Galway 0-27 Dublin 0-21
Not every hurling championship game is a classic. This one was particularly forgettable but the fallout was significant nonetheless.
Galway kept their 2022 unbeaten championship record to secure a place against Kilkenny in the Leinster final on Saturday week.
But Dublin’s season is over. A win in Pearse Stadium would have guaranteed them a place in the final; a draw would have assured them of a spot in the All-Ireland series and had Wexford not beaten Kilkenny Mattie Kenny’s side would have survived as well.
But it all went horribly wrong as they were eliminated on scoring difference.
Their two-point win over Laois in the first round compared to Wexford’s 27-point victory came back to haunt them, though team manager Kenny disagreed.
“The first round is always tight. The bigger scoring difference comes in Round 2, 3, and 4.
“But even if we had won by more (against Laois), we wouldn’t have won by significantly more to have made a difference.
“Having six points after the first three games, and having won below in Wexford, it was in our own hands.
“We still had to beat Galway or Kilkenny to make a Leinster final. We would have been targeting to pick up points in one of the last two games. Ultimately, we failed to do that.”
The difference between the sides is easily explained. Galway’s scorer-in-chief Conor Cooney got able assistance from his colleagues who between them hit 0-14 with Conor Whelan’s five second-half points being the highlight.
In contrast, Dublin were far too dependent on Donal Burke. He rose magnificently to the challenge scoring 0-14 including 0-5 from play but his colleagues could only muster seven points between them.
Galway never looked like losing a third championship game on the spin to Dublin. They led by a point at the break despite playing against a strong breeze. But it was far from being a fluent performance as manager Henry Shefflin acknowledged.
“Our pattern of play wasn’t brilliant but I thought our work-rate was extremely high. That was very pleasing. Obviously Conor Whelan came to the fore in that second half and obviously helped to give us that bit of a cushion heading down the home straight.
“But to be fair to the lads they’ve done what was required every day. It has been an up and down kind of performance but the objective was to get out (of the group). Then the objective was to get to the Leinster final. We have achieved both which is great.”
Johnny Murphy’s strict interpretation of the rules – he awarded 24 frees in the first half and 37 in total – frustrated the attendance of 10,583. But in his defence he is probably the only referee who actually whistles for the majority of fouls.
“It never really flowed,” said Shefflin. “There was a lot of bodies around the middle third. When you break a line, and you could see Johnny’s (Murphy) hand going up. He was probably trying to play advantage but it never really materialised for either team. So that means it was called back.”
David Burke and Pádraic Mannion picked up ankle injuries while Brian Concannon came off because of a hamstring tightness according to Shefflin.
“I think every dressing-room at this stage is going to have those kind of knocks. It’s too early to call and we’ll just assess things as this week goes on.”
He side-stepped questions about plotting the downfall of his native county and the prospect of coming face-to-face again with his mentor Brian Cody in the wake of their frosty handshake after their round-robin game.
“I think every game takes on a life on its own. It is cliché but it is so true. I imagine there will be different personnel on the field and everything like that.
“It is a final but it is another game. Both teams will see how they go and prepare for it and the best team will win thereafter.”
After managing Dublin to a Leinster final appearance last season Mattie Kenny was given a one-year extension of his original three-year deal.
But exiting the championship before the end of May places the spotlight on his future. But his priority on Saturday night was the players’ welfare.
“The lads inside in the dressing-room, they are really gutted. Coming down here tonight to get a win was always going to be a difficult task because it is very difficult to beat Galway in Pearse Stadium,
“But we’d like if we were going back into the All-Ireland series. Unfortunately, it is not for us. I feel for our players in there. They are really disappointed,” said Kenny
Scorers – Galway: C Cooney 0-13 (12f); C Whelan 0-5; C Mannion 0-3; J Cooney, F Burke 0-2 (1 sideline) each; B Concannon, C Fahy 0-1 each. Dublin: D Burke 0-14 (9f); R McBride 0-2; C Burke, C Crummey, D Sutcliffe, E Dillon, P Crummey 0-1 each.
Galway – E Murphy 7; P Mannion 7, Dáithí Burke 7, J Grealish 7; F Burke 7, G McInerney 7, D Morrissey 6; David Burke 7, T Monaghan 7; D Fahy 6, C Cooney 8 J Cooney 7; B Concannon 6, C Whelan 8, C Mannion 7. Subs: J Flynn 6 for Fahy (57), J Coen 6 for Monaghan (60), R Glennon 6 for David Burke (62), T Killeen for P Mannion (68), E Niland for Concannon (69).
Dublin – S Brennan 8; J Bellew 6, E O’Donnell 6, C O’Callaghan 7; D Gray 6, P Smyth 6, A Dunphy 6; C Crummey 7, J Madden 6; D Burke 9, R McBride 7, C Burke 7; F Whitely 6, E Dillon 7, D Sutcliffe 6. Subs: R Hayes 6 for Madden (15), Madden for Dunphy (40), P Crummey 6 for Sutcliffe (56), C Currie 6 for Whitley (56), D Ryan for Gray (61).
Ref – J Murphy (Limerick).