Canning limps off as Galway show class
Galway 1-23 Wexford 0-17
The pattern was set within 90 seconds. Wing back Padraic Mannion raced unchallenged down the left flank of the Wexford rearguard and though Mark Fanning brilliantly stopped his effort, Conor Whelan swooped the rebound into the corner of the net.
Wexford never recovered. It was 1-2 to no score from four minutes as Conor Cooney threatened to carry out a one man demolition job on the Wexford rearguard.
Wexford's calculated gamble to play against the breeze in the first half backfired badly in front of 14,565 expectant fans. They never really got off the ground.
By half-time Galway were six clear (1-12; 0-9) and the poverty of Wexford's effort in the second half was underlined by the fact that they only managed two points from play. Fans were heading for the exits well before the final whistle.
Galway's only concern was the sight of Joe Canning limping off in injury time after he got on a bang on the knee. He was the team's top scorer with 0-12 including two beautifully stuck sidelines. He left the ground with an ice pack strapped on the knee but there was no major concern in the Galway camp. From a Galway perspective, next Saturday's round four game against Dublin in Salthill is a dead rubber. The All-Ireland champions are guaranteed a place in the Leinster final - their fourth appearance in a row and their seventh in this decade.
All is not lost for Wexford - who are guaranteed a place in the last six of the All-Ireland series regardless of how they fare against Kilkenny in Nowlan Park next Saturday night.
A draw against the Cats will be enough to guarantee them a provincial final spot due to their superior scoring difference. But it will be their fourth game on the spin while Kilkenny have a chance to recharge their batteries this weekend.
Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald acknowledged that Galway were the better team but he blamed the schedule which obliged his side to play three games on successive weekends.
"There is no doubt that they were the better team. I have no doubt about that. The thing I'm disappointed about is that that wasn't Wexford. We were flat today I dread to think how we're going to be next week (against Kilkenny). I know they were very powerful and they're right up there, but I believe we're better than that."
Wexford couldn't cope with Galway's power and the home side never seriously threatened James Skehill's goal. When Wexford did create scoring chances they invariably snatched at them and hit 14 wides - four more than Galway.
Galway boss Micheal Donoghue believes the team's consistency is down to the players who have taken a lot of confidence from last year's successes.
"It is probably only now that we are seeing that come across in our play. But we are under no illusions that there are going to be tougher tests ahead. Wexford are still going to have a massive say in this championship, as are Kilkenny and the Munster teams. We are just taking it one game at a time, trying to get back to business end of championship.
"Last year, there was perceived pressure on us because we were favourites from a long way out. But we don't pay any heed to that, these guys are just hungry for success. We are just taking it one game at a time, and that stood to us," he said.
Jonathan Glynn was a late replacement in Galway's full-forward line for Brian Concannon and they had corner-back Adrian Tuohy dismissed in injury time after he picked up a second booking.
Indeed, the entire Galway full-back line were on yellow cards by half-time but Wexford never looked liked exploiting that in a low-key second half.
But the take home message from Innovate Wexford Park wasn't particularly new - Galway are the team to beat in championship 2018.
Scorers - Galway: J Canning 0-12 (8f, 2 s/l), C Whelan 1-2, C Cooney 0-4, N Burke and D Burke 0-2 each, J Flynn (1f) 0-1. Wexford: R O'Connor 0-12 (10f), P Morris and A Nolan 0-2 each, P Foley 0-1.
Galway: J Skehill; A Tuohy, D Burke, J Hanbury; P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte; J Coen, D Burke; C Mannion, J Cannning, J Cooney; C Whelan, J Glynn, C Cooney. Subs: J Flynn for J Glynn (54), N Burke for J Cooney (58), B Concannon for C Mannion (66), S Linnane for Hanbury (68), D Glennon for Canning (70).
Wexford: M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, S Donohoe; P Foley, M O'Hanlon, D O'Keeffe; K Foley, A Nolan; L Chin, S Murphy, J O'Connor; P Morris, R O 'Connor, C McDonald. Subs: Conor Firman for Donohue (h-t), L Og McGovern for J O'Connor (48), H Kehoe for K Foley (51),
Referee: J Murphy (Limerick).
Sunday Indo Sport