Early silverware and a winning start to their league campaign made it a profitable journey south east for Henry Shefflin’s Galway on Saturday. They overpowered hosts Wexford with a commanding second-half performance in a match that doubled up as the Walsh Cup final.
Ten unanswered points after Wexford edged into a 0-11 to 0-10 lead early in the second half settled the contest. It had been closely contested until then and was tied at 0-10 apiece at the interval. Shefflin, who made three changes at half-time, was encouraged by the team’s lift after the break.
“We just never really got going in the first half. A few of the lads responded very well, and I suppose the changes and whole dynamic of the team shifted,” he said after the 0-23 to 0-15 win.
“There was a bit of a breeze there; it definitely had an influence. Happy with the second half, but plenty to work on.”
Brian Concannon – one of the three introduced – had an immediate impact and Galway took over, pinning Wexford into their own half and running off a string of scores.
Concannon set up a goal chance for Jason Flynn, which he fluffed, and another interval replacement, Ronan Murphy, drew a save out of Mark Fanning, inside 10 minutes of the restart.
Playing with the breeze, Galway were noticeably sharper throughout the field.
Gearóid McInerney cut a powerful figure at full-back, with Conor McDonald held scoreless from play and offering no goal threat.
In the first half, Wexford laid the foundation for their own downfall with poor shooting – 10 wides and another four attempts short – while also seeing a goal chance for Kevin Foley well stopped by Éanna Murphy.
They led 0-4 to 0-1 after 10 minutes but were fortunate not to concede a goal when Evan Niland’s penalty was saved by Fanning.
Niland scored 0-10 from placed balls, while Conor Whelan, who collected the cup afterwards, led the attack with a customary spring.
League debutante Liam Collins came off the bench in the second half to hit two scores. Galway were without their St Thomas’ players, and the three Cooney brothers withdrew due to a family bereavement.
Darragh Egan enjoyed five straight wins in his first season as Wexford manager, but he acknowledged that they were a clear second best.
“I’d say lads lost a bit of heart going in at half-time that it was a drawn game, we had owned the ball for much of the first half. If you concede 10 points in a row at this level, you are going to be hurt badly, and it did hurt us badly in the second half,” he said.
Wexford’s shooting was jittery from early on. Charlie McGuckin still ended up with three points, and one of their scores saw some delightful play when Mikie Dwyer’s reverse hand-pass sent Simon Donohoe through for a white flag.
Liam Ryan hit a belter from distance and Cathal Dunbar had moments, but their misses were compounded by a tendency to commit petty fouls.
Shefflin, meanwhile, was already thinking of the next date.
“We have eight days to prepare for Cork, which will be a serious step up. The real step-up will be April 22 when Wexford come to town, to Pearse Stadium (in the Leinster championship),” he said.