The Connacht Football Championship took a turn for the best as it turned out to be one of the most competitive championships out of the four provinces this year. With the so-called smaller teams such as Galway and Roscommon making headlines in Connacht.
The Connacht Championship began over the pond in America at Gaelic Park in New york. Where Roscommon overcame a mighty scare against New York and managed to scrape a one point victory in the preliminary round.
In the quarter- finals Roscommon shook off the cobwebs of that performance in New York to comfortably dispatch Leitrim to the tune of 1-21 to 0-11.
While in the other quarter-final in London it marked an end of an era for London GAA as it was the last match to be played at the old Ruislip before the redevelopment work began.
London showed enough courage and effort throughout the game but the ultimate quality of the Mayo side proved decisive as Mayo claimed a 2-16 to 0-09 win over the Londoner’s with the help of goals from Conor Loftus and Jason Doherty.
The semi-finals threw up two games of different quality. With the first semi- final Roscommon v Sligo being incredibly one-sided as the Rossies beat Sligo 4-16 to 2-13 and secured a spot in the Connacht final.
Six days later Galway and Mayo battled it out for the honour of meeting Roscommon in the final.
Mayo were in a comfortable position are were actually 0-08 to 0-06 up at half time before Thomas Flynn got the crucial goal with 15 minutes left on the clock. Mayo we shellshocked and failed to recover as Galway recorded a remarkable win in their biggest rivals own backyard. While Mayo headed for the back door of the championship for the first time since 2010.
So onto the final where almost nobody would have predicted a Galway and Roscommon final at the start of the year.
The final was a tense affair which resulted in Roscommon managing to scrape a draw. Despite the Rossies starting the final brighter and getting the only goal of the game and forcing a replay as it finished 1-10 to 0-13 . Much to the dismay of Joe Brolly who publically salted Roscommon for being `useless` on The Sunday Game.
The replay was nothing like the first final in tightness as Galway punished the Roscommon backline to secure a comfortable 3-16 to 0-14 win to claim the first Connacht title in 8 years. Thanks to a brace from Danny Cummins and Gary Sice who got the pick of the goals.
So 2016 remains year of the underdog we have to wait and see if Galway can do it all again in 2017. But it won’t be easy Mayo will be hurting from their poor campaign. As will Roscommon with the pain of getting so close but yet so far. Both will surely be looking to hit back with a vengeance next year