Dublin proved beyond doubt that there is substance to the hype. They played Galway off the park for 55 minutes and then passed a real test of character in the final quarter, dealing with the concession of a second goal against the run of play and the sending off of Ryan O’Dwyer to book their place in the Leinster GAA Hurling Championship final.
Although Galway inevitably came at Anthony Daly’s side in the closing stages, Dublin never looked troubled. In the end, the six-point winning margin didn’t do their superiority justice. Galway were toothless in attack, relying almost exclusively on Joe Gantley, who scored 1-3 from play.
Dublin’s Paul Ryan scored 0-13, equaling Galway’s total by himself, but Peter Kelly and Liam Rushe both made strong cases to be considered the Dubs’ best players on the night. The pair excelled after being forced to switch from their starting positions after the 12th minute loss of full-back Tomás Brady, who was forced off with a recurrence of a knee injury. Rushe moved from midfield to centre-back and Kelly back to full-back, where he did a brilliant job in keeping Joe Canning quiet.
Dublin led 0-12 to 1-2 at the break, Galway failing to make any impact in attack after Canning had fired them into the lead with an early goal. Dublin were far too strong, with Rushe – who was imperious under the high ball – and Kelly dominant in the pivotal defensive positions. As a team, they hurled with greater intensity and greater craft. Conal Keaney had tweeted before the game that Galway would not be able to live with Dublin, and his prediction was absolutely on the money.
The Tribesmen were thrown a lifeline when Gantley swept home a goal in the 56th minute and Ryan O’Dwyer was sent off following an off-the-ball incident a minute later. Galway, for once, had all the momentum.
But they were still six points down and despite reducing the gap to five thanks to substitute Alan Kerins’ point, that was as close they would come, as Gantley and Kerins were both denied goal chances by Dublin goalkeeper Maguire in he final 10 minutes. Earlier, Maguire had proved his worth to Daly’s side by bravely stopping Canning’s 21-yard free.
Deep into added time, Paul Ryan added his 13th point of the night to seal a six-point win and a rematch with Kilkenny in the Leinster final. It is a game that will be massively anticipated after Dublin’s 12-point hammering of the Cats in the Allianz Hurling League final.
Galway now go into the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Qualifiers with serious question marks hanging over them. Only three of their players managed to get on the scoresheet, while Canning was well marshaled throughout – his goal aside – hitting four wides alone in the first half on his return to the starting XV after an injury ravaged start to the year.
Playing with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half, Dublin were two points up inside four minutes, Paul Ryan setting the Allianz League champions on their way with a pair of frees.
After fluffing his lines with his first attempt from a free, Canning got Galway off the mark on four minutes. But the big Portumna man would soon take centre stage. Tony Óg Regan burst clear from defence and delivered a long ball into the attack, where Canning beat Brady – who crumpled in a heap on the ground – to the ball gathered possession and smashed the sliothar past Maguire from a tight angle.
It was a massive early blow for the Dubs to contend with and it was compounded when Brady, in his first game back after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury, was forced off five minutes later, clutching his bandaged knee. Simon Lambert was brought in at midfield, with Peter Kelly moving to full-back and Liam Rushe dropping back to the number six slot.
Rather than hamper Dublin, the reshuffle seemed to make them even stronger, as Rushe delivered a powerful first-half showing, his ability to win ball on the ’40 an invaluable boon.
Despite the early fireworks, there was no discernible pattern to the game, although the intensity and tackling was ferocious at times, especially in the middle third, where Dublin started to take a firm grip.
Dublin’s reaction to the goal was to strike the next five points of the game, and at least twice the Galway defence was in trouble, with Fergal Moore bailing them out in the 14th minute with a well-timed last-ditch flick.
Keaney had earlier grabbed Dublin’s first from play before the in-form Paul Ryan added two quick frees in succession to give Anthony Daly’s men a 0-7 to 1-1 lead.
Galway’s problems were highlighted when Joe Gantley scored their first point from play in the 24th minute, Canning at this pointed having racked up three poor wides,
Dublin moved seven clear by the break and never looked like relinquishing it in the second half.
Galway Scorers: J Gantley 1-3, J Canning 1-3 (0-2f), A Kerins 0-1.
Dublin Scorers: P Ryan 0-13 (0-11f), D O’Callaghan 0-2, C Keaney 0-3, A McCrabbe 0-1.
Galway: J Skehill; D Joyce, D Collins, F Moore; S Kavanagh, T Óg Regan, A Cullinane; S Burke, B Daly; J Gantley, C Donnellan, E Ryan; D Hayes, J Canning, A Callanan. Subs: A Kerins for E Ryan (HT), D Barry for B Daly 49’, K Hynes for D Burke 56’, A Harte for D Hayes 62’, J Coen for Callanan 66’.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; J McCaffrey, P Kelly, S Durkan; L Rushe, A McCrabbe; C McCormack, R O’Dwyer, C Keaney; P Carton, D O’Callaghan, P Ryan. Subs: L Ryan for O’Dwyer 5’ (blood sub), S Lambert for Brady 12’, O’Dwyer for Ryan 12’, S Ryan for O’Dwyer (blood sub) 28’, O’Dwyer for S Ryan (blood sub) 31’, D Plunkett for Carton 57’, D Treacy for McCormack ’63, M O’Brien for McCrabbe 61’, D O’Dwyer for Treacy 69’.
Referee: M Wadding (Port Láirge)
Article Source: GAA.ie