Galway open National League campaign with comfortable win over Eddie Brennan's Laois

Galway open National League campaign with comfortable win over Eddie Brennan's Laois
Ryan Mullaney of Laois in action against Sean Bleahene, left, and Thomas Monaghan of Galway during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B Round 1 match between Galway and Laois at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Photo by Ray Ryan/Sportsfile

Galway 1-27 - 2-15 Laois

John Lennon struck two goals for Laois in the second-half, but Galway cruised to a nine-point win thanks to ten Joe Canning points at Pearse Stadium.

Davy Glennon hit the net for the Tribesmen who were dominant throughout, while debutant Sean Bleahene and the Mannion bothers, Padraic and Cathal, dictated play for the 2017 All-Ireland champions.

The tone for this game was set after seven seconds when Cathal Mannion struck a point from the left, and a minute later his midfield partner Sean Loftus doubled their lead when he was left all along near halfway.

Galway’s forwards rotated their positions throughout, which caused problems for Eddie Brennan’s side, and with just two men in the full-forward line there was plenty of space for Padraic Mannion and Joe Canning – who often dropped deep into his half-back line – to pick accurate passes into their danger men.

Laois landed their first point after three minutes when a Canning sideline cut was intercepted and Paddy Purcell split the posts, but that was a rare break for the Laois defence.

A Canning free was followed quickly by Cathal Mannion’s second and third points as Galway pulled four ahead by the seventh minute, and despite Aaron Dunphy’s score for Laois, Galway hit five points without reply to lead 0-10 to 0-2 by the midway point of the half.

For the most part, Galway goalkeeper Fergal Flannery elected to work their puck-outs short to his corner backs, and with Galway playing short stick passes through the lines, they found it easy to pick Laois apart.

Two frees from Scully kept Laois within range, but a good Jack Coyne score was followed by Davy Glennon’s goal in the 25th minute, which meant Galway led by 1-12 to 0-4 with ten minutes to go to the interval.

Scully brought his tally to five pointed frees by the break as the teams shared the next six points, but with Padraic Mannion excelling at centre-back Galway were good value for their 1-15 to 0-7 advantage at the break.

After the break Galway reverted to an orthodox forward line against the wind, but it was two long-range Canning frees that stretched their advantage – his seventh and eighth of the game.

Canning’s brilliant reverse pass launched a Galway attack that ended in a Glennon point six minutes after the break, but the Galway full-back line fell asleep in the 45th minute when Dunphy flicked a sideline cut into the path of John Lennon and he flicked to the net to close the gap to 11 points.

Galway’s response was emphatic though. Thomas Monaghan punished a loose pass out of defence from Laois and doubled his tally in the 51st minute after Ronan Burke sent him on his way with a brilliant high catch at the back.

Canning landed his first point from play moments before he was replaced with 12 minutes remaining, and despite Laois scoring four in a row and Lennon firing his second goal in the closing stages, this was easy for Galway.

Scorers for Galway: J Canning 0-10 (8f, 0-1 65), D Glennon 1-2, C Mannion 0-4, T Monaghan 0-2, S Loftus 0-2, S Bleahene 0-2, A Harte 0-1, P Mannion 0-1, J Coyne 0-1, T Haran 0-1 (1f), B Concannon 0-1.

Scorers for Laois: J Lennon 2-0, PJ Scully 0-6 (6f), M Kavanagh 0-4 (4f), J Kelly 0-2, P Purcell 0-1, A Dunphy 0-1, C Dwyer 0-1.

GALWAY: F Flannery; J Grealish (S Bannon 64), R Burke, S Linnane; K Hussey, P Mannion, A Harte (J Fitzpatrick 58); C Mannion, S Loftus; S Bleahene, J Canning (S Kilduff 60), J Coyne (R O’Meara 57); T Monaghan (T Haran 68), B Concannon, D Glennon.

LAOIS: E Rowland; D Hartnett, M Whelan, J Phelan; J Kelly, R Mullaney, P Delaney (S Downey 42); C Phelan (J Cranny 68), PJ Scully (C Dwyer 58); E Lyons (A Bergin 61), M Kavanagh, P Purcell; J Lennon, A Dunphy, S Maher (N Foyle 51).

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).

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