By Brendan O’Brien, O'Moore Park
Galway 0-33 Offaly 1-11
No surprises here. Not even the hint of any.
Galway, as expected, will face Wexford in the Leinster hurling decider next month after disposing of Offaly at their leisure in Portlaoise on Sunday afternoon.
And to think that they hardly raised a gallop in doing it. Not bad for a side that scored 33 points.
Offaly pitched up in Portlaoise with nothing to lose. Galway, in a sense, had nothing to gain. Rampant against Tipperary in the league decider, and ruthless in disposing of a 14-man Dublin side in the provincial quarter-final in Tullamore, Galway carried the mantle of All-Ireland front-runners with them to the midlands.
The result here was never in doubt, the real intrigue lay in how the favourites would handle the expectation. Truth be told, this was probably ideal for them: a good runout without setting the kind of pace that would have added to the buzz about them.
Offaly got the ideal start after just four minutes with Oisin Kelly pouncing on a long clearance to run through on the Galway goal and find the net via a deflection off the advancing goalkeeper Colm Callanan.
The Faithful kept touch for the first quarter but they were hampered in attack on at least half-a-dozen occasions in the first-half by a player’s poor touch.
Adding to the frustration was the fact that a goal or two could have been mined with greater composure.
As it was they depended overwhelmingly on frees from Shane Dooley to keep pace with Galway. Three times the sides drew level in the first 18 minutes but Micheal Donoghue’s side began to pull away inexorably after that.
The workload was portioned out democratically with eight players contributing to the 16 points claimed by the interval.
The most worrying part to all that for Offaly was the knowledge that their opponents were playing well within themselves.
The second half only accelerated the trends of the first.
Galway scored 10 of the first 11 points in the period but the most notable score came from Emmet Nolan midway through the half given it was the first time since their goal that an Offaly player other than Dooley contributed to the scoreboard.
A grand total of 51 minutes.
The greatest ruckus caused all day came when the stadium announcer proclaimed that there would be an additional five minutes.
The crowd of 6,292 had already thinned out by then but those remaining roared in dismay at the extra imposition.
Move on folks, nothing to see here.
Scorers for Galway: J Canning (0-7, 6 frees); C Whelan (0-7); N Burke (0-5); S Maloney (0-4); A Harte (0-3); C Mannion, P Mannion and J Coen (all 0-2); C Cooney (0-1).
Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley (0-9, 6 frees, 1 ‘65’); O Kelly (1-0); E Nolan and L Langton (both 0-1).
Galway: C Callanan; J Hanbury, D Burke, A Tuohy; P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte; J Coen, D Burke; C Mannion, J Canning, C Whelan; N Burke, C Cooney, J Flynn. Subs: S Maloney for Cooney (20); M Donohue for P Mannion (55); S Loftus for Tuohy (58); E Burke for Canning (61); P Brehony for D Burke (62);
Offaly: J Dempsey; B Conneely, D Shortt, E Grogan; S Ryan, S Gardiner, D King; P Guinan, E Nolan; P Murphy, J Bergin, S Kinsella; S Cleary, S Dooley, O Kelly. Subs: L Langton for Cleary (42); P Camon for Ryan (52); S Quirke for Guinan (55); D Doughan for Murphy (61); J Mulrooney for Kinsella (64);
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).