DUBLIN 2-25 GALWAY 2-13: As if part of some great cosmic realignment, Dublin hurlers continue to enjoy the sort of year they were supposed to have 12 months ago whereas Galway drifted farther back into the Doldrums of under-achievement they thought they had left behind in 2012.
A first Leinster title since 1961 signified the greatest step forward of the Anthony Daly era, a period that has already bridged the years back to 1939 for a league title and to 1942 for a championship win over Kilkenny.
There now remains just the box that hasn’t been ticked since 1938 and after the power, composure and exuberance of yesterday’s performance, visualising that ultimate possibility no longer requires the assistance of mind-altering drugs.
The sorrowful mysteries of Galway’s unpredictability were once more apparent in the manner in which the outgoing champions and last September’s All-Ireland finalists were swept aside. Even with Dublin teetering briefly on the brink of epochal achievement, they couldn’t take advantage of that understandable inhibition – instead getting run ragged and outscored by six points over the final quarter.
As with the previous week’s win over Kilkenny, Dublin’s victory had to overcome the weight of history and Daly’s team went about their business with a drive and ambition that overshadows the contributory negligence of their erratic opponents.
Their defence was outstanding. Peter Kelly revisited the task of marking Joe Canning, which he had accomplished so effectively two years ago that it took him to the brink of an All Star. Yesterday Galway's reliance on Canning protruded as disconcertingly as ever and although he hit 1-3, Kelly had his moments and Dublin coped with the singular threat.
The other white helmet in front of him, Liam Rushe gave another elemental display reading the ball, catching comfortably, taking the hits and clearing. On either side of him Stephen Hiney and Michael Carton competed physically and effectively, the latter also hitting a glorious second-half point.
The tone was set in the first quarter with a tit-for-tat scoring sequence indicating that Galway weren’t going to blow away their challengers as they had Kilkenny in this fixture 12 months ago. Canning’s points were counter-balanced by Paul Ryan’s frees and sniping points from play by a quickly rampant Dotsy O’Callaghan.
Dublin's points –the magnificent Conal Keaney and Johnny McCaffrey getting in on the act – began to put distance between the teams and by the 21st minute the lead was double scores, 0-10 to 0-5.
Over the course of the match Dublin had 10 different scorers and of the starting forwards only David Treacy didn't raise a flag but he caused great consternation with his ability to ghost through the defence and but for losing his hurl in a flamboyant flick and run in the 21st minute would have had a goal for the taking; his kicked attempt at a point flew wide.
All of the forwards demonstrated a manic work rate, shutting down defenders and giving them as little time and space as possible to clear.
The cutting edge came from Paul Ryan whose 2-7 included just four points from frees. If his attempt to go for goal from a free in the seventh minute was unavailing and overly ambitious the two goals he scored were vital in pressurising Galway and keeping them on the back foot.
In the 25th minute an attack constructed by Hiney and O'Callaghan was finished by Ryan's shot at goal, which James Skehill will have been disappointed not to keep out and the lead grew to 1-10 to 0-5.
By half-time that was still the margin although it took the intervention of Hawk-Eye to rule out a Canning free, which the umpires originally awarded.
It was Canning whose early scores after the break made inroads on the lead, reducing it to six only for Ryan to launch a force de frappe, which piled the pressure back on Galway.
In three minutes between the 38th and 41st he scored 1-2, a point from play, a massive free from his own 65 and then a goal.
Paul Schutte launched the ball up to Keaney whose fine catch opened up a chance but the shot skewed to Ryan who turned and rammed the ball into the net with a thunderous finish.
The match entered a phase in which Dublin’s forwards began to concede the initiative with the ball not sticking and Galway putting together a spell of pressure that seriously if briefly threatened a revival.
In the 50th minute with a goal made in Portumna – replacement Damien Hayes launching the ball into Canning who this time eluded the defensive cover to score Galway's first goal for 1-11 to 2-16. Dublin responded immediately with O'Dwyer getting the next score.
David Burke – lucky to be on the field after harmlessly but senselessly digging his hurl in Danny Sutcliffe in the first half for which he got just a yellow card – launched a pile-driver from over 25 metres into the net to cut the margin to six, 2-11 to 2-17 in the 54th minute.
That was as good as it got for Galway and after Boland had replied immediately, Dublin went up the gears again to run off a succession of points. Replacements Conor McCormack – one with the assistance of Hawk-Eye – and Simon Lambert hit points while Mark Schutte used his physique to bull around the attack and nearly had a goal when his shot came off Johnny Coen and forced a fine save from Skehill.
Jonathon Glynn might have goaled for Galway but hit the shot over the bar in the 63rd minute. But by then all of the momentum was with Dublin and they rose to the occasion to the delight of a respectable crowd of 36,657.
DUBLIN: 1. G Maguire; 2. N Corcoran, 3. P Kelly, 4. P Schutte; 5. S Hiney, 6. L Rushe, 7. M Carton (0-1); 8. J McCaffrey (0-2), 9. J Boland (0-2); 10. C Keaney (0-2), 11. R O'Dwyer (0-3), 12. D Sutcliffe (0-1); 14. P Ryan (2-7, four points frees), 13. D O'Callaghan (0-4), 15. D Treacy. Subs: 21. C McCormack (0-2) for Tracey (53 mins), 19. O Gough for Schutte (55 mins), 18. S Durkin for McCaffrey (56 mins), 25. M Schutte for O'Callaghan (60 mins), 20. S Lambert (0-1) for O'Dwyer (67 mins). Yellow cards: O'Callaghan (22 mins).
GALWAY: 1. J Skehill; 7. J Cooney, 2. F Moore (capt.), 3. K Hynes; 4. J Coen, 6. S Cavanagh, 5. D Collins; 8. I Tannian (0-1), 9. J Regan (0-1); 10. D Burke (1-0), 11. C Cooney (0-2), 12. C Donnellan; 13. D Glennon, 14. J Canning (1-7, four points frees), 15. N Burke. Subs: 19. A Smith for Regan (22 mins), 21. D Hayes for Donnellan (half-time), 26. A Harte (0-1) for Tannian (half-time), 22. J Glynn (0-1) for Glennon (45), 23. A Callanan for J Cooney (63). Yellow cards: D Burke (28 mins), N Burke (39 mins).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).