James Regan inspires Galway to Walsh Cup final victory over Dublin
GALWAY 1-22 DUBLIN 1-20
A goal and a point by James Regan earned the Galway player the man of the match award in a closely contested Bord na Mona Walsh Cup final at Croke Park last night.
The stadium was sparsely attended as the Bord na Mona Walsh Cup final got under way at 5.0 pm, but that did not concern the hurlers of Dublin and Galway.
These teams have built up a strong rivalry since the Westerners took up residence in Leinster, and despite fielding experimental teams to an extent, this was a game with silverware at stake and a chance to lay down a marker for the bigger battles to come.
Dublin and Galway are booked for a potentially critical Allianz Hurling League meeting on March 22, and on May 31, they will return to Croke Park for a full-on Leinster championship quarter-final clash.
The first half was lively and interesting, with Dublin gaining the ascendancy mid way through the 35 minutes plus two injury time minutes played, but a late surge by Galway narrowed the gap by the time referee Seamus Cleere of Kilkenny called a halt to phase one of the proceedings.
Most of the scoring was compiled by the respective free takers, Paul Ryan of Dublin and Jason Flynn of Galway.
Ryan ended the first half with 0-6 of Dublin’s 1-12, all but one point coming from frees.
Flynn’s accuracy contributed 0-7, all from frees to Galway’s 0-12.
The goal that separated the sides came from a close range score by Liam Rushe in the 19th minute.
Half time: Dublin 1-12; Galway 0-12.
Ten minutes into the second half, there was still three points between them. Peter Kelly from play and Ryan – who else – tacked on two points for the Dubs. Galway kept in touch with scores by Flynn from a free, and Joseph Cooney.
But all that changed as the Tribesmen hauled themselves into contention to take the lead after 55 minutes by 0-20 to Dublin’s 1-16, with Dean Higgins putting the cap on some sterling efforts for that lead point.
As the game built up to a tense climax, the sides swopped point for point, and were locked at 1-18 to 0-21 with three minutes of normal time left for play.
A Ryan score left the sides level at 1-17 to 0-20 with ten minutes to go, and then sub Danny Sutcliffe got on the score sheet to restore Dublin’s narrow lead on 61 minutes.
Then came a smash and grab by James Regan, who beat Dubs goalie Alan Nolan to the ball and kicked it home for a crucial goal. Regan added another late point to clinch the match despite a last ditch raid by the Dubs.