Allianz Hurling League Division 1A: Wexford 0-15 Galway 0-23
Galway provided all the hurling in the second half to ease their way to a comfortable eight-point victory over Wexford in a disappointing league-opener at Chadwicks Wexford Park.
In the process the Westerners also lifted the Walsh Cup, the final of which doubled up with this league encounter, but there was still evidence that considerable improvement is needed if they hope to add further silverware this season.
Both sides were short a number of key players even before Galway were further depleted by the absences of Joseph Cooney and Kevin Cooney, who missed the game owing to a family bereavement.
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Galway started uncertainly but their second-half dominance was indisputable. Such was their control that the winning margin should have been greater.
Both sides had gone toe to toe in the opening minutes but the finishing was wayward. After Donal Reck free and Donal O’Shea exchanged points, Wexford hit three unanswered points through Conor McDonald, free, Charlie McGuckin and Mikie Dwyer to lead 0-4 to 0-1 after ten minutes.
Wexford were still leading 0-6 to 0-4 when Conor Devitt was penalised for a foul on Conor Whelan, but Even Niland saw his resulting penalty saved by keeper Mark Fanning, with Jason Flynn pointing following a loose clearance.
Very little was to separate the sides for the remainder of the half with Evan Niland pointed frees keeping Galway very much in contention, while Cathal Dunbar, two, Simon Donohoe and Kevin Foley responded with Wexford points which left the sides level 0-1 each at the interval.
Once Galway hit a 0-13 to 0-11 lead with points from Niland and sub Brian Concannon, they went on to control the second period as Niland continued to show his accuracy from placed balls.
Still leading 0-13 to 0-10 after fifty minutes, Galway raised the tempo as Padraig Mannon, Sean Linnane and Geariod McInerney exerted their influence. They soon silenced the home supporters in a crowd 8,200, stretching their advantage thanks to points by Nilan, Sean Linnane and Jason Flynn.
Wexford never looked like recovering, and Galway flowed through the gears, cutting gaping holes in the home defence with sub Liam Collins pointing after a sweeping move, when he should have goaled, batting the cross over the bar from a few metres.
The contest petered out in the final quarter, and spectators started to file away. After full-time, Galway manager Henry Shefflin no doubt left the ground a happy man.
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B: Tipperary 2-32 Laois 0-18
Tipperary cruised to an opening round win in the National Hurling League as they put Laois to the sword at FBD Semple Stadium on Saturday evening.
With Ballingarry clubmen Liam Cahill and William Maher in their first league games in charge of their respective teams, the home side took control early on, helped by a 12th-minute Seamus Kennedy goal.
With the evergreen Patrick Maher pulling the strings from full forward, newcomers Gearoid O’Connor, Sean Ryan, and Cian O’Dwyer impressed, as did John McGrath in his first start after 10 months out through injury, as Tipp took a commanding 1-17 to 0-7 lead to the break with O’Connor top-scoring with eight points in the opening half.
The game lost must of its shape in the second half with the destination of the two league points determined but Laois stuck at it with Tomas Keyes impressing at midfield with four points from play, while their subs bench was also impactful, contributing four points. However, Tipp’s bench added 1-5 with sub Jake Morris scoring their second goal in injury time, one of 14 different scorers in what was an easy win for the Premier County.
TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett (0-1), M Breen, J Ryan; B O’Mara, R Maher (0-3, 1f), B McGrath (0-1); N McGrath (0-1), C Stakelum (0-3); S Kennedy (1-1), G O’Connor (0-11, 0-6f, 0-1 65), C O’Dwyer (0-2); J McGrath (0-2), P Maher, S Ryan (0-2). Subs: J Campion (0-1) for Stakelum (38 inj); M Kehoe (0-1) for P Maher (51); J Morris (1-2) for O’Dwyer (51); P Cadell for N McGrath (60); C Bowe (0-1) for J McGrath (62).
LAOIS: E Rowland; D Harnett, P Delaney, P Dunne; J Kelly, R Mullaney (0-1), F Fennell (0-1); A Corby, T Keyes (0-4); A Dunphy, W Dunphy, J Keyes (0-2); S Maher, M Phelan, PJ Scully (0-6, 5f). Subs: R King (0-1) for W Dunphy (33 inj); P Purcell (0-1) for A Dunphy (HT); J Duggan (0-1) for Phelan (HT); I Shanahan for Corby (58); L Senior (0-1) for Maher (60).
Referee: J Murphy (Limerick)
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B: Antrim 0-15 Kilkenny 1-18
Derek Lyng’s first League game in charge of Kilkenny yielded two points as they came through difficult conditions and a stern Antrim challenge at Corrigan Park on Saturday.
Billy Drennan top-scored with 1-8 for the Cats and his goal midway through the opening half proved to be vital as it gave the Noresiders a cushion that they managed to defend. They then tagged on late points to put a bit of a gloss on their trip to Belfast.
It was a fairly even start with the sides locked at 0-3 apiece 10 minutes in, but Kilkenny seemed more menacing in attack despite a swirling wind in their faces.
Antrim goalkeeper Ryan Elliott made smart stops from Martin Keoghan and Cian Kenny but could do nothing on 14 minutes as Walter Walsh rose above Joe Maskey to fetch and popped to Drennan who burst through on the overlap and buried a shot into the net.
The hosts were struggling to get going in attack but did put some decent phases together with Conal Bohill and Niall McKenna finishing good moves, while Cunning tapped over the frees. But Kilkenny were that bit more fluid and led 1-10 to 0-9 at the half, with Drennan knocking over the frees, while Walsh and Martin Keoghan found their range.
Conditions deteriorated at the break with rain pouring and wind swirling, yet Kilkenny made a decent start with a pair of Drennan scores cancelling out an early Cunning free.
Antrim began to enjoy a good spell but managed just three points as the wind began to play havoc with shots.
They got to within two on a couple of occasions and that was the main with five to play, but Kilkenny just managed to find the answers and they finished well with Keoghan (two), Drennan and Billy Ryan sealing the win.
ANTRIM: R Elliott; P Burke (0-1), R McGarry, N O’Connor; G Walsh, E Campbell, C Bohill (0-1); M Bradley, J Maskey; N McKenna (0-2), K Molloy (0-1), J McNaughton (0-1); C Cunning (0-8, all frees), N McManus (0-1), E O’Neill. Subs: P Duffin for N O’Connor (HT), S Elliott for E O’Neill (HT), C Johnston for J Maskey (43), P Boyle for K Molloy (65).
KILKENNY: A Tallis (0-1 free); M Butler, H Lawlor, N Rowe; C Buckley, P Walsh, D Blanchfield; P Deegan (0-1), J Donnelly (0-1); W Walsh (0-1), C Kenny, P Cody (0-2); B Drennan (1-8, 0-7 frees), M Keoghan (0-3), B Ryan (0-1). Subs: S Murphy for P Cody (HT), T Phelan cor C Kenny (63), A Murphy for W Walsh (68), G Dunne for J Donnelly (70+4).
Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin)