Galway 0-28 Dublin 1-12
COLM KEYS – 17 FEBRUARY 2014
“We don’t seem to be able to do half -baked and, today, we seemed to be half-baked for some reason,” Anthony Daly remarked as he sifted through the debris of, arguably, Dublin’s worst league performance on his watch.
He was perhaps being a little generous with his culinary analogy. For Dublin looked as raw and uncooked as any team at this level on any opening weekend of a league campaign.
In the corresponding fixture two years ago, they came to the same venue on the back of a productive 2011 season, but were soundly beaten by a home side that were in Anthony Cunningham’s care for the first time.
Dublin never recovered, enduring relegation and championship defeats to Kilkenny and Clare later that summer.
This was worse, much worse, a day that looked like it had begun again with a rummage around the Red Cow car park for players again.
They scored the first two points from David O’Callaghan and Mark Schutte, but were obliterated after that by a Galway performance that was close to flawless until they gave the scoreboard operator some badly needed respite around the 60-minute mark.
At that stage they were working a score every two minutes, the slickness of their striking, the timing of their catching, the bravery and precision that saw at least three Dublin forwards blocked down in the second half alone, culminated in a scale of result that no one saw coming.
Hard-pressed Galway hurling folk are well accustomed to false dawns and the rich promise of young men, so we’ll reserve broader judgment for now.
But the speed of movement and crispness of just about every facet of their play here will surely set pulses racing with excitement once more.
League debutant Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn landed four points each, Niall Healy rolled back the clock with six points, five from play, Johnny Glynn routed the current All Star centre-back Liam Rushe and chipped in with three points of his own.
In fact, all six starting forwards had scored from play by the second minute of the second half when Cooney landed his only point.
Behind them Padraig Brehony revelled in the responsibility of playmaker with his clever cross- field passes – a la Clare’s Colm Galvin – opening up a struggling Dublin defence time and time again. Daly’s (pictured, left) statisticians had the first half puck-outs at 14-1 against his half-forwards, a measure of the dominance imposed by two of Galway’s veterans in particular, Iarla Tannian and David Collins.
Tannian’s posting to centre-back is a fundamental shift by Galway that needs to work if they are to thrive. On this evidence, it can work as the pace and elusiveness of David Treacy, a late call up for Shane Durkin, never troubled him.
It was hard to recall a Dublin forward winning an aerial battle in either half, though substitute Eamonn Dillon did make his mark late on. Conal Keaney’s dismissal for a second yellow card on 42 minutes was a further blow.
“The ball kept coming back down to Gary (Maguire). As soon as he pucked it out, it was coming back down. That was the launch pad for Galway. They just completely got on top in the half-back line and midfield. That gave them enough ball forward. They look like they have a half-back line there that would be unbeatable really. Tannian looked unbeatable there, Collins and even Aidan Harte. So, you know, they’ve obviously recovered from last year and seem to be back at it fairly right.”
Almost every physical battle went Galway’s way. When David Burke lined up Danny Sutcliffe and drove him out over the sideline on the stand side on 62 minutes with a powerful shoulder it energised the Galway support among the 4,411 crowd as much as any score.
Between the eighth and 26th minutes, they hit 10 unanswered points on the back of some magnificent team work and short, snappy passing.
When Paul Ryan drove wide from a 30-metre free on 28 minutes, it compounded Dublin’s misery and within four minutes he was one of two players whipped off as Alan McCrabbe made his first return to league action since 2012.
By the break it was 0-16 to 0-6, but the momentum didn’t ease and within 12 seconds of the restart, Flynn had whipped over his second point, not even bothering to watch the ball fly between the posts, such was the confidence with which he struck it.
By the 58th minute Collins had landed a 27th Galway point for a 17-point lead before Sean McGrath plundered a goal for the visitors.
Cunningham’s natural instinct is to play things down and the audit of who scored what wasn’t something he unduly concerned himself with. Galway forwards have cut loose like this before.
“Look, it was a day when everything we struck went over the bar and Dublin were probably a bit off colour in parts. That definitely won’t be the way next July or August when you meet them. It’s great for us, but it’s only a platform and that’s the biggest thing.
For Cunningham the big successes were at the back with Tannian and another league debutant, Ronan Burke, adapting well in ‘trouble’ positions for Galway in the recent past.
“It was nice to see Iarla Tannian play at six there and Ronan Burke at three. They have been positions Galway have struggled in for the last few years.
“We would have concentrated on this match a lot over the winter and there’s a lot of hurt there and a lot of new guys there. It’s positive and we can build from it. We’re too long around to get carried away, but it’s great for confidence.”
Daly didn’t align the performance with anything they are doing at training and admitted he didn’t see it coming.
“There were no signs of it Tuesday, Thursday. We were happy with the training, we didn’t overdo it either this week, because we thought we maybe overdid it the week of the Walsh Cup final,” he acknowledged.
For Daly the only consolation, apart from league debutant Cian O’Callaghan’s performance was the immediacy of their next match against Clare on Sunday.
As bad as Dublin can be, their powers of recovery can be quite sharp. Don’t expect the same mess in six days’ time.
“We know where we’re at. We know how poor we can be at times, why we don’t perform. Anything I had to say, I said in the privacy of the dressing-room so we’ll keep that in house.
“It doesn’t really matter who it is. It’s good that it’s only a week. A Division 1 game at home, it’s no harm.”
Scorers – Galway: N Healy (1f), C Cooney (5fs) 0-6 each, C Mannion, J Flynn 0-4 each, J Glynn 0-3, P Brehony 0-2, D Glennon, D Collins, A Harte all 0-1 each. Dublin: S McGrath 1-1 (0-1f), A McCrabbe 0-4fs, D O’Callaghan 0-3, P Ryan 0-2fs, R O’Dwyer, M Schutte all 0-1 each.
Galway – C Callanan 7; F Moore 8, J Coen 7, R Burke 7; D Collins 9, I Tannian 8, A Harte 8; D Burke 7, P Brehony 9; C Cooney 7, J Glynn 9, J Flynn 8; C Mannion 8, N Healy 9, D Glennon 7. Subs: R Cummins 6 for Glennon (49), Daithi Burke 5 for Tannian (58), P Landers 5 for Mannion (58), K Hynes for D Burke (64).
Dublin – G Maguire 6; C O’Callaghan 7, P Kelly 4, S Timolin 4; S Hiney 5, L Rushe 4, M Carton 6; R O’Dwyer 5, J McCaffrey 4; C Keaney 6, D Treacy 5, D Sutcliffe 5; P Ryan 4, D O’Callaghan 7, M Schutte 5. Subs: C Cronin for McCaffrey (32), A McCrabbe for Ryan (32), E Dillon for Treacy (ht), C McCormack for Hiney (49), S McGrath for O’Dwyer (58).
Ref – J Ryan (Tipperary).