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Rob Finnerty scores a last minute goal to break Sligo’s hearts as Galway push their way into the Connacht football final

SLIGO were cruelly denied a shock victory after Rob Finnerty’s injury-time goal earned Galway a place in the Connacht decider.

The Yeats County looked set for a first Championship victory over their rivals in twelve years and a second successive final for the first time ever.

Rob Finnerty scored the winning goal for Galway in their Connacht SFC semi-final against Sligo
Sligo came within moments of a stunning win over the Tribesmen

That was until Eddie McGuinness spilled a ball and Galway struck. Damien Comer took possession before driving towards the Sligo defense.

Two hand passes later, Finnerty palmed the ball into the net at Markievicz Park.

The defeat was so brutal that even Galway player Pádraic Joyce expressed his condolences for the home side.

He said: “We played second fiddle all day and didn’t get into the game.

“I feel sorry for Sligo. We will live to fight another day.

Galway had plenty of chances to win the match as they went into the four minutes of added time with 11 wides.

That didn’t include a series of short attempts or a handful of failed attacks in the red zone, but three clear goal chances for Céin Darcy, Jack McCabe and Comer.

Still, it felt like Sligo’s lead was well deserved at that late moment.

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They started brilliantly as Darragh Cummins and Cian Lally top-scored for a 0-4 to 0-0 lead.

Shane Walsh struck back with a solo score, but that was essentially the only time he escaped the shackles of Evan Lyons.

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Finnerty carried the Tribesmen in front and points from himself, Dylan McHugh and Johnny Heaney helped close the gap to 0-5 to 0-4.

But Sligo responded with points from Patrick O’Connor – who had 0-3 in the first 35 – and Alan McLoughlin to make the score 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time.

Finnerty’s third point, in the opening minute of the second half, closed the gap to two before Comer came off the bench to score with his first touch.

Sligo killed Galway’s momentum with scores from McLoughlin, Niall Murphy and Seán Carrabine and they were three up with five minutes to go.

But missed chances left Galway in the game and when Kieran Molloy and Darcy pointed they had four minutes of stoppage time to equalise.

With Finnerty’s goal they got much more.

Despite the loss, Sligo boss Tony McEntee was proud of his side.

He said: “We were fantastic from start to finish. I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say we were the better team and we deserved that win.

“Without a doubt, considering it was against a strong Division 1 team.

“This match was an opportunity to see if we could compete and take our chances.

“The answer was largely yes. This team can now realize that the qualities we have here in Sligo, and the opportunities we now have to continue, are real.”

For everyone, in the last few minutes, an even greater opportunity also seemed very real.

SLIGO: A Devaney; E Lyon, E McGuinness, P McNamara; N Mullen 0-1, B Cox, D Cummins 0-2; C Lally 0-1, P Kilcoyne; S Carrabine 0-1, A McLaughlin 0-2, C Mulligan 0-1; M Gordon 0-1, N Murphy 0-3, 1f, 1m, P O’Connor 0-2. Subs: L Deignan for Gordon 52 minutes, M Walsh for Lally 62, P Laffey for Cummins 65, E Smith for Carrabine 67, D Conlon for O’Connor 70.

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GALWAY: C Gleeson; S Fitzgerald, J McGrath, J Glynn; D McHugh 0-1, J Daly, L Silke; P Conroy, C Darcy 0-2; S Kelly, J Heaney 0-1, LÓ Conghaíle; J McCabe, R Finnerty 1-5, 1f, S Walsh 0-1. Subs: K Molloy for Kelly 47 minutes blood, D Comer 0-2 for McCabe 42, C Ó Curraoin for Walsh 46, D O’Flaherty for Daly 55, K Molloy 0-1 for Liam Ó Conghaíle 58, P Egan for Conroy 64.

REFEREE: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).

Damien Comer celebrates after teammate Robert Finnerty scored the winning first goal during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final against