Galway sweat on Joe Canning, Gearóid McInerney and Conor Whelan for Clare replay
Galway held on to their All-Ireland SHC crown by the skin of their teeth, but they resembled the walking wounded at the end of a pulsating draw, 1-30 apiece, with Clare after extra-time in Croke Park this evening.
Daithí Burke clearly wasn’t 100pc after picking up an ankle injury in training earlier this week with Tribe boss Micheál Donoghue describing the rumour mill around the Turloughmore defender as a “rolling stone that kept on rolling”.
The three-time All-Star battled gamely to the finish and played a key role in Johnny Coen’s late point to put Galway ahead in injury time of extra-time before Jason McCarthy’s leveller, but he wasn’t his usual combatative self as he came off second best in an intriguing duel with Clare powerhouse John Conlon, who finished with four points from play.
Much has been said of Burke and Gearóid McInerney providing the solidity needed in the spine of the Galway defence for the Tribesmen to claim Liam MacCarthy after a 29-year wait, but McInerney hobbled off in the middle of the second half with what looked like a calf injury.
Galway missed McInerney’s driving presence in the half-back line in the latter stages and the Oranmore Maree defender faces a race against time with just eight days to prepare for the replay in Thurles next Sunday (2.0).
Donoghue explained immediately after the game that it was “too soon” to assess the severity of the injury while he also faces an anxious wait on Hurler of the Year Joe Canning and Young Hurler of the Year Conor Whelan.
Canning fell heavily on his knee late in the game and was called ashore in extra-time as the Portumna ace was unable to continue while Whelan, who fired over three exquisite points and took the game to the Banner throughout, also came off at half time of extra-time.
Galway had been lucky as they skated through the round-robin stages of the Leinster round-robin stages unscathed, but they face a difficult week of re-cooperation as all eyes turn to the physio’s table.
The impact of their substitute bench has been lauded over the past 18 months with the likes of Niall Burke and Jason Flynn helping them over the line when sprung from the bench, but Donoghue may he forced to put them in from the start the next day.
McInerney’s injury looked the most serious of the three mentioned but with such little time to recover, they all face a race to make it to Semple Stadium as they look to book their All-Ireland final place and keep dreams of back-to-back titles alive.
Galway already went to Thurles this year and got over Kilkenny at the second attempt but they’ll need to go to the well again next Sunday. And if tonight’s barnburner is anything to go by, the replay certainly won’t disappoint.