Dubs sent 'back to drawing board' as Canning delivers
ANTHONY Cunningham's firm of Galway removal men collected Dublin's goods and chattels in Portlaoise on Saturday and delivered them to an inferior Division 1B address for 2013.
The driver of the juggernaut that transported the Dubs to their new status in the National Hurling League was Joe Canning, and he had no need for Sat Nav because the effervescent Damien Hayes unerringly provided the right directions throughout.
Canning and Hayes, along with sub Jonathan Glynn, Niall Burke, David Burke and goalkeeper Fergal Flannery, were the stand-out players for Galway in a very satisfactory team performance.
Predatory Canning grabbed 2-7, with 1-6 coming from frees, while Hayes used all his guile and experience to prompt wave after wave of Galway attacks in a storming second half for the Tribesmen.
And at the other end, Flannery, third choice at the start of the league and only getting his chance because of injuries to James Skehill and Jamie Ryan, made some important blocks to deny Dublin goals.
He was ably assisted by his primary defenders Niall Donoghue, Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore and Tony Og Regan.
Dublin boss Anthony Daly was left wondering where it had all gone wrong.
The Dubs looked the better team in the first half, yet they couldn't quite rattle Galway, who were never more than two points in arrears up to the 24th minute, when Canning the punisher struck his side's first goal from a 20-metre free. Canning's effort was hit low and hard and somehow his daisy-cutter skipped past goalkeeper Gary Maguire and four defenders on the goal-line.
At a stroke Galway were 1-6 to 0-8 ahead, and they went into half-time leading by 1-11 to 0-13.
The first 11 minutes of the second half were fairly evenly contested, and a 46th-minute point from a free by Paul Ryan left Dublin one adrift at 0-16 to Galway's 1-14.
Within five minutes, all was changed, changed utterly.
A surging run and a point by Moore, followed by a Canning score from play and finally, Galway's second goal in the 51st minute, had the Dubs on the slippery slope to relegation.
Dublin full-back Peter Kelly was sleepwalking as he observed a long clearance from the Galway half send the sliotar downfield.
Hayes chased what looked a lost cause, but it wasn't, because by the time Kelly woke up to the danger, the Galway corner-forward was on him and won possession to break forward and cross for Canning to smash the sliotar into the net.
At 2-16 to 0-16, the alarm bells were ringing loudly, but it got worse for the Dubs when Davy Glennon scored Galway's third goal in the 55th minute, effectively putting the game out of reach at 3-17 to 0-17.
Further confirmation that the men in maroon were the bosses of the sandy sward that was the O'Moore Park playing surface came after 65 minutes.
Dublin goalie Maguire did well to parry a close-range shot by Burke, but the Galway midfielder followed up to hammer in the fourth goal.
Dublin kept trying to the end, but it was a hopeless cause for most of that second half.
Paul Ryan's accuracy from placed balls was their main scoring outlet, with the Ballyboden St Enda's man getting 0-11 in total, only two of them from play. Ryan scored two spectacular points from play, and some of the Dublin scores, particularly by Martin Quilty, Conor McCormack and Johnny McCaffrey, were out of the top drawer.
Daly now has just six weeks to get his side ready for their opening championship clash against the winners of Laois v Carlow on June 2. Galway are in action the following day against either Westmeath or Antrim.
"We coughed up a couple of balls and got punished for them. At the other end their backs were probably that bit stickier and tougher in the conditions," said Daly.
"Fair play to them, they won it deservedly. No arguments.
"It's a fine line. We should have killed it off the last day and we didn't. Six days later we're punished for it. We'll just go back to the drawing board.
"It was a tight league. We go down at the end of it, but up to today our scoring average was the very same as it was last year against all the big teams. Sometimes it goes like that. It just got away from us a little bit and Galway punished us."
Daly, who wasn't too pleased with referee Barry Kelly in the drawn game, had no complaints with Saturday's official John Sexton of Cork, who he said "had a great game".
Galway manager Cunningham won't go booking All-Ireland final tickets for his family and friends on the strength of this victory, but he was satisfied with the result.
"The guys wanted to play well. It gives us a good bit of confidence going into the championship," said Cunningham.
"We've done well in the league, albeit with a poor performance against Kilkenny. We've secured our position in Division 1A. It's a very difficult league and these guys will learn from today and drive on from it."
Man of the Match: Joe Canning (Galway)
Scorers -- Galway: J Canning 2-7 (1-6f), N Burke 0-4, D Burke 1-3, D Glennon 1-2, C Donnellan 0-2, I Tannian, J Coen, D Hayes 0-1 each. Dublin: P Ryan 0-11 (7f, 2 '65s'), M Quilty 0-3, C McCormack 0-2, J Boland, J McCaffrey, D Treacy 0-1 each.
Galway -- F Flannery 8; K Hynes 7, D Collins 7, J Coen 7; N Donoghue 7, F Moore 7, T Og Regan 7; D Burke 7, I Tannian 7; A Smith 6, N Burke 7, C Donnellan 7; D Hayes 8, J Canning 8, D Glennon 7. Subs: J Glynn 7 for A Smith (23), J Regan 6 for C Donnellan (61), B Flaherty for N Donoghue (67), C Cooney for N Burke (69).
Dublin -- G Maguire 6; N Corcoran 6, P Kelly 6, P Schutte 6; M Carton 6, J Boland 6, S Durkin 6; J McCaffrey 7, M Quilty 7; C McCormack 6, D Treacy 6, L Rushe 6; D Sutcliffe 6, R O'Carroll 6, P Ryan 8. Subs: S Lambert 6 for D Treacy (45), N McMorrow 6 for R O'Carroll (50), E Dillon 6 for M Quilty (57), R Treanor for P Schutte (60), D Plunkett for P Ryan (64).
Ref -- J Sexton (Cork).