Friday 19 January 2018

Cyril Farrell: Galway's clinical display a nice change from the norm

'Guys like Cathal Mannion (pictured, right) and Conor Cooney are working much harder without the ball to everyone else’s benefit'. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
'Guys like Cathal Mannion (pictured, right) and Conor Cooney are working much harder without the ball to everyone else’s benefit'. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

What's weird is wonderful and it was great for business as usual not to be resumed by Galway's hurlers in O'Connor Park yesterday. The Galway of old were renowned for not fronting up after a big win, instead falling over the line, or dropping short. But they were workmanlike yesterday and did exactly what they had to do.

The blend looks right and when you're favourites to win an All-Ireland you should be brushing Dublin aside. Galway don't like being favourites but it's warranted despite much bigger fences awaiting them.

This group has the talent to do it and with Tipp beaten, there looks to be a vacuum. They might never get a better chance to go all the way.

They're maturing into a seasoned outfit and look settled, it's going to take a very good team to stop them.


Their attitude since the League final has impressed me, they've kept their heads down and last week's challenge game defeat to Clare was a nice wake-up call. If they can match their talent with work-rate they've a great chance and this was an ideal start.

They knuckled down to the task and got the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. A three-point advantage at the break would have annoyed them but their tackling was superb from start to finish.

Forwards working hard is often not a given in hurling but they emptied the tank. That's not something we could always have said but guys like Cathal Mannion and Conor Cooney are working much harder without the ball to everyone else's benefit.

A flick here, a tackle there and using their physicality (with the likes of Aidan Harte and Padraic Mannion winning an ocean of high ball) creates opportunities up front and while the radar was still a bit off - 2-28, 1-18 in the second-half, is some scoring.

Joe Canning was directing traffic from centre-forward, and often in a deep midfield position, while David Burke and Johnny Coen were energetic and spraying possession into a quality inside forward-line.

When they get decent ball, Conor Cooney, Jason Flynn and Conor Whelan will destroy any defence and Joe was feeding them with sumptuous stick passes. His eagle-eyed ball to Flynn really deserved a goal, it was sheer class and it's great that he doesn't have to do all the scoring anymore.

That burden is being shared while Joe is enjoying the freedom of the park. When he gets on the ball he uses all the skills at his disposal and makes the best move for the team. Not only can he score but his play-making skills have made the difference for Galway so far this season.

He's capable of putting the ball into space for a man to run onto and forwards know when he strikes it in, it's going to be coming hard and it gives the back no chance. And of course, if he gets it loose he can put it over at his ease from 80 or 90 yards.

He's leading the team up front and with David Burke on top at midfield and the half-backs settling into their positions, if they can hold sway in that middle third the full-forward line will get enough ball and be near unstoppable.

Even the subs that came on made a difference and there are 19 or 20 players now that can contribute. With Johnny Glynn and Cyril Donnellan to come back into the 26, it's only going to get more competitive.

It was a pity to see Paul Killeen - one of the success stories of the League - being carried off injured but John Hanbury's seamless transition is a sign of strength.

As for Dublin, it's near impossible when you're trying to emerge if you don't have everyone you should have.

The best players in the county must be on your county panel and no side could cope with the high-profile absentees they have, not even a Tipp or a Kilkenny.

It's sad because a lot of lads don't realise you only have a limited time playing inter-county hurling. If you're lucky you get 10 years and five of them you're going onto the scene, and the other five, unknown to yourself, you're going off it.

The likes of the Schuttes, Paul and Mark, Johnny McCaffrey and Peter Kelly are seasoned players and you need those battle-hardened guys in the white heat of championship. It's hard for a bunch of rookies to survive with Galway's physicality.

The Dubs didn't throw in the towel but Galway overpowered them and are in a good place.

Things are going well and there were probably more there yesterday than at the League final.

They got the business done and they'll look for that same consistency as focus shifts to Offaly on June 18.

Irish Independent

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