Robert Finnerty strikes late to save Galway from shock exit at the hands of Sligo

Sligo led all the way through up until Finnerty’s goal in a game that should energise them before a potential run in the Tailteann Cup

Connacht SFC semi-final: Sligo 0-14 Galway 1-13

Robert Finnerty’s goal in additional time at the end of a pulsating second half spared Galway a shock exit as they limped rather than sprinted over the finish line with a two-point defeat of gutsy Sligo in a Connacht semi-final that defied all pre-match expectations.

Sligo led all the way through up until Finnerty’s goal and now must take this unrewarded energy into the Tailteann Cup.

Underdogs Sligo were facing a Galway outfit placed two levels higher in the Allianz Football League, with the home side hoping to make this a much closer contest than last year’s provincial final when Galway won by 14 points.

Sligo, who last defeated Galway in the Connacht SFC in the 2012 semi-final, started with fierce intent and they had raced into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the 18th minute.


Patrick O’Connor was Sligo’s best player in the first half, in front of an attendance of 4,597, as Galway struggled to make an impact.

The visitors’ best spell of the opening period saw them cut the deficit to a point, 0-5 to 0-4, with Johnny Heaney and Robert Finnerty contributing excellent points.

Sligo maintained their lead through to half-time and they were 0-9 to 0-6 up at the break.

Galway could, and should, have scored at least three goals in that first half as there were excellent chances for Cein Darcy, Liam O’Conghaile, Jack McCabe and Dylan McHugh, who lashed a shot over for side’s second point after 21 minutes.

It looked like Galway would be made to pay for these goal misses as they trailed by three points, 0-14 to 0-11, with 58 minutes gone – Sligo had continued to be brisk and competitive and had added further points through Sean Carrabine, Niall Murphy and Alan McLoughlin.

Damien Comer’s introduction was immediately transformative for a hitherto stuttering Galway – he shot two quality points and also went close with a low, drilled goal effort that was deflected out for a 45.

Galway squeezed the margin down to a point, 0-14 to 0-13, but Sligo were still holding on – although the home side could have done without some missed chances in the closing stages.

Then Galway struck for the match-winning goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Damien Comer punished a Sligo defensive turnover and he fed Johnny Heaney, who gave Robert Finnerty an easy finish from close range.

Galway progress to the final but their next opponents will sense that the Tribsemen, off form here, can be taken.

Sligo: A Devaney; E Lyons, E McGuinness, P McNamara; B Cox, N Mullen (0-1), D Cummins (0-1); S Carrabine (0-1), C Mulligan (0-1); C Lally (0-1), A McLoughlin (0-2), P O’Connor (0-3); P Kilcoyne, N Murphy (0-3, one free, one mark), M Gordon (0-1). Subs: L Deignan for M Gordon (52 mins), M Walsh for C Lally (62), P Laffey for D Cummins (65), E Smith for S Carrabine (67), D Conlon for P O’Connor (70+1).

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Fitzgerald, J Glynn; D McHugh (0-1), J Daly, L Silke; P Conroy, S Kelly; J Heaney (0-1), S Walsh (0-1), C Darcy (0-2); J McCabe, R Finnerty (1-5, one free), L O’Conghaile. Subs: D Comer (0-2) for J McCabe (42 mins), C O’Curraoin for S Walsh (47), D O’Flaherty for J Daly (55), K Molloy (0-1) for L O’Conghaile (58), P Egan for P Conroy (64).

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).