SECOND-TIER hurling is no place for any team with championship aspirations but that’s where Dublin find themselves this morning.
Winners must be rewarded and losers must suffer accordingly. The officials may call it Division 1B but there’s no disguising that the Dubs are now rooted in hurling’s second grouping — just a year after winning the competition outright.
After years of sustained hard work and juvenilesuccess they will now find themselves up against Laois and Antrim in 2013.
No disrespect intended to either county, but that just won’t suffice when you’re preparing for a Leinster championship match against the likes of Kilkenny. It took Clare three years to get out of it while Offaly and Wexford are still stuck there. Worse still, hurling needs emerging counties coming through, not regressing.
Still, that’s not to take from Galway’s committed and impressive performance, however. They totally upped their game in the second half and thanks to a touch of class from Joe Canning who rasped home a spectacular wristy finish in the 51st minute — and an extremely rare Gary Maguire goalkeeping error moments later — the Tribesmen surged ahead with goals and could not be caught.
The industry of Damien Hayes and the opportunism of the Burkes, David and Niall, kept them in full flow while their defence availed of a free man for the entirety of the second half as Dublin decided to withdraw their full-forward Ross O’Carroll to the half-forward line.
The Galway defence simply cleaned up and at the other end the Dublin full-back line looked totally at sea as their opponents attacked — they shipped three goals in 15 minutes. It was surprising that there was such a gap in the second half because there was little to separate them in the first. Indeed, Dublin looked the better side.
Both teams shuffled their decks from the throw-in. David Collins moved from full back to his favoured right wing-back position and Kevin Hynes took to the edge of the square while Damien Hayes retreated out the field to leave space for Joe Canning and the speedy Davy Glennon inside.
But the opening exchanges belonged to Dublin. Minus Alan McCrabbe, who lost an appeal against his suspension yesterday morning and Ryan O’Dwyer who will miss their championship opener against Laois following his red card last week, they moved their full-forward line out and essentially placed Conor McCormack and David Treacy closer to the goals.
By the end of the first half both teams were firing scores for fun. Martin Quilty bossed the opening quarter for Dublin. The Na Fianna man prefers wing back but he dominated Galway at midfield in the early clashes.
Galway struggled to get into the game — Damien Hayes looked to be too far out to make an impression while Joe Canning was harshly booked for a tackle on Peter Kelly as the Blues opened up a two-point lead.
Still well in the game despite a sluggish start, Galway manager Anthony Cunningham tookAndy Smith off after 22 minutes and brought in Johnathan Glynn. Soon after they were awarded a penalty after the Dubs defence were adjudged to have sat on the ball. Joe Canning looked to the line, his manager told him to raise a green flag and he did just that.
Galway were right back in it, despite playing second fiddle and while Paul Ryan’s impeccable free-taking kept Dublin ticking over, the form of Niall Burke and David Burke, who moved from midfield to wing forward, found a purple patch and they hit 0-5 between them to leave the westerners leading 1-11 -0-13 at the break.
The pace lacked championship intensity but it was clear neither side was keen on facing a season in the second tier. Only one team came out for the second half, however and it’s Galway who survive. Dublin have hit a roadblock. No doubt they’ll come again, though.
Scorers — Galway : J Canning (2-7, 1-6f), D Burke (1-3), N Burke (0-4), D Glennon (1-2), C Donnellan (0-2) D Hayes (0-1), I Tannian (0-1), J Coen (0-1) Dublin: P Ryan (0-11, 8f), M Quilty (0-3), C McCormack (0-2), J McCaffrey (0-1), D Treacy (0-1), J Boland (0-1)
Galway: F Flannery, K Hynes, D Collins, J Coen, N Donoghue, F Moore, T Og Regan, D Burke, I Tannian, A Smith, N Burke, C Donnellan, D Hayes, J Canning, D Glennon. Subs: J Glynn for A Smith (23), J Regan for C Donnellan (60), B Flaherty for N Donoghue (68), C Cooney for N Burke (70)
Dublin: G Maguire, N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte, M Carton, J Boland, S Durkin, J McCaffrey, M Quilty, C McCormack, D Treacy, L Rushe, D Sutcliffe, Ross O’Carroll, P Ryan. Subs: S Lambert for D Treacy (46), N McMorrow for R O’Carroll (50), E Dillon for M Quilty (59), R Treanor for P Schutte (60), D Plunkett for P Ryan (64)
Referee: J Sexton (Cork)
– DAMIAN LAWLOR _ Irish Independent