Galway’s purple patch leaves Waterford playing catch up
Concannon and Canning to the fore as Tribesmen turn on the style in Salthill scorefest
Joe Canning scores Galway’s second goal against Waterford during the high-scoring league clash at at Pearse Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
GALWAY 4-28 WATERFORD 3-23
A sunny afternoon in Salthill saw Galway eventually burst into life to leave Waterford standing and uncomprehending. How did they start so well, begin to dominate by virtually all criteria and establish a six-point lead in the dying minutes of the first half only to go in at half-time four points behind?
It was Galway’s first win against these opponents since the 2017 All-Ireland final – not that they have shared an intense rivalry in the interim – and an emphatic win with a blizzard of scores incrementally put the match beyond Waterford in the second half.
Waterford manager Liam Cahill was slightly bemused by it all.
“You’d always think coming up, if someone told me this morning you’d score 3-23, you’d say, ‘Jaysus we’ll get a result up here in Salthill’, which is a tough place to come to but that’s the modern game now.
“But, again, it’s about what happens now at the back end and when you give away four green flags, it just doesn’t justify the 3-23 or whatever it was on the board at the other side.”
Galway started a long way off the pace. Their manager Shane O’Neill said that they had some early wides but in general they looked slow and ponderous, compared to their opponents’ pace and poise, snappily flicking the ball around.
In the third minute, Jack Prendergast came in from the right, set up by Shane Bennett and drilled the ball past Éanna Murphy, 1-1 to no score. They were buzzing. Kieran Bennett played in Dessie Hutchinson for a point. Calum Lyons, the definitive attacking half back, was managing to mark Joe Canning and outscore him, winning two successive puck-outs in the 12th minute and sticking both over the bar.
Lyons ended up with 0-5 from play and wasn’t the only Waterford player to have an ostensibly productive afternoon only to end up on the comprehensively beaten side.
Galway took remedial action to try to get a foothold in the contest. Canning was eventually switched into the full forward line and Cathal Mannion moved to centrefield, which was one sector that Waterford didn’t enjoy any real phase of dominance, and had one of those shoot-on-sight afternoons for 0-2 and six wides.
Galway’s forwards ultimately settled matters. From play Canning, Conor Whelan and Brian Concannon combined for 3-11.
They went to work from the high point of Waterford’s lead, seven, 1-9 to 0-5, in the 23rd minute. A Canning free was followed by a goal set up by Concannon who placed the incoming Adrian Tuohey to make it 1-6 to 1-9.
Concannon had a fine match. As well as his 2-2 from play he had two goal assists and was ransacker-in-chief as the match slipped away from Waterford. The visitors had rallied when the Bennetts – Kieran, Stephen and Shane – combined for a move that was partially kept out by Murphy but when it fell to Shane, he pinged a drop shot into the net.
Three minutes later, a flowing move at the other end starting with Cathal Mannion, carried on by Concannon, who again set up the goal – this time by Canning, cutting the margin to three, 2-9 to 2-12.
In the remaining minutes they outscored the opposition 1-4 to nil – Concannon putting to rest any notions that his ready assists were the result of being reluctant to shoot himself.
He followed up on a good save by Shane O’Brien from Conor Cooney to score.
Waterford were shell-shocked going in and given that all of their efforts had left them short at the break, it was hard to see how they’d recover.
And they didn’t – despite Hutchinson claiming the score of the afternoon when Montgomery gave him a sight of goal, a lovely,crafted strike into the top right hand corner of the net to cut the margin to two, 3-12 to 3-14; the lead further depleted by Jamie Barron minutes later.
But Galway were now motoring. Evan Niland came as on a first-half replacement and added to his growing reputation as a dead-eye free-taker by applying the same accuracy to 0-4 from play, only lapsing into a solitary wide when the match was over.
Conor Whelan had another productive afternoon. Even when the team isn’t going well he brings a forcefield of energy to bear on the contest. This time he flighted over four from play in the second half for a total of 0-6 – as well as a telling assist to put Concannon in acres of space for the fourth goal.
Manager Shane O’Neill had to find something to work on after the pre-interval blitz had turned the match on its head.
“Well it did to a certain extent, yeah, but you can see the way a game can change – we were six or seven down so we had to be conscious then immediately after half-time to keep it going.
“Disappointing aspects in the second half would have been the second quarter, I think they had six scores on the bounce and we didn’t have any reply so that’s something we’re going to have to look at.”
Cloud found for silver lining.
GALWAY: 1. E Murphy; 2, S Cooney, 6. G McInerney , 4. D Morrisey; 5. P Mannion, 3. D Burke (0-1), 7. F Burke; 8. J Coen, 12. S Loftus (0-2); 10. A Tuohey (1-0), 11, C Mannion (0-2), 9. J Canning (1-8, four frees, one line ball); 13. C Whelan (0-6), 14. C Cooney (0-3), 15. B Concannon (2-2). Subs: 22. E Niland (0-4) for Coen (30 mins), 19. A Harte for S Cooney (35+ mins), 18. J Fitzpatrick for Harte (39 mins), 21. J Cooney for Tuohey (49 mins), 17. TJ Brennan for F Burke (60 mins), 20. S Linnane for Loftus (61 mins), 23. K Cooney for Canning (64 mins), 26. C Walsh for Fitzpatrick (blood sub - not reversed, 70+ mins).
WATERFORD: 1. S O’Brien; 4. S McNulty, 3. C Prunty, 2. C Gleeson; 5. C Lyons (0-5), 6. A Gleeson, 7. S Keating; 8. J Barron (0-1), 9. J Dillon; 10. N Montgomery (0-1), 15. J Prendergast (1-2), 12. K Bennett (0-1); 13. D Hutchinson (1-3), 11. Shane Bennett (1-1), 14. Stephen Bennett (0-8, six frees, one 65). Subs: 24. J Fagan for Montgomery (51 mins), 21. P Curran (0-1) for Shane Bennett (54 mins), 20. D Lyons for Dillon (54 mins), 19. K Moran for A Gleeson (58 mins), 23. B Power for K Bennett (58 mins), 22. P Hogan for Prendergast (63 mins), 17. S Fives for Keating (67 mins).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)