Monday 10 December 2018

Whelan brace comes to rescue of under-par Galway

Galway 2-18 Laois 0-17

Whelan: Two goals. Photo: Sportsfile
Whelan: Two goals. Photo: Sportsfile

It's two wins from two for Galway in NHL Division 1B, but that's as positive as you could be about their current run of form.

The All-Ireland champions struggled to get the better of Antrim the week before, and they had plenty of trouble in seeing off Laois too.

Greg Lally of Galway receives a red card from referee Patrick Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile
Greg Lally of Galway receives a red card from referee Patrick Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile

The plucky Midlanders were ahead for much of the first half, and were only within a score of Galway for a lot of the second half too, only for a late rally to put some gloss on a below-par Galway performance.

Micheál Donoghue named eight of the All-Ireland winning team here, and he was indebted to Conor Whelan's talents as a goal-poacher, with his two first-half strikes being key to their victory.

While Galway may write their recent performances off as a bit of rustiness, it doesn't stack up, as Laois were hardly at the peak of their powers.

Missing a handful of key players themselves, they squandered numerous chances throughout the game, and with a bit more composure in front of goal, they could have beaten the Tribesmen.

Galway's Conor Whelan in action against Laois's Mark Dowling. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway's Conor Whelan in action against Laois's Mark Dowling. Photo: Sportsfile

Galway got the dream start, with Davy Glennon setting up Whelan for the opening goal in the third minute. Laois, with a strong wind at their backs, seemed unperturbed by the score, and responded by hitting four points in-a-row, three from captain Ross King, to take the lead.

Galway were struggling to find any fluency in their play, but hit a bit of a purple patch to rattle off three points in as many minutes to re-take the lead, Aidan Harte with the pick of the scores.

Laois again showed mettle to come back, with King hitting two frees either side of a Willie Dunphy effort, and they moved three clear, 0-10 to 1-4 late in the half.

Then came one of the big talking points, as a scuffle broke out in midfield and ended with Galway's Greg Lally being shown a straight red and Laois's James Ryan getting a second yellow.

Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue. Photo: Sportsfile

That break seemed to suit Galway and they scored 1-2 in stoppage time to lead by two at the break, 2-6 to 0-10.

With the wind in the second half, most in attendance expected Galway to pull away in the second half, but again Laois dug in, with the outstanding King bringing them back on level terms on two occasions.

Eventually, Galway pulled ahead by a few points, with Aidan Harte and Joseph Cooney impressing with their shooting, but it took four late points to rubberstamp the win for Galway.

SCORERS - Galway: C Whelan 2-1, J Cooney 0-4, P Mannion (3f), A Harte, C Cooney (1f) 0-3 each, D Glennon, S Linnane, J Coen, P Breheny 0-1 each. Laois: R King 0-12 (8f, 65), W Dunphy 0-2, E Killeen, M Kavanagh, E Rowland (f) 0-1 each.

Galway's Joseph Cooney in action against Laois' Eric Killeen. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway's Joseph Cooney in action against Laois' Eric Killeen. Photo: Sportsfile

LAOIS - E Rowland 7; L Cleere 6, L Bergin 7, D Hartnett 6; P Lawlor 6, M Whelan 8, E Killeen 8; J Ryan 6, P Purcell 7; A Corby 6, B Conroy 6, C Taylor 6; R King 9, N Foyle 6, W Dunphy 7. Reps: J Keyes 6 for Taylor (h-t), S Downey 6 for Corby (h-t), M Kavanagh 7 for Conroy (52), P McCane 6 for Foyle (57), J Phelan for Bergin (71, inj).

GALWAY - J Skehill 7; A Tuohy 6, J Hanbury 6, S Bannon 6; G Lally 5, P Mannion 8, A Harte 8; J Coen 7, P Breheny 6; S Linnane 6, J Cooney 7, C Mannion 6; C Whelan 7, C Cooney 7, D Glennon 7. Reps: B Concannon 6 for C Mannion (51), N Burke 6 for C Cooney (58), S Cooney 6 for Linnane (60).

REF - P Murphy (Carlow)

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