cross from the right wing. The Westport man rose to send a looping header goalwards but the ball just went the wrong side of the post.
However, after their early second half dominance, Mayo retreated into their shell after the hour and Galway grabbed hold of the initiative. The Mayo management made the strange decision to withdraw Fergus Quinn and break up the ever dangerous partnership of Duffy and O’Malley in favour of playing the latter in midfield. The Mayo midfield began to sit deeper and deeper, leaving the striker isolated.
A subdued Johnny Mernagh finally tested Ciarán Kelly with a shot from a tight angle on 61 minutes and just a minute later the same player set up his side’s first goal. The Athenry striker, who scored the winner in the Connacht Cup Final in Milebush against Castlebar Celtic in 2004, slid onto a loose ball which keeper Kelly managed to block. But the alert Simon Walsh was rushing in from the right wing and he scooped the ball over Kelly to make it 2-1.
Corofin Gaelic footballer, Alan O’Donovan, was introduced on 70 minutes to try and draw his side level. But Mayo’s defence, to their credit, battled hard and limited any clear-cut opportunities for their talented opposition. Mathias O’Malley blasted a half chance over on 81 minutes as Mayo bodies funneled back effectively but that was as close as Galway got and Mayo wrapped up their victory on 87 minutes.
All three Mayo subs were involved in the goal with Liam Foy receiving his throw-in back from Devers before sending in a fine cross which Eamon Crean controlled with his first touch of the game. He then slid the ball into the path of Dessie O’Malley who walloped the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards.
Galway’s frustration was epitomised by Mathias O’Malley late lunge on Ciarán Kelly which resulted in a red card in injury time. Mayo are now in the next round and it will take a good side to defeat them judging by their last two performances.

C Kelly; T Walsh, P Burke, D Flynn, J Gillespie; E Gorman, J Collins, F Quinn, P Devers; V O’Malley, M Duffy. Subs: D O’Malley for Quinn; L Foy for Walsh, E Crean for Gorman.
D Roache; B Griffin, N McDonnell, B Geraghty, T Walsh; S Walsh, S Rabbitte, S Crowe, M Tierney; J Mernagh, M O’Malley. Subs: D O’Neill for Griffin; A O’Donovan for Crowe; V Flaherty for Mernagh.
Referee: D McGrath.

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