Galway a level above Mattie Kenny’s ‘leggy’ Dublin
After the minor shock of a draw in Carlow, Galway bossed this division 1B encounter
Galway’s Sean Bleahene and Darragh O’Connell of Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Galway 1-20 Dublin 1-11
In Salthill, the locals spent a windy February Sunday searching for signs of how the maroon team would look in the summer. They left far from discouraged.
After the minor shock of a draw in Carlow, Galway bossed this division 1B encounter against Mattie Kenny’s side from beginning to end. Four classy points from play in a sparkling midfield display by Cathal Mannion and a tour-de-force from Aidan Harte in Galway’s new-look defence were among the chief talking points. Micheál Donoghue again liberally chose from the younger members of his squad and has used over thirty players in Galway’s league campaign this year.
“Yeah but I think in fairness to them, when we are giving them a chance you have to run with them for a few games,” the manager said afterwards. “And when you integrate them with some of the more senior fellas you will see more of them and they will be more comfortable with that bit of experience around them.”
Donoghue said that he expects Johnny Glynn to return ahead of the championship and will speak to Joseph Cooney over the next few weeks. The Sarsfields man has been in Australia since last autumn: “Just keeping tabs on him,” Donoghue said. “Right now, I don’t know will he be back. We will have that conversation over the next couple of weeks.”
Galway played with the breeze in the first half and might have been out of sight early on but for Dublin’s 15th minute goal, which was badly needed and straightforward. Shane Barrett played a ball inside to Oisin O’Rourke who squared Jack Grealish and then cut for goal on the inside before spotting Danny Sutcliffe’s streaking run through the middle: the Jude’s man finished from close range.
The score did little to disrupt Galway’s flow and they promptly reeled off three pleasing points from play, including a monster effort on the left wing by Harte. Sutcliffe was fortunate to escape with a yellow after a rash pull across Joe Canning in front of an outraged crowd in the stand. Canning was hobbling but maintained a perfect free-taking statistic as Galway re-asserted their control.
Dublin struggled to get any purchase in the maroon defence, prompting Mattie Kenny to run his bench earlier than anticipated. A brilliant hook by Kevin Hussey on O’Rorke set Cathal Mannion up for a beautiful score on the run on the half hour mark and Jason Flynn closed Galway’s half with a spectacular strike on the far side of the field.
The physical strength and field coverage of Sean Bleahene was another bright spot for Galway while Ronan Burke’s front-foot showing at fullback substantiated the sense that they’re in complete control. It took Dublin until the 27th minute to register their first point from play. They trailed 0-13 to 1-5 at half time and failed to make any serious reduction of that deficit after the teams turned around.
“We looked very leggy out there today,” Mattie Kenny said. “Galway in general were just that bit sharper and playing a level above what we played. “Yeah, you have got to retain possession and sometimes we didn’t do that well enough today. Galway, anytime the ball broke looked that bit fresher and hungrier.”
Kenny took some comfort from the battling performance of his fullback line: facing the constant threat of in-coming ball, they battled hard against Bleahene, Flynn and Glennon and held that trio to 0-4 from play.
The scarcity of goal chances for Galway may be a nagging concern: this was an efficient performance, with just four wides over the 74 minutes but they never really threatened Alan Nolan’s goal despite the roomy nature of the game and the presence of speed merchants like Conor Whelan and Glennon.
Dublin, in fact, came close to a second goal, with Ronan Burke bravely blocking Eamon Dillon’s initial shot before Fergal Flannery saved the follow-up from O’Rorke. The visitors needed something to vitalize their performance but instead the second half drifted along with Galway secure in their lead.
A bursting run by Kevin Cooney released Thomas Monaghan but before he could get the Dublin goal in his sightlines, he was hauled down unceremoniously. Deep into injury time, Canning speculatively cracked the resulting free low and ultimately wide off Dublin’s goal for his only wide of the afternoon. It was the last play of the day and any doubt over the result had ended well before that.
GALWAY: 1 F Flannery, 2 J Grealish, 3 R Burke, 4 A Harte (0-1); 5 K Hussey, 6 P Mannion, 7 G McInerney; 8 C Mannion (0-4), 9 S Loftus (0-1); 10 N Burke (0-1), 11 J Canning (0-8 frees), 23 C Whelan (0-1); 12 S Bleahene (0-2), 15 D Glennon (0-1), 14 J Glynn (0-1).
Substitutes: 22 T Monaghan for D Glennon (56 mins inj), 19 P Killeen for 5 K Hussey (67 mins), 26 K Cooney for 14 J Flynn (69 mins), 21 S Kilduff for 9 S Loftus (72 mins), 24 J Mannion for 12 S Bleahene (72 mins).
DUBLIN: 1 A Nolan; 4 C O’Callaghan 3 E O’Donnell, 2 P Smyth; 5 C Crummey, 6 S Moran (0-1 free) 7 S Barrett; 8 D O’Connell, 9 R McBride (0-3, 0-1 sideline); 10 J Malone, 14 E Dillon (0-2), 13 F Whitely; 12 D Sutcliffe (1-0), 11 J Hetherton (0-1 free), 15 O O’Rorke.
Substitutes: 19 D Treacey (0-3, 0-1 65, 0-2 frees) for 12 F Whitely (18 mins), 17 L Rushe for 11 J Hetherton (26 mins), 21 D Burke (0-1) for 9 D O’Carroll (half time), 23 D Gray for 4 C O’Callaghan (39 mins inj), 20 S Treacy for 15 O O’Rorke (49 mins).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).