Frantic Salthill shoot-out whets the appetite for a hot hurling summer

Defences at breaking point as Galway and Waterford notch up a combined 7-39 from play

The final scoreboard tells the story of a high-scoring Division 1 Group A clash  at Salthill. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The final scoreboard tells the story of a high-scoring Division 1 Group A clash at Salthill. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Has the arrival of summer helped to steady hurling?

In Pearse Stadium, Galway took their quest for the league title to next week’s final series with an eruption of scores that derailed Waterford’s quite promising start and left them staring down the track at a 4-28 to 3-23 defeat.

Out of a total of 7-51, just 0-10 came from frees so the high scoring was of the free-flowing variety rather than a continuation of the recent dominance of free -takers. It’s hard going for reporters of course. Between scores and wides there were 84 attempts at goal – in a 70-minute match!

It would be easier to take notes on a petrol pump filling the tank.

Is this all sustainable, Galway manager Shane O’Neill was asked?

“Last week we were giving out we only scored 0-24 and now we score 4-28 and the scores are unsustainable. I think just the skill level and the pace of the game, you could see it there. It’s very difficult to be a back-man these days because of the space created by everybody else.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we were complaining the game isn’t good then we have a good weekend of it so I actually think it will continue to improve and benefit for the championship.”

In other words, you’re never happy.

For his opposite number Liam Cahill, who guided Waterford to last year’s All-Ireland final, the league has been positive but he accepted that it also comes with lessons.

“The 10 minutes before half-time really hurt us. They got a real stranglehold on the game from them, created a lot of movement up front and we did not have the wherewithal and the legs at times to go with them.”

He ruefully pointed to the concession of four goals as being hard to overcome, especially the manner of them.

“They are big hits. Giving away green flags is one thing but when you give them away in that manner it absolutely sucks the energy out of you. Again, it is stuff that we can only work on [on] the field and go back and try and fix it. We are always a work in progress. It has been a great league to date for us but we have to keep learning.

“The little things that came out of today – we can’t keep saying every week that we have time to fix it because ultimately the time will come when you won’t get the chance to fix it. If I am standing here with the same issues then we will be in trouble.”

League final

O’Neill itemised Galway’s injuries and said that it was just as well that the GAA have been allowing seven replacements.

“We had two or three blood, one head and Joe got a bang in the ribs as well so I’m not too sure what the position is injury wise. In fairness to the GAA, the seven subs has proved vital particularly with the way the league games have come thick and fast, particularly as well when we only had a three-week lead-in so that has proved to be very important that those changes can be made and the games don’t suffer. Overall, we have to assess where those injuries are for next week.”

The league final, which may well become a virtual event, will be clarified in a week’s time. Cahill’s team will have a say as if they beat Tipperary and Galway get something in Cork, it will be the Westerners who proceed to join Kilkenny in the decider.

There is no date set aside for the final but the title will be awarded to the team that wins any subsequent championship match between the two table toppers in Divisions 1A and 1B (which Kilkenny have already achieved with the defeat of Laois on Sunday).

If it’s Galway, the counties are on a possible course for a Leinster final meeting. Otherwise, if Tipperary win, any resolution will await an All-Ireland match-up between themselves and Kilkenny, which hasn’t exactly been a rarity with nine meetings in 11 seasons.

Of course the one time you’d want them to be drawn together . . .

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