Wexford answer critics but Galway have lost that cruise control

When five minutes went up on the board yesterday, I said to Brendan Cummins that a draw would be the fairest result.

Wexford answer critics but Galway have lost that cruise control

When five minutes went up on the board yesterday, I said to Brendan Cummins that a draw would be the fairest result.

By that stage, the place was rocking but it was bubbling up with a nervous tension as Galway were trying to hold on and Wexford were charging for the line.

Even myself and Cummins were on our feet as the tension reached boiling point. Cathal Dunbar had a glorious chance to win the match with his late goal opportunity but Colm Callanan denied him.

It was a brilliant save but he wouldn’t have got near it if Dunbar had connected like he could, and should have.

On the other hand, you have to give even more credit to Callanan in the circumstances because he also saved the follow-up shot from Dunbar.

The general narrative around the place afterwards was that the gripping drama late on compensated for a poor match but I wouldn’t agree.

I got loads of texts telling me that it was a very poor game but I’m funny that way, in that I really enjoy those tactical arm-wrestles.

I find it intriguing to see who can slam the other’s hand down on the table first.

Once Wexford got it back level, I said to myself ‘What will Galway’s response be now?’ I was beginning to doubt them but they hit back with a decent level of bullets.

It wasn’t enough to outgun Wexford but Galway will take the result considering how apocalyptic the end-game could have been.

Just before Dunbar’s chance, Davy Glennon almost had the ball in the net but Kevin Foley got in the tackle and Mark Fanning did the rest.

The fact that Wexford created that late goal chance from the counter-attack almost summed up the defiance they showed when the need was greatest.

Wexford had huge issues on their own puckout in the first half. Most of their big names were quiet for nearly three quarters of the match but they thundered into it late on.

They started winning more clean possession and their forwards finally started to find their range. If Lee Chin’s radar had been working better, he probably would have been man-of-the-match.

Galway struggled in the second half. Johnny Glynn gave them more of an option off the bench but that killer instinct which they had in 2017, and for long stages last year, is no longer as evident.

I just felt Galway believed that the outcome was going to be similar to the league quarter-final, when they pushed on in the second half against the breeze and blew Wexford away.

Maybe Galway subconsciously switched off but they’re not hurling well enough, or scoring freely enough, to afford that luxury.

They don’t have that cruise control anymore. David Burke’s two wides in quick succession could have pushed the lead out to eight points but they left the door open and Wexford found a way through it.

Wexford pushed hard against the door when Galway failed to slam it shut. They shoved up on Sean Loftus and abandoned their own sweeper by moving Kevin Foley out to midfield.

Once they got the scoreboard moving, Galway had no rhythm or fluency and their confidence just seemed to drain away.

It’s pretty obvious now how much of a loss Joe Canning is because nobody was sticking up their hand to guide the ship through such choppy waters.

The Wexford boys stuck up their hands but the sending-off of Davy Fitz to the stand also seemed to galvanise them.

He was fully entitled to get mad because one of his players had been taken out on a third man tackle but that incident seemed to provide that spark that Wexford were desperately craving.

Wexford took a lot of stick during the week. Jim Bolger’s comments after the Dublin game got a lot of traction. Ger Cushe had a go at them in this paper on Saturday.

There was real heat on them as a squad in the last quarter but they found the answers.

Once they got momentum, having the breeze at their backs was also a factor.

Cummins and I were perched on this outdoor podium and we had to get some tape off one of the producers to stick the programmes to the table in front of us.

As Galway struggled to get the ball up to their attack, Wexford got some excellent scores. They hit some poor wides too but they kept going and kept pushing Galway back.

They’ll be disappointed by not having a win on the board yet but Wexford will be buoyed up big time this week.

With a break and Carlow to come, they’ll by primed and ready to do a job on them in two weeks’ time.

They’ll be looking to put up a big score, especially when Galway only beat them by six points and given that Leinster could very come down to scoring difference now.

If Wexford go up by 10 points, they won’t show any mercy like Kilkenny did in the second half last weekend.

Leinster is really boiling up now. We’re already in for a fascinating last weekend with Kilkenny having to go to Wexford Park and Galway taking on Dublin in Parnell Park.

But forget about that for now. I can’t wait for next weekend already, never mind what’s coming in three weeks. And bring it all on.

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