Thursday 27 April 2017

Perfect 10 for Molloy as Galway edge out Dublin in semi-final thriller

GALWAY 0-21 DUBLIN 0-19 (After extra-time)

Galway players, from left, Darragh Dolan, Conor Jennings, Declan Cronin and Seán Loftus celebrate after the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U21 Championship Semi-Final game between Dublin v Galway
Galway players, from left, Darragh Dolan, Conor Jennings, Declan Cronin and Seán Loftus celebrate after the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U21 Championship Semi-Final game between Dublin v Galway
Conor McKeon

Conor McKeon

IT took almost 90 minutes of tense play in Thurles but Galway took their spot in this year’s All-Ireland Under 21 hurling final tonight, outlasting Dublin to win by 0-21 to 0-19 after extra-time.

They’ll play a Waterford team so heavily fancied to win the final as to be unbackable, but Galway – in blatant contrast – can say they’ve come through a tough, if error-strewn, battle.

The teams were level eight times tonight when the stiff wind offer periodic equilibrium.

Galway’s total wide tally stood at 16. Dublin’s tipped the scales at 21 and therein, essentially, was the difference.

Galway senior Brian Molloy can lay claim to being the most influential player on the pitch, scoring 10 points, four of which came in the extra-time as the Tribesmen simply preserved for what their first victory at the grade in five years.

It was almost six weeks since Dublin beat Offaly in the Leinster final.

Cian Boland of Dublin, left is consoled by team mate Shane Barrett
Cian Boland of Dublin, left is consoled by team mate Shane Barrett

Galway, famously denied entry to that same provincial Championship at the main underage grades, meanwhile, were coming together in a competitive match for the first time as group.

It showed.

Dublin were the slicker in the first half and but for some errant shooting would have steamed into the sort of lead their superior play deserved.

They hit nine wides and had a goal chance saved in 20 scoring attempts from which they derived 10 points.

Galway's Cian Burke, left, and Seán Loftus celebrate
Galway's Cian Burke, left, and Seán Loftus celebrate

Riain McBride, the wiry St Vincent’s man who spent a spell on Ger Cunningham’s senior squad this year before suffering a broken wrist, was the most consistent source of scores from deep.

Shane Barrett, an established starter with the seniors, scored the best point of the half though, fetching a Cathal Touhy puck out that caught up in the wind and scoring Dublin’s last point of period from 90 yards.

Galway weren’t without their charms, though.

Midfielder, Dan Nevin scored three points, the third of which was a gloriously-sliced sideline while Brian Molloy hit three (one free) of his own.

Their most recognisable player, Conor Whelan, missed the best goal chance in the half.

Isolated with Eoghan O’Donnell, he wrong-footed the Whitehall defender and had a full goal to aim at.

Dublin ‘keeper Johnathan Treacy produced an outstanding save, however, pinging Whelan’s head-high shot off his stick over the bar.

Thusly, Dublin led 0-10 to 0-7 at the break, not quite enough given the force of the wind in their sails during that period but given their proclivity towards peaking in their second-half performances this year, not exactly terminal either.

They got the first score of the second half, too, but Galway found a particularly productive groove thereafter, scoring the next six points to go into a lead but Dublin were unyielding, despite hitting another nine wides in the second half.

Galway corner-forward looked to have won it after the otherwise sublime Shane Barrett was turned over coming out of defence but 30 seconds over the appointed three minutes of injury-time, Cian Boland picked out Cian MacGabhann, who sent us to extra-time.

SCORERS – Galway: ‪B Molloy 0-10 (5f, 1 ‘65), D Nevin (1 sideline),

‪T Monaghan 0-3 each, C Whelan, É Burke 0-2 each, D Dolan 0-1.  Dublin: ‪C Bennett (3f), R McBride, C Boland

‪0-3 each, S Treacy (2f), A Jamieson-Murphy 0-2 each, J Madden, F Ó Riain Broin, C MacGabhann, S Barrett, E Conroy, E McHugh 0-1 each.

GALWAY: C Touhy; C Jennings, D O’Donoghue, D Cronin; F Burke, S Cooney, S Loftus; D Nevin, D Dolan; K McHugo, B Molloy, E Burke; T Monaghan, C Whelan, C Burke. Subs: B Concannon for McHugo (40), J Mannion for C Burke (45), E Brannigan for Dolan (53), S Linnane for Whelan (63 inj), J Grealish for Mannion (80), A Morrissey for Monaghan (76).

DUBLIN: J Treacy; C MacGabhann, E O’Donnell, J Madden; F Ó Riain Broin, S Barrett, J Bellew; R McBride, J Malone; C Boland, A Jamieson-Murphy, E Conroy; S Treacy, S Ó Riain, C Bennett. Subs: P O’Dea for Ó Riain (43), C O’Neill for Bennett (46), E McHugh for Conroy (55), B Bolger for Ó Riain Broin (61 inj), Ó Riain for Jamieson-Murphy (69), M McCallion for Bolger (80), C Bennett for McBride (82)

REF: D Kirwan (Cork)

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