Dublin miss chance to take major scalp
Galway can count themselves lucky to get away with a 4-point winning margin over Dublin at Ballinasloe before a crowd of about 1,500 yesterday.
And, on reflection, victory could easily have gone to the Dubliners, who will rue the eight wides they had in the opening half, despite having wind assistance.
Galway led by 2-10 to 1-9 at half-time and tacked on another four points in the opening five minutes after the interval.
For the following 20 minutes the winners were held scoreless as they tried an assortment of changes in the attack which only seemed to confuse the players themselves.
Dublin on the other hand threw discretion to the wind. Goalie McLoughlin inspired his team mates with some great saves, particularly one point blank shot from Joe Cooney in the 73rd minute, and his penetrating clearances gave the Galway defence an unhappy time.
After 60 minutes only three points separated the sides. Joe Cooney was keeping the home side's spirits alive with some astute passing, but the Dubs were growing in confidence, although they were finding it hard to register scores.
A minute from time, their leading marksman, Tomas McGrane saw his penalty attempt for a goal blocked by debutant Declan O'Brien, to dash the visitors' hopes of possibly sharing the points.
Galway manager Matty Murphy lashed his team afterwards for failing to finish off Dublin when they were seven points ahead after five minutes of the second half. He was also critical of his defence for conceding so many scores but expected the tribesmen to show considerable improvement when the Athenry players are again available for selection after their All Ireland club final on St Patrick's Day.
A feature of the game was the huge puckouts by both goalies, with the Dublin custodian Brendan McLoughlin being the busier on the day and could hardly be blamed for the two shots that beat him.
Galway, who were first to score when Rory Gantley pointed, had their first goal in the sixth minute when Fergal Healy finished off a great move started by Mark Kerins and continued by Ollie Canning. Galway's second goal came from Joe Cooney. Dublin's goal came by way of the opportunist Ciaran Brady who was on hand to take a pass from Sean Duignan who had rounded Healy in a race goalwards.
GALWAY: K Boyle; L Hodgins, M Healy, C Moore; D O'Brien, N Larkin, V Maher; R Gantley (0-10, 9 frees), P Walsh; R Kerins, M Kerins, J Cooney (1-1); O Canning (0-2), O Fahy (0-1), F Healy (1-4). Sub: D Tierney for Larkin.
DUBLIN: B McLoughlin; J Finnegan, S Power, D McCormack; L Walsh, S Perkins, L O'Donoghue; M Fitzsimons (0-1), D McInerney; D Henry (0-2), C Brady (1-1), S Ryan; T McGrane (0-12, 11 frees), S Duignan, K Flynn. Subs: D Spain for Finnegan; D McLoughlin for McCormack; D McMullen for Walsh; G Ennis (0-1) for Fitzsimons.
Referee: S Roche (Tipperary).