Galway 4-22 Offaly 0-17
There was never any danger of a shock result in Salthill as Henry Shefflin’s men strolled to a facile win over an Offaly side managed by his former Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny teammate Michael Fennelly.
Shefflin was pleased that a Galway side in transition still chalked up a big score despite shooting 13 wides and fluffing several good goal chances.
“There were a lot of good passages of play, we were creating goalscoring opportunities which is great. That is something I think is in that Galway forward division, hopefully we will see more of that as the season progresses.”
Henry Shefflin knows they are going to face a wounded Limerick side at the Gaelic Grounds next weekend so he was thrilled to see half-back Gearoid McInerney back himself and solo half the field before supplying a sublime finish for the opening goal.
McInerney’s goal, flicked home after a 70-metre solo, helped Galway lead by 1-12 to 0-8 at the break having played against the wind.
“That’s what we want the Galway team to start doing, backing themselves and going for it. I was delighted to see him going up and scoring a goal,” added Shefflin.
“It was just a brilliant score. He is one of our older players but his fitness level, the way he looks after himself off the field was shown there today because he covered a lot of ground and it was great to see him just going for it.”
Fennelly wasn’t too despondent and reckons these sort of games will help them in the Joe McDonagh Cup later in the year as they try to get back among hurling’s elite.
“I think we learned a lot today and these are the teams that Offaly need to be playing to learn more, to get faster and our speed of play has to improve which can’t happen without these games.
“Galway are a very seasoned team, they’ve a very strong belief. I was hoping we’d break the 20 points mark and we got ourselves 17 points, Galway got 22 so I’d be happy with that to be honest.
"The four goals were a bit of a killer and they were threatening for goals, Conor Whelan inside there is probably one of the best forwards you'd play against and I've no doubt that they'll do something similar to other teams as well," said Fennelly.
Offaly needed to use the wind in the opening half to build a substantial lead in Salthill but they never went ahead in the match as Galway dictated play throughout and would have won by more had they not hit 13 wides and fluffed several goal chances, while Evan Niland drove a 22nd minute penalty.
Offaly managed just four points from play in the opening half and two of them came from defenders Jack Screeney and Killian Sampson.
John Murphy and Adrian Cleary also found the range, with Cahill hitting four frees, but they never looked like building a lead with the wind.
Galway hit eight wides to Offaly’s four in the opening half but still managed to build a lead with Tom Monaghan shooting three from play in the opening 15 minutes, with the superb Conor Whelan picking off three as well in addition to being fouled for the penalty which Niland drilled low and wide.
Whelan blasted the side-netting with another goal chance before Gearoid McInerney burst through on a 70-metre solo from his own half to show his forwards how to do it as he flicked home to send them in leading by seven points.
Whelan did all the work for John Fleming, a first-half replacement for his NUIG teammate Brian Concannon who went off with a shoulder injury, to force home Galway's second goal five minutes after the restart and from there all that needed to be decided was the margin of victory.
Fleming turned provider for Galway’s third goal which Niland finished well, with Cahill doing his utmost to keep Offaly in contention.
Shane Ryan, son of former Galway star Eanna, set up Donal O’Shea, for their fourth goal with the Salthill/Knocknacarra player, whose dad Eamon managed Tipperary, becoming the first from his club to play in the league and he crowned it by blasting home in the closing stages.
Galway: E Murphy; J Grealish, D Burke, D Cronin; G McInerney (1-1), P Mannion, T Killeen; J Cooney, R Glennon (0-2); T Monaghan (0-3), J Hastings (0-1), C Fahy (0-1); E Niland (1-6, 5f, 1 '65), C Whelan (0-3), B Concannon (0-1).
Subs: J Fleming (1-2) for Concannon (19 mins), E Burke (0-1) for C Fahy (56 mins), D O'Shea (1-1, 1 '65) for Niland (56 mins), C Walsh for Monaghan (59 mins), S Ryan for Hastings (63 mins).
Offaly: C Clancy; D King, C Burke, J Screeney (0-1); K Sampson (0-1), B Conneely, J Keenaghan; R Ravenhill, L Fox; A Cleary (0-1), E Kelly, E Cahill (0-10, 8f); J Murphy (0-1), J Sampson (0-1), L O'Connor.
Subs: C Molloy for King (half-time), L Langton (0-2, 2f) for Cleary (half-time), D Nally for Ravenhill (56 mins), B Duignan for Fox (56 mins), D Maher for Molloy (56 mins), E Parlon for Cahill (68 mins).
Referee: R McGann (Clare).