Ryan's late strike leaves Dubs reeling
Galway 2-11 Dublin 0-14
DUBLIN left Parnell Park yesterday still checking their pockets and wondering how they had been picked right at the end.
It was all square as the game ticked through the 72nd minute, but just when it looked as if Dublin would extend their unbeaten run to five league games, Galway pounced for the match-winning goal.
The finish was provided by Eanna Ryan, leaving Dublin bitterly disappointed at having lost a game where they enjoyed much more possession than their rivals.
They also created far more chances but didn't convert enough them into scores. Indeed, the wides differential -- Dublin 19, Galway 7 -- explains why the prize eventually went west.
Conal Keaney had an especially frustrating afternoon with his shooting -- both from frees and open play -- missing the target on several occasions.
In contrast, Galway were far more economical and they needed to be on a day when, similar to the previous outing against Kilkenny, they started very slowly.
Dublin were much slicker from the off and were five points ahead after 10 minutes. Indeed, Galway's first score didn't come until the 17th minute and they were again five points down (0-7 to 0-2) after 20 minutes.
Dublin should have been further ahead. They were much quicker to the breaking ball, more reliable with their passing and with lethargic Galway finding it very difficult to impose themselves on the game, the hosts seemed set to continue their excellent run.
However, just as Galway had done against Kilkenny, they gradually asserted themselves and hit a string of points in the final 12 minutes of the first half to trail by one (0-9 to 0-8) at the interval.
Frankly, it was more than deserved. Dublin's 10 first-half wides was a worrying statistic to take to the dressing-room as it enabled Galway to be in a position which their overall game hadn't warranted.
And when Cyril Donnellan raced through the Dublin defence before firing past Gary Maguire in the 43rd minute, it put Galway three points ahead and raised question marks about the home side's resolve in increasingly difficult circumstances.
In fairness, Dublin delivered on that front but failed to solve the shooting problem as they added a further nine misses to their tally in the second half.
On the plus side, Dublin's workrate remained consistently high and enabled them to draw level with points from Conor McCormack, Keaney and impressive sub Paul Ryan.
Dublin had a goalscoring opportunity in the 47th minute when they were awarded a penalty, but Keaney's drive was blocked by the Galway defence.
Galway twice led on the home stretch but were pegged back each time. And when David Burke missed a scoreable free in the 71st minute, Dublin would have felt they would get at least a draw.
"It had a draw written all over it at that stage but unfortunately we got caught for that goal right at the end. It's disappointing but we'll take the positive things with us and work on them," said Dublin manager Anthony Daly.
They included a very high work ethic and a sense of togetherness which Galway certainly couldn't match for the first 20 minutes.
"Dublin's tackling game (was) very effective -- they get a lot of men around the ball and make it very difficult for opponents," said Galway centre-back Tony Og Regan, who turned in another solid performance.
Galway manager John McIntyre admitted that Dublin were unlucky not to take something from the game.
"We were five points down in the first half and in trouble," he said.
"But when we started being more competitive, the things that were happening easily for Dublin early on became more difficult. And of course Dublin didn't help themselves with all those wides.
"We didn't play well but we hung on in there. I thought at the end that we knew how to win the game that bit better than Dublin."
The setback presents Dublin with a new type of challenge as they look ahead to their final two league games against Kilkenny and Cork, but Daly is confident that the reaction will be positive.
It wasn't, after all, as if they had been outclassed by a Galway side that lost corner-back David Collins to injury after just three minutes.
"We're happy enough with the performance but not the result," said Daly. "We matched Galway toe to toe and created more chances that they did.
"We came here to perform and we did that but we could have a put a bit more polish on it. We've got to get the defeat out of our system very quickly and be right for Kilkenny next Saturday."
A win would see Dublin leapfrog Kilkenny in the table so their prospects of reaching the league final for the first time since 1946 remain in their own hands.
However, they will need to be a whole lot more clinical -- not just against Kilkenny but later in the year too -- if they are to make the sort of progress they have been hinting at for quite some time.
As for Galway, they top the table with games against Tipperary and Waterford to come.
McIntyre made a special appeal to Galway supporters to turn out in Pearse Stadium next Sunday for the clash with Tipperary, where a win for his squad would probably clinch a place in the final.
"This is the last chance Galway supporters will get to see their side on home turf this year. The All-Ireland champions are riding into town so there's no reason that we couldn't get up to 15,000 if people decide to come out and give the team the support it deserves," he said.
Man of the Match: Joe Boland (Dublin)
Scorers -- Galway: G Farragher 0-5 (4f, 1 s-l), E Ryan, C Donnellan 1-1 each, A Callanan 0-2, J Cooney, D Burke 0-1 each. Dublin: C McCormack, C Keaney (3f), D Plunkett , P Ryan (1f) 0-3 each, L Rushe, R O'Dwyer 0-1 each.
Galway -- C Callanan 6; D Joyce 7, C O'Donovan 7, D Collins; D Barry 6, T Og Regan 7, A Cullinane 5; D Burke 7, G Farragher 6; E Ryan 7, A Smith 6, C Donnellan 7; J Gantley 5, J Cooney 6, A Callanan 7. Subs: G O'Halloran 7 for Collins (3), N Healy 5 for Gantley (52), J Lee 6 for Cullinane (56), J Coen 6 for Farragher (58).
Dublin -- G Maguire 7; N Corcoran 7, T Brady 7, R Treanor 5; P Schutte 6, J Boland 7, S Durkan 6; J McCaffrey 7, L Rushe 6; D Plunkett 7, C Keaney 6, C McCormack 7; D O'Callaghan 7, R O'Dwyer 6, P Carton 5. Subs: O Gough 7 for Treanor (27), P Ryan 7 for McCormack (49), D O'Dwyer 6 for Carton (63), S Ryan for Rushe (69), R Walsh for Durkan (71).
Ref --D Kirwan (Cork).