Streetwise Galway turn the screw at vital times

Waterford went a point up ten minutes into the second half. It had been tit for tat in the second period, but from that point on Galway had the scoring power to creep ahead and the experience to see out the game.

Streetwise Galway turn the screw at vital times

They went into defensive mode down the stretch and forced Waterford to shoot from outside. Micheál Donoghue’s side were also very practical and gave away frees rather than allowing the Déise clearcut goal chances.

In the last three games, Derek McGrath used his bench to introduce pace and power into the full-forward line. Maurice Shanahan, Tommy Ryan and Brian O’Halloran have been regularly called upon to finish games and the Déise bench had contributed an average of five points in their previous three games.

However, McGrath’s plans were disrupted by the early injury to Shane Bennett, who was doing well, and Shanahan had to be introduced much earlier than McGrath would have wished — 15 minutes before half-time.

Shanahan failed to score himself but did well to win some important frees that kept his team in touch. However, he was playing a lone role up front for most of the second half and lacked support.

Brian O’Halloran entered the fray with 20 minutes

remaining while Tommy Ryan was introduced with ten minutes left bringing an injection of pace to proceedings. Both struck a point each but in the final few minutes Waterford needed a goal.

I was surprised by the selection of Johnny Glynn for Galway as he didn’t have a great amount of hurling under his belt. He operated at

full-forward but never got the type of supply he needed to cause Barry Coughlan any real problems. However, he was withdrawn early in the second half and replaced by Niall Burke.

While Derek McGrath’s substitutes all did well,

Mícheál Donoghue’s were game-changers. Niall Burke was superb.

He brought physicality to the Galway forward line, won frees and knocked over two fine points. Jason Flynn,

another of O’Donoghue’s replacements, added two more.

The pair forced the pace when they came in.They offered a different challenge to the Déise defence and spaces opened up. Pressure was

applied by the Galway attack and they forced the concession of easy frees, which Joe Canning converted.

Because Galway were in the lead Waterford had to chase the game down the stretch but the Tribesmen funnelled back quickly, clogging up the area in front of their goal.

Unlike in the Kilkenny, Wexford or Cork games where Waterford led down the stretch, this was a different challenge and the experience of the Tribesmen won the day.

I

was down at pitchside for this game, very close to the Waterford bench and I could see that Derek McGrath and Dan Shanahan were mentally playing every ball in the last 10 minutes.

The Déise hit four wides in this period and each one was a dagger through the heart of their chances. Jamie Barron, who was ill last week, had to be replaced near the end of normal time and they sorely missed his ability to run at

defences down the stretch.

When you want to keep pressure on an opponent it is imperative to keep the ball in play. With two minutes left, Austin Gleeson was wide from a long-range free and there is no greater sight for a defender under pressure than watching a high ball sailing wide.

These lapses by the Déise can be put down to inexperience. They are a young team and although this defeat will seem like the end of the world to them in sporting terms, they will have learned a lot learn from this experience.

Waterford put Galway’s

defence under some pressure early in the second half and Adrian Tuohey and John

Hanbury committed technical fouls as a result, providing two tap over frees for Pauric Mahoney.

However, I felt that Waterford’s long puck out strategy, wind-assisted, straight down the middle in the second period played into the hands of the new champions.

Galway won three consecutive deliveries from Stephen O’Keeffe and this gave the defence confidence and allowed them to play as a unit.

Even when Austin Gleeson fielded one long puck-out he was forced away from goal. It might have been more beneficial to knock the ball to sweeper Tadhg De Búrca and for him to link up with his half-forwards.

Pauric Mahoney was causing his marker Pádraic Mannion some concern by coming from deep in midfield to receive passes behind the attack. De Búrca also needed to drive forward in central positions near the finish to try and reduce the deficit to two points. This heaps pressure on a defence and pressure brings mistakes.

I wrote last Saturday that All-Irelands are won by

dominating the crucial periods in the game. Galway started brilliantly but Waterford fought back manfully in the first half and levelled matters.

However, in the final seconds of the first half Galway took the lead by a point.

Effectively they had won the ‘first half battle’.

Waterford would have been happy going in at half-time but they had no answer when the Tribesmen turned the screw in the final ten minutes.

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