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O'Shea leads from the front as Mayo win Connacht title



Lead role: Aidan O’Shea skippered the Mayo side that reclaimed the Connacht football title yesterday

Lead role: Aidan O’Shea skippered the Mayo side that reclaimed the Connacht football title yesterday

�INPHO/James Crombie

Lead role: Aidan O’Shea skippered the Mayo side that reclaimed the Connacht football title yesterday

Mayo bridged a five-year gap by reclaiming the Connacht Senior Football Championship title yesterday but they had to do it the hard way against a resolute Galway side before coming out on top by 0-14 to 0-13.

James Horan's team had waited five years to get their hands on the trophy again and it was no surprise to see skipper Aidan O'Shea beam with delight as he took delivery of the Nestor Cup.

O'Shea has been to the fore with Mayo recently and his leadership skills were again in evidence as his team just managed to fend off the vibrant challenge of a Galway side that battled right to the end.

It was Mayo who set the early pace with Tommy Conroy, Diarmuid O'Connor, Cillian O'Connor and Paddy Durcan all on target in an early points-scoring salvo and with Mattie Ruane prominent at midfield, the side looked set to dominate.

However, both sides went score for score in the second quarter, with Ryan O'Donoghue (mark), Ruane and Cillian O'Connor from a free all landing points but these were matched by Galway for whom the lively Shane Walsh and Paul Kelly were on target.

This left Mayo ahead at 0-8 to 0-5 with Galway having forced their way back into the match.

The second-half, though, proved a more turgid affair with Mayo encountering difficulty in playing into the breeze.

Yet they eventually managed to accumulate six points from 12 shots which was in contrast to seven wides recorded by a Galway side that was unable to achieve consistency when it came to taking scores despite some impressive build-up play.

Paul Conroy and the energetic Walsh showed superbly for Galway but they lacked support on occasions as Mayo's tight marking limited their efforts up front.

Mayo's one-point win came as a relief for manager Horan as his side prepare to meet the winners of the forthcoming Munster championship final between Cork and Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Meath, meanwhile, appear to have recaptured top form after a dismal campaign which culminated in demotion from Division One of the Allianz League.

Yesterday they handed out a shock 5-9 to 0-15 defeat to Kildare to book their place in the Leinster final having led by 0-10 to 0-4 at the half-way stage.

In the second-half, Meath moved into overdrive and Matthew Costello, Jordan Morris, Cillian O'Sullivan, Joey Wallace and Jason Scully all hit the Kildare net in a sustained goal blitz.

Jimmy Hyland, Paddy Brophy, Darragh Kirwan and Kevin Flynn strove desperately to turn the tide but could not stem the tidal wave of Royal county attacks.

The Kildare defence was breached far too easily by the eager Meath attack

Last week Meath scored seven goals in accounting for Wicklow and manager Andy McEntee is hoping that his team's new-found scoring touch will serve them well in the forthcoming Leinster final against Dublin.

While Meath's relegation to Division Two triggered disappointment in this proud football county McEntee clearly feels that his team can make amends in the championship even though Dublin are fancied to remain as kingpins.

Belfast Telegraph