A devastating display by Galway’s inside forward line stunned Dublin in Tullamore today in their Leinster SHC quarter-final replay, ensuring the Tribesmen’s spot in the last four of this year’s provincial Championship and consigning Dublin to a potentially perilous qualifier and a fresh, but not unfamiliar, crisis of confidence.
Collectively, Cathal Mannion, Joe Canning and Jason Flynn scored 5-15, aided and abetted by Dublin’s unforgivable defensive naivety and a gusty first-half gale.
The tone was set early and brilliantly by Mannion - Man of the Match, and unanimously so.
After just 45 seconds, he summoned possession, weighed up the tentative approaches of his intended marker, Paul Schutte, scoped out the bottom corner of Alan Nolan’s net and almost zapped a sliotar-shaped hole on it.
Five minutes later, he repeated the feat. Almost identically.
Same space in which to manoeuvre. Same corner. Same result.
Mannion had to wait until just 11 minutes of the match were played before he completed his hat-trick, this time zooming by Schutte to confirm to Dublin - as if it was needed at this stage - that that day would only get uglier for them.
The accuracy and guile of Galway’s play was stunning.
But equally, they can’t but have been bemused and also delighted by the easy-access way Dublin were set up defensively.
With a gale-like howling directly into their face in O’Connor Park, Dublin went man on man with their Galway attacking torturers, leaving large swathes of room for Mannion, Canning and Flynn to amble onto long deliveries and execute their plays.
Canning, so off colour in last week’s drawn game as to be be practically black and white, showed a couple of early glimpses that the hand injury which blighted the previous performance had healed adequately but his real nadir was to come.
On 20 minutes, with Galway 3-10 to 0-1 ahead, Dublin decided to bring Liam Rushe back to centre-back and dropped Shane Durkin inside as sweeper.
Largely, it worked. And Galway scored just three points for the rest of the half.
But the damage was very definitely done. The horse had long since bolted.
The second half belonged to Canning, pilfering two goals as Galway demonstrated how to defend against the wind, piling bodies in and around their own goals and Dublin substitute, Eamon Dillon’s late strike didn’t even go so far as to qualify for consolation status.
SCORERS - Galway: C Mannion 3-3, J Canning 2-3, J Flynn 0-9 (7f), A Harte, A Smith, C Donnellan, P Brehony 0-1 each. Dublin: P Ryan 0-7 (3f, 3 ‘65), E Dillon 1-1, D O’Connell, D Treacy (1f) 0-2 each, S Lambert (f), R O’Dwyer, L Rushe, D Sutcliffe, M Schutte, C Boland 0-1 each.
GALWAY: C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, P Mannion; D Collins, I Tannian, Daithí Burke; J Cooney, A Harte; A Smith, C Donnellan, J Glynn; C Mannion, J Canning, J Flynn. Subs: David Burke for Cooney (45), P Brehony for Donnellan (46), F Moore for P Mannion (58), G Lally for Coen (58), D Glennon for Smith (64).
DUBLIN: A Nolan; C O’Callaghan, M Carton, P Schutte; C Crummy, S Lambert, C Keaney; S Durkin, D O’Connell; R O’Dwyer, L Rushe, D Sutcliffe; D O’Callaghan, M Schutte, D Treacy. Subs: P Ryan for Treacy (40), E Dillon for O’Dwyer (h-t), C Boland for O’Dwyer (46), J McCaffrey for Carton (53), C Dooley for Ryan (68).
REF: B Gavin (Offaly).