Merciless Galway trounce Antrim after early shock
GALWAY 2-31 ANTRIM 1-9
IT is hard to believe, with 25 points between them at the end, that Galway were in serious trouble in the first half and one of the greatest shocks ever was in the offing.
Indeed, Antrim were not in the least flattered when they opened up a 1-4 to 0-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and might have been further ahead had they made the most of their chances.
But then it all went wrong and once Galway were given an opening, they were merciless. The dismissal of goalscorer Kieran Kelly after 24 minutes changed the complexion of the game and took the wind out of Antrim's sails.
At the time there were three or four tussles taking place off the ball but referee Denis Richardson had no choice but to issue a straight red after Kelly pulled across Galway full-back Ger Mahon right in front of him.
Antrim were well worth their six-point lead after 17 minutes after Kelly pounced on a mistake by Greg Kennedy when he fumbled a long delivery from Brendan Herron.
The wind helped Antrim, but it was their ability to win most of the 50-50 exchanges that gave the crowd of almost 4,000 the greatest fear that a shock result might be on the cards.
But Galway used the extra man and the wind to great effect.
Damian Hayes blazed through for a goal and in the lead-in to the interval Ger Loughnane1s men outscored Antrim by seven points to one to lead by 1-10 to 1-5 at the break.
The ruthless streak which Loughnane has craved all year became apparent in the second half.
John Lee manned the centre-back role with authority and Galway carved open the stretched Antrim defence with pace and precision.
Loughnane said afterwards he still does not know if they have reached a level to trouble Kilkenny, but their speed and strength tore Antrim to shreds.
Alan Kerins shot eight points from play, four in either half and Iarla Tannian and Niall Healy picked off four each.
Kerrill Wade landed eleven points, seven of them from placed balls, as the Galway attack went ballistic.
"Last week they could hardly muster a score between them, today they couldn1t miss," said Loughnane. "Antrim losing a man seriously weakened them but we needed to step up to it.
"What pleased me most was when we went behind early in the game we never panicked, even when we were shooting wides. But we will be blown away if we give Kilkenny that sort of headstart."
Only three Antrim players managed to score and they could only muster one point from play over the hour despite all their first-half possession.
Kevin Broderick got Galway's second goal seven minutes from time but by then all thought had turned to an All-Ireland quarter-final showdown with champions Kilkenny.
"That game will tell us just how far we have progressed. We won't be long finding out," added Loughnane.
Scorers - Galway: K Wade 0-11 (6f, one 65), A Kerins 0-8, K Broderick 1-2, N Healy, I Tannian 0-4 each, D Hayes 1-0, F Healy, A Callanan 0-1 each. Antrim: K McKeegan 0-6 (5f, one 65), P McGill 0-3 (2f), K Kelly 1-0.
Galway: C Callanan; G Kennedy, G Mahon, F Moore; D Hardiman, J Lee, D Tierney; D Collins, D Hayes; A Kerins, M Kerins, I Tannian; N Healy, K Broderick, K Wade. Subs: F Healy for Tierney (28), S Kavanagh for Tierney (41), A Callanan for M Kerins (44), K Burke for Hayes (52), R Murray for A Kerins (62).
Antrim: R McGarry; A Griffin, M Kettle, S Delargy; M McCambridge, J Campbell, C Herron; K McKeegan, B Herron; P McGill, N McManus, M Herron; K Stewart, K Kelly, P Shields. Subs: S McCrory for B Herron (48), B McFall for C Herron (55), B Delargy for McGill (59).
Referee: D Richardson (Limerick).