Waterford and Galway play out a thrilling draw
The Deise will take on Wexford in the quarter-finals
Waterford’s Austin Gleeson is challeneged by Paul Hoban and Aidan Harte of Galway during their Allianz League clash. Photo: Ken Sutton/Inpho
Waterford 0-24 Galway 1-21
An injury-time equaliser from wing-back Gavin O’Brien ensured a share of the spoils for League champions Waterford as Galway, off the back off a second successive draw, were condemned to a relegation play-off with Cork.
A scintillating second half at Walsh Park, which see-sawed one way and then the other, ultimately and deservedly ended all square, as the Roanmore clubman, running onto a pass from the returning Pauric Mahony, ensured a share of the spoils.
Despite making 10 changes from the side that lost to Dublin, Derek McGrath’s charges demonstrated laudable cohesion in the opening exchanges, with the hosts leading by 0-6 to 0-2 inside 10 minutes.
For the first time in McGrath’s reign Waterford opted for a conventional 15 on 15 approach in the opening quarter, to Galway’s initial bewilderment, with Shane Bennett, Tom Devine and Colm Roche leading the Deisemen’s offensive charge.
Tom Devine and Colm Roche sent Waterford two points up inside 80 seconds, with Galway’s Davy Glennon replying before the turning of the third minute.
Man of the match Shane Bennett, who struck 0-6 from play, opened his account moments later. And by the 10th minute further strikes from Bennett and a Maurice Shanahan brace sent the hosts four points clear.
While slow to settle Galway stayed in touch thanks to Joe Canning, playing in a much deeper role than he is readily accustomed to. But by the 27th minute Waterford had maintained their four-point lead, with the brilliant Bennett tormenting the Galway defence.
Eight minutes from the break Bennett was denied a certain goal thanks to a magnificent James Skehill save, with the Galway custodian extending all six feet five inches when diving to his left.
Niall Burke and Joe Canning reduced Galway’s arrears to two points by the 32nd minute and then, a minute from full-time, Michéal Donoghue’s men edged ahead for the first time when Burke blasted low beyond Ian O’Regan following a fine pass from David Burke. At the interval, Galway led by 1-10 to 0-12.
An even more entertaining and altogether tenser 35 minutes followed, with no-one among the 5,029 throng too anxious to vacate their perches. Joe Canning and Brian O’Halloran traded points in the opening three minutes and Waterford edged ahead following a Maurice Shanahan free and another excellent Shane Bennett point.
David Burke and Shanahan traded white flaggers before Thomas Ryan and Bennett tagged on a further brace to send Waterford a goal clear by the 50th minute. The excellent Niall Burke and Maurice Shanahan pointed again before Galway struck a purple patch, with Davy Glennon and substitute Conor Whelan cutting Waterford’s lead to two points by the 57th minute.
Deise substitute Michael Kearney profited from Tadhg de Búrca’s 58th minute hand pass before Niall Burke and Shane Bennett traded further white flaggers as the match ticked electrically into the closing 10 minutes.
Canning landed a monstrous free from inside his own 65 in the 62nd minute only for the lively Kearney to find an immediate response for the hosts. But back came Galway through points from Cathal Mannion and Conor Walsh’s second effort, and two points inside 90 seconds from Mannion and David Burke edged the visitors ahead with a couple of minutes remaining.
An enthralling second half, bookended by the return of Pauric Mahony, got the dramatic finish it deserved, when Mahony’s pass released O’Brien, who landed a majestic point from just inside his own 65-metre line, to ensure a point apiece.
Waterford: I O’Regan; C Gleeson, S McNulty, S Roche; A Gleeson, T de Búrca, G O’Brien (0-1); S O’Sullivan, K Moran; S Bennett (0-6), T Devine (0-1), B O’Halloran (0-3); C Roche (0-1), M Shanahan (0-9; 0-8f), T Ryan (0-1). Subs: M Kearney (0-2) for A Gleeson (49), J Dillon for C Roche (56), Philip Mahony for S O’Sullivan (62), Pauric Mahony for T Ryan (68),
Galway: J Skehill; P Hoban, J Hanbury, F Moore; A Tuohy, D Burke (0-2), A Harte (0-1); A Smith, D Collins; E Burke (0-2), N Burke (1-2), D Glennon (0-2); C Mannion (0-2), J Canning (0-7; 0-4), J Flynn (0-1). Subs: R Burke for P Hoban (46), C Whelan (0-2) for A Smith (47), R Cummins for E Burke (57), S Moloney for J Flynn (67).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).