Only Dublin answer the questions

Many question marks surrounded both teams before the Leinster hurling final.

How would Dublin get up for their second big weekend in a row and could they impose the same type of game on Galway as they did Kilkenny?

I watched their faces as they alighted from their bus in Croke Park just before 3pm and entered the dressing room nearest to Hill 16. They looked very determined but I wondered if the occasion would prove too big for them?

The Tribesmen had questions to answer too. What form would they bring to this game? Would it be last year’s Leinster final tour de force or would they repeat the semi-final display against Laois?

Last year, in general their defence had played as a unit and were impressive. Questions remained from the league over full-back Kevin Hynes and the defensive spine. Last year’s centre-back Tony Óg Regan was replaced by Shane Kavanagh and Joseph Cooney was in place of Niall O’Donoghue.

Would the 2013 sextet gel in the heat of championship intensity or would the management throw up more defensive questions than they answered? We didn’t have long to wait. Apart from the first few minutes Dublin had a hold on this game. They were hungry for work. Their support play was excellent and they were sharper physically and crucially, mentally than their opponents, who looked well off the pace.

Dublin had the advantage of tough games in the preceding weeks and it showed in their stickwork while Galway had only the lesser-paced Laois game as preparation.

Galway won the toss and elected to play against the breeze. Incredibly they didn’t have a plan to deal with Dublin’s tactics. The first half set the tone for the game. Dublin manager Anthony Daly got his tactics correct while Galway defensively were at sixes and sevens.

Dublin’s left half-forward, Danny Sutcliffe, played deep in midfield on the left-hand side while Conal Keaney dropped deep on the other side. Galway put their speedy corner-back Johnny Coen on man-marking duties on Sutcliffe which denied them his excellent covering ability behind the half-back line.

Fergal Moore picked up Dublin dangerman Dotsie O’Callaghan. Moore is normally an excellent man-marker but Galway left acres of space in front of the speedy corner-forward who took advantage of the room and knocked over three excellent first-half points. I was surprised Galway manager Anthony Cunningham, didn’t react to stymie the influence of O’Callaghan and Paul Ryan in the Dubs inside line by switching Coen onto O’Callaghan and Fergal Moore onto Ryan, who were both getting to the ball ahead of their men. I expected Galway to drop players deep in front of their full-back line to cut out the supply routes. Dublin scored 1- 8 to a single point from Galway in a little over 10 minutes from the 15th minute. Dublin were not going to relinquish their eight-point half-time lead.

Five minutes into the second half, Dublin led by 11 points with Paul Ryan’s stunning second goal giving Dublin a tremendous boost.

Galway fought back and made a game of it with goals by Joe Canning and a fantastic strike by David Burke.

When a team is on the comeback trail, the defence needs to be watertight but on each occasion when Galway goaled, Dublin responded with points from Conal Keaney and Paul Ryan, both from poor clearances by Andy Smith and Shane Kavanagh who had support options from Johnny Coen and keeper James Skehill respectively.

Galway reduced the deficit to seven but couldn’t improve on that. Dublin can thank Galwayman Niall Corcoran who brilliantly blocked Niall Burke from getting a third goal. A third goal for Galway might have rocked the Dubs but Dublin’s superior work rate and fitness was vital in the last 10 minutes. This is a most important stretch in any game. Dublin fired six points in this period and could have had two other goals while Galway’s reply was a point.

Dublin answered their questions marks with 2-21 from play. However, questions remain for Galway as they were out-thought, outfought, their midfield replaced and their full- back line overpowered on a fantastic day for Dublin hurling and their manager Anthony Daly.

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