Another step up the ladder for dynamic Dubs

Dublin 2-25 Galway 2-13
Has there ever been a harder road travelled in a Leinster SHC than Dublin have travelled this year?

Has there ever been a harder-earned Leinster title?

Think about it. This was Dublin’s fifth weekend in a row in Leinster championship action and in those five weeks they’ve met Wexford twice (won after a replay, two bruising battles), then met Kilkenny (reigning All-Ireland and National League champions) twice, won after another replay, two highly intense games.

Yesterday, in sweltering Croke Park, it was provincial champions Galway. Has any side before had to overcome such obstacles, and in such rapid succession? No, never.

Worthy Leinster champions then, are Dublin, the promise of the last few years since Anthony Daly took over as manager finally fulfilled, a first provincial hurling title since 1961. And it was convincing, despite a nervy period in the last quarter as the westerners briefly awakened.

Dublin should have been the tired team in Croke Park yesterday, Galway coming in fresh after their semi-final win over Laois three weeks ago, and in the opening eight minutes it was looking like that, the wind -assisted Tribesmen edging into an 0-3 to 0-2 lead with points from Joe Canning, Conor Cooney and midfielder Iarla Tannian.

Gradually, however, the class of Dublin began to tell. Their defence got to grips with the Galway attack (though Joe would remain a threat right to the end), midfield got on top, and the scores began to flow. Full-forward Dotsy O’Callaghan took up where he left off against Kilkenny last week, gave Fergal Moore as torrid a time.

Three points Dotsy scored in the first-half, had a hand in several others including the goal by Paul Ryan in the 25th minute. The same Paul notched that goal plus three points, wrecking-ball centre-forward Ryan O’Dwyer got two, while both midfielders, captain John McCaffrey (2) and Joey Boland (1), also chipped in. Most hard-working of all though in that Dublin attack was omnipresent wing-forward Conal Keaney, and the scoring efforts of all those, combined with the suffocation of the Galway attack at the other end, helped Dublin to a commanding eight-point half-time lead, 1-12 to 0-7.

Galway needed to ring the changes, and did. Andy Smith had already come in to midfield and made a huge difference there. At half-time Damien Hayes and Aidan Harte were added to the fray and in the opening minutes of the new half, again it was the champions starting well, two points from Joe Canning reducing the deficit to six.

Enter Paul Ryan, an unanswered 1-2, then a towering point from wing-back Michael Carton (what a championship he’s having!) and Dublin were on their way, 2-15 to 0-9, Galway seemingly dead and buried.

Not so fast though. Any team with Joe Canning in its ranks will always be a threat and when Joe’s Portumna club-mate Damien Hayes dropped in a high ball to the edge of the Dublin square (50m) he knew what he was doing; under immense pressure Joe made the catch, powered through a massed defence (a few extra steps...), goaled. Four minutes later wing-forward David Burke (lucky to be still on the field after hurley-jabbing Danny Sutcliffe in the 28th minute) beat Gary Maguire with a stunning shot to the top right corner and Galway tails were really up, trailed now by just six again (2-17 to 2-11), still 16 minutes to play.

For the next ten minutes Dublin hearts among the faithful on the Hill were surely and sorely tested as Galway came pressing for more. It almost came too. In the 65th minute Joe Canning again burst through, hit a rocket, but Gary Maguire saved. The ball was cleared, Galway’s chance gone.

The final minutes were a procession, six Dublin points on the trot garneshing a magnificent performance and a magnificent win. Heroes all for Dublin then; we’ve mentioned those in the attack, but Niall Corcoran, Peter Kelly and Paul Schutte, Stephen Hiney, Liam Rushe and Michael Carton, the inner ring, the outer ring of a defence that just gets better.

McCaffrey and Boland, supplemented by Keaney, the engine-room. Most worthy of mention in this historic day for Dublin hurling, Anthony Daly and his management team; what a superb job they’ve done through the course of this campaign.

It just gets better and better, this 2013 All-Ireland hurling championship!

Scorers for Dublin: P Ryan (2-7, four frees); D O’Callaghan (0-4); R O’Dwyer (0-3); J McCaffrey (0-2); J Boland (0-2); C Keaney (0-2); C McCormack (0-2); M Carton, D Sutcliffe, S Lambert (0-1 each).

Scorers for Galway: J Canning (1-7, four frees); D Burke 1-0; C Cooney 0-2; I Tannian, J Regan, J Glynn, A Harte (0-1 each).

Subs for Dublin: C McCormack for Treacy (62); O Gough for Shutte (inj. 55); S Durkin for McCaffrey (56); M Schutte for O’Callaghan (59); S Lambert for O’Dwyer (67).

Subs for Galway: A Smith for Regan (22); D Hayes for Donnellan (35); A Harte for Tannian (35); J Glynn for Glennon (45); A Callanan for J Cooney (63).

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).


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