Dublin confirm quarter final place with Galway win

Ger Cunningham’s side leave nothing to chance as strong second half seals victory at Parnell Park

Dublin 0-26 Galway 2-14

The last time Dublin spent a spring in the top division and didn’t end it in a relegation play-off, they won the league. And though it would be testing the elastic of probability to make big claims for them this time around, they’re not the most feckless gamble in the world at odds of 12/1. They pulsed with intermittent verve here and though their hurling was patchy at times, it was still plenty good to send Galway home with their hides tanned.

Ger Cunningham's side were far better than the six-point margin at the end makes out. Galway really only kept them in sight thanks to their greater goal threat - Cathal Mannion and Joe Canning netted one apiece in the first half and Alan Nolan was by a distance the busier goalkeeper throughout. But Galway only managed five points in the whole of the second half - all from Canning and just one from play. If Dublin had had a goal or two in them, they'd have been out the gate long before the end.

"It's very early days," said Ger Cunningham afterwards. "But it was important for us to win today. We had a dual focus today. We wanted to keep our Division One status and we wanted to qualify for the quarter-final. It has no relevance to what will happen this summer. I think we gave a good account of ourselves. It was game number five and we had two performances before today.


“I thought we had a reasonably good performance against Clare when you look back at it. Things didn’t go our way in the second half. We lost our shape a bit. But I’m delighted with today. A home match. We always felt we like playing here, we get great confidence out of it. Delighted with the result. Delighted with the performance.”

Dublin's match-winners were in the forward line. Danny Sutcliffe and Mark Schutte fizzed around the three-quarter line all day, Sutcliffe finishing up with five points from play and Schutte four. Dotsy O'Callaghan was busy early on before fading out somewhat and David Treacy's free-taking was steady as a standing order. Dublin put up 13 points in the first half and 13 points in the second. A dripping tap fills the bucket.

And though nothing is surer than that the time will come when they will need to hose in a few goals, they were able to keep enough clear water between themselves and Galway here. They trailed by 0-13 to 2-9 at half-time having played marginally more hurling than the visitors. Some of the Dublin points were fantastic - Paul Schutte speared a memorable one on a sally forward from corner-back, Sutcliffe was landing them from all angles.

For Galway, the goals were a bridge but they rarely looked overly fussed about crossing it. Andy Smith was a notable exception - along with Mannion - but otherwise this was a particularly wan display. They spilled limited sweat in defending their lead in the second half and while it's true that they had nothing at stake, it will be interesting to see can they flick the switch back on against a bubbling Waterford side next weekend. Certainly Anthony Cunningham didn't appear too distressed.

“Ah, I think in the last 20 minutes, that was the difference there in the finish. They were that bit fresher and wanted it. [DUBLIN]were fighting for their lives basically. They probably thought they would have had to face Kilkenny. So they were worthy winners in the finish.

“Parnell Park is always a difficult place to come and play, it’s a tight pitch and you wouldn’t have said [away wins are a problem for Galway] at half-time. But there wasn’t much in it for 50 minutes of the match. Probably a bit of tiredness there in the finish. Dublin had something to fight for, they were fighting for their lives whereas we were through. Look, next weekend for us is the big one.”

They go to Waterford, while Dublin will play Limerick. It might still only be March but there is a bit of heat in the sun these afternoons and there is juice in both those ties. Can’t ask for much more out of the league.

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times