Five things we learned from Galway’s demolition of Dublin
Galway put to bed their recent poor record in replays to blow a shell-shocked Dublin out of the water in Tullamore this evening. Here is what we learned from the Leinster encounter.
1) Cathal Mannion Schutting on sight
Cathal Mannion was a shining light in the Galway attack last Sunday, finishing with three points. Today he wrote himself into the record books and had a day he’ll never forget in O’Connor Park. The sharp-shooter needed just 10 minutes to raise the green flag on three occasions to effectively end the contest before the first quarter.
The first two goals were a demonstration of pace, accuracy and no shortage of confidence to take the shot on with space ahead of him. Both shots nestled in the corner of the net giving Dublin goalkeeper Alan Nolan no chance.
The third was pure opportunism, seizing on Colm Callinan’s long puck-out to flick the ball beyond Nolan for the third time.
Cuala corner back Paul Schutte was drafted into Ger Cunningham’s defence, but he had a nightmare return, slipping twice for Mannion’s goals and looking ill-at-ease, along with his fellow defenders as Galway ran riot.
He looked like a player short of match practice and was moved off the man-of-the-moment, but perhaps after the damage was done.
Everything Mannion touched turned to gold and finished with a personal haul of 3-03 in a virtuoso performance in attack.
2) Dublin pay the penalty
The so-called ‘Anthony Nash’ rule has been one of the most talked about rule changes in hurling and Dublin have found to their cost the difficulty of the one v one in a penalty situation.
Johnny Coen was correctly penalised after five minutes, with David Treacy presented with the opportunity to halt the Tribesmen’s momentum. Unfortunately from a Dublin perspective, his placed effort flew past the top right-hand corner and wide.
Deep in injury time referee Brian Gavin harshly awarded Ger Cunningham’s struggling side another reprieve with the interval approaching. Tipperary native Ryan O’Dwyer could have been called for over-carrying, but the wing-forward burrowed towards goal and was adjudged to have been fouled, with Coen again in close proximity.
The Dublin management immediately introduced Paul Ryan for Treacy, but the result was the same. Colm Callanan making a spectacular diving save to ensure the men from the west enjoyed a 15-point advantage at the break.
The work-rate of the Galway side cannot be under-estimated. Anthony Cunningham said pre-match that his side were “well up for it” and that was evident from the first whistle to the last.
Starting from Jason Flynn at corner forward, every player in maroon and white harried around their opponents, never allowing them settle in possession.
Andy Smyth’s yellow card at the close of the first half was the clearest example. Dublin midfielder Darragh O’Connell received the ball on the touchline and immediately was forced to turn towards his own goal under pressure from Aidan Harte and Andy Smyth. The Galway pair forced O’Connell to off-load as he was being shepherded over the line.
Smyth subsequently fouled the next player in possession according to Gavin, but never did a Dublin player have any time to settle and comfortably pick a team-mate out, no matter their location on the pitch.
Even the last play of the game, Dublin had three opportunities to score a goal but last ditch blocking ensured the Dubs couldn’t put a gloss on the scoreline.
4) Joe’s back
A recent hand injury was attributed to the Portumna’s subdued performance first day out in Croke Park, but in Tullamore this evening he demonstrated the array of skills that have marked him as one of the most skilful exponents of the game.
Canning relinquished the free-scoring responsibilities to Jason Flynn, but picked off two points in the opening 35 minutes before really coming to life after the break.
Firstly he rounded Michael Carton, before popping the ball up and tapping past the onrushing Alan Nolan, the only way he could have scored given the angle and positioning of the goalkeeper.
Six minutes into the second half and he had a second, brilliantly catching Iarla Tannion’s booming clearance into the wind before slotting past Nolan to add to Dublin’s misery.
Those who insist that Canning is best utilised on the edge of the square will have far stronger argument’s on today’s evidence. With Flynn and Mannion sharing in the scoring stakes, the Tribesmen have a lethal inside forward line that will poses huge questions for even the meanest of defences.
5) Fragile Dublin
A feature of Anthony Daly’s tenure in the capital was the ability for Dublin to put in some particularly sub-standard performances. Daly has said since that he still cannot explain some underwhelming games against Kilkenny and others and this will be added to the list of disappointing displays.
There were signs in the National League that would have worried Ger Cunningham, the awful first-half showing against Cork in Croke Park, the capitulation against the same opposition in the last four, but this was worse than any Dublin supporter could have feared.
David Treacy was off colour, Conal Keaney and Michael Carton struggled in defence, while Danny Sutcliffe and David Schutte, so prominent six days previous, failed to make any serious inroads in the attacking third.
The qualifiers now beckon for the Dubs.
A favourable draw could get their season back on track, but it is hard to know how much damage such a chastening defeat will do to their mental resolve.