Galway cruise to impressive victory as disappointing Dublin fail to fire in Salthill
Galway 0-20 Dublin 1-11
GALWAY hurlers made their first statement of 2019 intent by cruising to victory over Dublin in Pearse Stadium this afternoon.
True, it proved an utterly underwhelming return to the west for Mattie Kenny, whose Sky Blue charges struggled for any consistent traction as they fell to their first defeat in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League.
The win propelled Galway above Dublin into second place in the table behind Waterford, with five points. In truth, there was never a shred of doubt about the outcome as the visitors made negligible use of the wind.
Having trailed by six at the interval, they only managed to 'draw' the second half after Joe Canning – going for goal from a 20m free with the game’s final act – blasted left of the upright.
Otherwise, Canning was faultless from placed balls, converting his first eight attempts from all distances. Yet the game’s standout player – not for the first time this season – was Cathal Mannion, who shot a sumptuous 0-4 from his new midfield posting.
Dublin arrived with a 100pc record to protect, but you’d never have guessed from their flawed first half efforts.
True, Galway had the elements in their favour; but wind alone couldn’t explain their greater sharpness and intensity in most sectors of the Salthill pitch.
Featuring six of the fifteen that started against Limerick in last year’s losing All-Ireland final, they led by 0-13 to 1-4 at the break but even that didn’t do justice to their dominance.
But for Danny Sutcliffe’s 15th minute goal - batted first-time to the net after Oisín O’Rorke had burned Jack Grealish in the right corner and hand-passed across into the inrushing Sutcliffe’s path – Dublin could have been facing an impossible second half task.
As it was, Kenny had already hauled off two forwards inside 26 minutes - David Treacy and Liam Rushe replacing Fergal Whitely and John Hetherton.
A further reflection of Dublin’s attacking travails? Only two of their players managed first half points from play – midfielder Riain McBride and Eamon Dillon, the latter’s effort arriving in stoppage-time.
In stark contrast, seven Tribesmen tallied points from play before the midpoint. One of them wasn’t Canning, but he was productive in so many other ways while his freetaking – five from five – was flawless.
SCORERS - Galway: J Canning 0-8f, C Mannion 0-4, S Bleahene 0-2, A Harte, S Loftus, N Burke, C Whelan, J Flynn, D Glennon 0-1 each. Dublin: R McBride (1 sideline cut), D Treacy (1 ‘65’, 2f) 0-3 each, D Sutcliffe 1-0, E Dillon 0-2, J Hetherton (f), D Burke, S Moran (f) 0-1 each.
GALWAY: F Flannery; J Grealish, R Burke, A Harte; K Hussey, P Mannion, G McInerney; C Mannion, S Loftus; N Burke, J Canning, C Whelan; S Bleahene, J Flynn, D Glennon. Subs: T Monaghan for Glennon (inj 55), P Killeen for Hussey (67), K Cooney for Flynn (69), S Kilduff for Loftus (73), J Mannion for Bleahene (73).
DUBLIN: A Nolan; C O’Callaghan, E O’Donnell, P Smyth; C Crummey, S Moran, S Barrett; D O’Connell, R McBride; J Malone, J Hetherton, F Whitely; D Sutcliffe, E Dillon, O O’Rorke. Subs: D Treacy for Whitely (21), L Rushe for Hetherton (26), D Burke for O’Connell (ht), D Gray for O’Callaghan (inj 38), S Treacy for O’Rorke (49).
REF: J Owens (Wexford).