Friday 17 January 2020

Both sides leave happy as O'Neill gets Galway reign under way with victory

Walsh Cup semi-final: Galway 0-19 Dublin 0-18

Dublin duo James Madden (r) and Cian Boland get up close and personal with Galway’s Johnny Coen. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Dublin duo James Madden (r) and Cian Boland get up close and personal with Galway’s Johnny Coen. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

The suspicion yesterday in Parnell Park was that there was mutual appreciation for the outcome from both managers.

Shane O'Neill got a win in his first competitive match as Galway manager. But, much more than that, an opportunity to see a raft of young, unproven players in a competitive environment on a tight pitch against a good team.

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This was Galway's first game of the season and given they play Westmeath at home in first round of the National League in two week's time, they won't be overly perturbed by having to go to Wexford just seven days beforehand to for a chance to retain the Walsh Cup.

"It's been a very enjoyable but very busy six or seven weeks, trying to organise everything," O'Neill said afterwards of the opening weeks of his reign.

"Everyone's been absolutely superb so it was great to get out on the pitch."

Mattie Kenny, meanwhile, admitted afterwards that inwardly he was compelling his team to find an equaliser as the clock wound down and Galway kept a constant, if always minimal, lead.

Aidan Harte of Galway in action against Cian Boland of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Aidan Harte of Galway in action against Cian Boland of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

But in its totality he was more than happy with what his team had taken from the Walsh Cup, regardless of any scepticism of playing matches at such an embryonic time point in the hurling season.

Yesterday was Dublin's fourth game in the competition and their third match in just a week.

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Kenny also had 14 players in Fitzgibbon Cup action elsewhere and with a trip to Nowlan Park first up in the League on January 26, another match next Sunday might have been more a hindrance than a help.

On a heavy pitch yesterday, there was little by way of clean or sharp hurling.

Galway manager Shane O'Neill. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Galway manager Shane O'Neill. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

But Kenny was more than pleased that his players had tried to play the way he desires, even if the conditions meant that carried a high degree of risk.

"In fairness to the guys, they were doing the right thing all day but that's the third game on that pitch in seven days," he explained.

"It was a lot heavier today than it was last Sunday or last Thursday night, the underfoot conditions weren't as good out there today.

"I think both teams, when they had chances to get in on goal, they slipped at the wrong time and that was on both sides.

Thomas Monaghan of Galway in action against James Madden of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Thomas Monaghan of Galway in action against James Madden of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

"Look," he shrugged, "you have to make allowances for all of that.

"Both teams served up a reasonably good game of hurling, it was very clean and competitive and I was talking to the Galway management going off there and they're.... both sides are pretty happy."

O'Neill cut a calm, understated figure in his first real match as an inter-county manager.

His team was a typical January blend of freshness and maturity.

Early on, one of the debutants Diarmuid Kilcommins drew plenty of attention to himself with two points from the right wing.

It was two of Galway's most established heads; Cathal Mannion and Johnny Coen, who came up trumps late on.

"You actually can't beat games," O'Neill observed.

"You could see it there, guys were out on their feet there at the end on both sides, very hard or virtually impossible to replicate that in training."

For Dublin, Eamonn Dillon posed a constant menace and Oisín O'Rorke scored 0-10 (8f), but significantly, as the League comes into view, there were first appearances of the campaign for Danny Sutcliffe and Seán Moran as late substitutes.

"It was a nice even contest," Kenny observed.

"This time of the year, it was just about getting a game into the lads. It was a nice competitive game for both sides."

SCORERS - Galway: T Haran 0-8 (7f), C Mannion 0-3 (1f), J Coen, D Kilcommins, S Bleahane 0-2 each, TJ Brennan, C Walsh 0-1 each. Dublin: O O'Rorke 0-10 (8f), E Dillon, J Hetherton 0-2 each, C Crummey, C Boland, M Howard, D Sutcliffe 0-1 each.

GALWAY - E Murphy; D Cronin, R Burke, J Grealish; J Coen, G McInerney, TJ Brennan; S Linnane, A Harte; D Kilcommins, C Mannion, T Monaghan; S Bleahane, T Haran, D Glennon. Subs: P Killeen for Cronin (h-t), C Walsh for Linnane (45), R O'Meara for Monaghan (51), J Coyne for Bleahane (51), M Horan for Brennan (56), J Holland for Burke (56), Brennan for McInerney (65), Bleahane for Harnan (65), Monaghan for (66).

DUBLIN - S Brennan; C O'Callaghan, J Madden, A Dunphy; C Crummey, A O'Neill, T Connolly; C Boland, L McMullen; J Hetherton, C Derwin, M Schutte; M Howard, E Dillon, O O'Rorke. Subs: E O'Donnell for Derwin (48), S Moran for Madden (56), D Sutcliffe for Schutte (60), M Sweeney for Howard (66).

REF - P Murphy (Carlow).

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