Impressive Dublin continue on their upward curve

 

GAA: Dublin 0-19 Galway 2-7:SO DUBLIN keep intact their unbeaten championship record against Galway. That’s actually the last thing this game was about, but no harm noting it.

What really mattered here was courage and intent and reputation – and Dublin also keep all that intact going into the Leinster final showdown against Kilkenny. Anyone still doubting whether Dublin are the real deal must surely have got their answer here on Saturday evening – because the only criticism of this performance is that Dublin should have won by more.

For Galway the opposite is becoming ominously apparent.

The look on manager John McIntyre’s face afterwards said it all, that perhaps those questioning the talent and commitment of his team might have got their answer too. When only three players score, several more are marked absent, and they could hardly even win their own puck-outs, perhaps this Galway team is much sicker than it wants to admit.

From the immaculate free-taking of Paul Ryan to the exceptional defending of Peter Kelly – and capped off with some marvellous 21st-birthday fielding from Liam Rushe – Dublin were once again highly efficient and deftly effective. They not only imposed their game on Galway, but refused to allow Galway impose on them; Joe Gantley was about the only exception to that, and beyond one flash of brilliance, Joe Canning was made to look very ordinary.

The big Portumna man missed seven shots on goal and scored four, which must count as something of a record in itself.

Galway still get the chance to redeem themselves in the qualifiers, but were so thoroughly out-boxed here that this defeat could well prove a knockout punch. Dublin had them on the ropes from very early on, and although they possibly dropped their guard a little bit late on, the verdict in the end was unanimous.

Dublin’s nerve was tested a couple of times: after seven minutes full back Tomás Brady badly twisted his left knee (having already injured his right knee last month) – and that forced an early reshuffle of the defence.

Worse still Brady had been chasing Canning, who took possession from a Galway turnover, and proceeded to rifle an unstoppable shot into the Dublin goal. Brady is now likely to miss the Leinster final, although by then fellow defender Joey Boland should be fit again. Canning’s superb goal put Galway in front 1-1 to 0-2 – but incredibly they would only add one further point before half-time, from Gantley, as Dublin eased into a 0-12 to 1-2 interval lead.

Dublin’s nerve was tested again on 55 minutes, first when Gantley reacted first to finish a long-range free from James Skehill to the net, and then when Ryan O’Dwyer raised his hurl at a Galway defender, in full view of the linesman. Referee Michael Wadding was consulted and O’Dwyer was shown a straight red card.

The 12,000-attendance was thus treated to an absorbing 15-minute climax. Galway substitute Alan Kerins became just their third scorer, and with that Dublin’s advantage was down to five; 0-18 to 2-7. Galway had the wind at their backs – having elected to face the wind in the first half – but just couldn’t break through the Dublin defence with the necessary force.

Gantley had two fiery shots at goal well-stopped by Gary Maguire. But Kelly had moved seamlessly into full back, and made several great hooks on Gantley and indeed Canning – while in front of him, Rushe was covering every move.

Still, 14-man Dublin hadn’t scored since the 54th minute as the clock spilled into injury time. But Galway’s final effort had been too little too late, and when Ryan slotted over his 11th free – for a total of 0-13 – that also signalled the end and a minor pitch invasion from the Dublin supporters.

Truth is both teams had found 33 scoring chances during the game, and Galway sent 15 of those wide. Their midfield was outgunned with Barry Daly retiring early through injury, and David Burke just not in the mood. Dublin made it tough on Galway with their adept man-marking and covering of space, but Galway’s game was lacking in any plan, pattern, and imagination.

Dublin’s neat attacking play was based on swift hand-passing and short ball movements, which helped maintain possession, with Conor McCormack and John McCaffrey always in the thick of it. Oisín Gough was back to his best too, although Rushe earned himself the man-of-the-match award after his faultless display when moved back to centre back.

Conal Keaney was typically physical and David O’Callaghan improved as the game went on, chipping over two fine points. If anything, Dublin continue to build on their breakthrough league run, and all this gives them a wonderful platform going into the timely rematch against Kilkenny.

DUBLIN:1 G Maguire; 2 N Corcoran, 3 T Brady, 4 O Gough; 5 J McCaffrey, 6 P Kelly, 7 S Durkin; 8 L Rushe, 12 C Keaney (0-3); 10 C McCormac, 9 A McCrabbe (0-1), 11 R O’Dwyer; D O’Callaghan (0-2), 13 P Carton, 15 P Ryan (0-13, 0-11 frees). Subs: 19 S Lambert for Brady (11 mins), 22 D Plunkett for Carton (58 mins), 26 D Treacy for McCormack (63 mins), 20 M O’Brien for McCrabbe (66 mins), 21 D O’Dwyer for Treacy (69 mins). Yellow cards: P Ryan (61 mins). Red cards: R O’Dwyer (57 mins).

GALWAY: 1 J Skehill; 2 D Joyce, 3 D Collins, 4 F Moore; 5 S Kavanagh, 6 T Óg Regan, 7 A Cullinane; 8 D Burke, 9 B Daly; 10 J Gantley (1-3), 11 C Donnellan, 12 E Ryan; 13 D Hayes, 14 J Canning (1-3, 0-2 frees), 15 A Callanan. Subs: 23 A Kerins (0-1) for Ryan (half-time), 20 D Barry for Daly (48 mins), 18 K Hynes for Burke (56 mins), 24 A Harte for Hayes (62 mins), 21 J Coen for Callanan (65 mins). Yellow cards: A Cullinane (28 mins), D Collins (51 mins), S Kavanagh (72 mins).

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford).