Dublin manage elements and extra man to perfection and eliminate Galway

Micheál Donoghue’s team in Leinster final, as Henry Shefflin ponders his future

Leinster SHC Round 5: Galway 1-24 Dublin 2-27

Dublin came west and ended the season for their hosts, Galway. Showing a clever appreciation of the elements, in this case the familiar Salthill breeze and having just the game plan to exploit the sending off of David Burke, they surged to the front after half-time and ran out convincing winners.

They were led by Dónal Burke, who finished with 1-10, 1-5 from play, and Chris Crummey, roaming around from wing back and shooting four from play.

It was a wild match, the scoreboard flickering like the digits on a stopwatch. Twenty-six players scored – 14 Dublin and 12 from Galway. Ball retention was at times incontinent on both sides with ball dropped or turned over or fumbled but Dublin eventually settled and pulled away.

The result sends them into the Leinster final where they will face Kilkenny.


For Galway manager Henry Shefflin, the outcome came as a grim conclusion to his third year in charge, still without any silverware and he hinted at a long hard period of reflection.

“Well, it’s something after three years that I was always going to reassess, and that will be no different now. But I think today is not the day for that, I’m absolutely heartbroken because you put so much into this and we’ve thrown everything at it.

“I don’t know, it could be the end of the road for a few of us. But what we said in the dressingroom was that we’d take a few days and don’t make a rash decision, and that’s the only logical thing.”

His Dublin counterpart Micheál Donoghue, the last man to manage Galway to an All-Ireland, was characteristically low-key in emphasising the development of his young team, who last week lost to Kilkenny by a late goal.

“I would have said last week that I was really happy with the trajectory of the group. We’re no different to any other team. It’s confidence and belief and we’ve said this from the outset that they’re a brilliant group to work with, a really solid bunch of lads and a seriously talented group.

“I know people will talk about the big performance and yes, it was but it was the trajectory we’re on and it carried through today.”

Goals kept Dublin afloat against a typically gusty Pearse Stadium wind, estimated by television co-commentator Michael Duignan to rank highly on the GAA Richter scale as “a 10-point wind”.

Gavin Lee put Galway one up within seven seconds but it only took another half a minute for Brian Hayes to send Seán Currie in on goal. His shot was partly blocked by Darach Fahy but the Dublin forward followed up to make no mistake the second time.

Galway appeared to have steadied and had established a four-point lead, 0-9 to 1-1 but the match lurched in the 17th minute when David Burke launched a high tackle on Fergal Whiteley as a result of which Galway’s All-Ireland winning captain was red-carded.

Shefflin was critical of the decision – he felt the foul deserved no more than a yellow – and Donoghue’s reaction in the aftermath but the Dublin manager limited himself to a terse comment when asked about the impact of the sending-off.

“It had an effect but that was [referee] Colm Lyons’s decision.”

Buoyed by the extra man, Dublin had equalised within seven minutes, outscoring their opponents by 0-6 to 0-2.

Helped by Evan Niland’s excellent free taking, Galway didn’t go quietly but piled on the points to give themselves a slender lead at half-time, 0-19 to 2-11 – the goal squeezed into the net by Burke after a precision pass from Dara Purcell.

Dublin had played the wind intelligently, foregoing shots from distance and running everything through the middle where the pace of centrefielder Brian Hayes left Galway defenders as shaken as if he had triggered a sonic boom. The two goals bankrolled the first half played against the wind.

After the break, their emphasis shifted and free to have a go, they unleased points from everywhere. Crummey, Ronan Hayes, Purcell, Danny Sutcliffe and a couple of dead ball shots by Burke meant they had rattled off six without repay to jump into the lead.

The extent of Dublin’s acuity in playing the wind became especially noticeable in the second half when Galway were frantically trying to raise flags only for a striker as gifted as Niland to belt shots that looked on course only to fall short.

Although Dublin kept them at arm’s length throughout the second half, a 63rd minute goal by Galway replacement Declan McLoughlin halved the lead to three, 2-22 to 1-22 but the winners comfortably took it home, winning the last 10 minutes 0-5 to 0-2 to restore the six-point differential.

Donoghue wasn’t going to be drawn on how he, as a Galway man felt about it all but was delighted with Dublin’s progress.

“I think it’s a matter of progression and development. We’ve said from the early days that they have the quality. It’s just getting belief and confidence and a game plan that they can stick to and when it’s not going with you, you have your default and you don’t move away from it.

“Over the last number of games, they’ve done that really well. It’s a huge task in two weeks but I’m delighted we’re there.”

Dublin: S Brennan; J Bellew (0-1), E O’Donnell (0-1), P Smyth (capt; 0-1); C Crummey (0-4), C Donohoe (0-1), P Doyle; B Hayes (0-1), C Burke (0-1); F Whiteley (0-1), D Burke (1-10, three frees, two 65s), D Sutcliffe (0-1); S Currie (1-0), D Purcell (0-1), R Hayes (0-1). Subs: D Power (0-3) for Whiteley (47 mins), C Currie for D Purcell (58 mins), M Grogan for R Hayes (69 mins), L Murphy for B Hayes (73 mins),

Galway: D Fahy; J Grealish, D Burke, F Burke; A Touhey (0-1), P Mannion (0-1), C Fahy (0-2); D Burke (0-1), S Linnane (0-1); G Lee (0-1), J Flynn (0-1), J Cooney (0-2); C Whelan (capt; 0-1), C Cooney (0-3), E Niland (0-8, five frees, one 65). Subs: C Mannion for Linnane (44 mins), J Glynn for Flynn (44 mins), T Monaghan (0-2) for Glynn (inj, 49 mins), D McLaughlin (1-0) for Lee (60 mins), R Glennon for C Fahy (67 mins).

Referee: C Lyons (Cork).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times