It took until the 68th minute before a Laois forward scored, wing-forward Enda Meagher ending that particular ignominy. By the break, Galway led 2-4 to 0-2, with midfielder James Young scoring both Laois points. On the restart, free-taker Young scored another two, before Meagher saved the blushes of an embarrassingly inept Laois forward sextet.
Little wonder then that manager Dinny Cahill was a tad subdued afterwards. “That was the first time the inside line played together this year and it is the same with Cathal Brophy in the half-forward line. That’s four of the forwards playing together for the first time. It’s very hard to put it together the first time out; we’d be hoping that once we have a few games under our belt, and once we get a bit of hurling done in training, after the clock changes, we’ll get better. You can’t improve your hurling training in the dark of night.”
On this evidence, there’s a hell of a lot of room for improvement. There was not much elation either on the part of Galway manager Conor Hayes; relief, rather, that his side had finally picked up their first points of the league.
“It was a must-win game for us. The lads performed well, worked hard, which they hadn’t been doing; we were doing it in patches against Limerick, didn’t do it at all against Antrim (their two earlier losses) and probably took them for granted. They worked hard today, got the result, which puts a couple of points on the board for us. We are down to Thurles next week (against Tipperary), which will be a different outing altogether, but it’s good to get back to winning ways.
“If we beat Tipperary, beat Kilkenny, we could qualify,” he agreed, with a wry grin, “but we’ll take every game as it comes. Going down to Thurles to play Tipperary is a challenge in itself, no matter whether it’s important or not, and this one is a vital game for us again. It’s important for Galway to qualify for the play-offs, I’m disappointed we’re not further up the road than we are, we should have at least four points at this stage.”
But what of Laois? What do they need to breathe life back into a cause that looks hopeless?
“Laois never got into the game at all, gave us plenty of chances,” said Hayes, “the score could probably have been even higher.” And it could, easily. Full-forward Richie Murray scored two goals (including Galway’s first of the 2006 League campaign) and could have had a hat-trick but for a goal-line save from impressive wing-back James Hyland, with outstanding Laois keeper Patrick Mullaney also denying Ger Farragher and David Tierney.
What is Dinny Cahill to do?
“I must look to try and see all the players I have in match situations before the start of the championship. I could pick the first 15 and leave them there, and they would get better, but I won’t know how deep the squad is if I do that.
“We had seven players out there making their first appearance in the league, I’m using the league to see every player, this was a chance to see those players. If I don’t see them in the league I don’t see them at all, I won’t be able to see them, and I want to give everyone on the panel a fair crack of the whip. I’m not worried about relegation, or promotion, or winning the league, I’m more concerned about seeing what players I have in the squad for the championship.”
: Galway: G. Farragher 1-6 (0-2 frees); R. Murray 2-1; D. Tierney 0-3; F. Healy, C. Dervan (65), 0-1 each. Laois: J. Young 0-4 (0-3 frees); E. Meagher 0-1.
: L. Donoghue; D. Joyce, T. Og Regan, G. Mahon; D. Hardiman, C. Dervan, D. Collins; F. Healy, S. Kavanagh; K. Brady, D. Tierney, N. Healy; G. Farragher, R. Murray, D. Donoghue.
: C. Coen (N. Healy inj. 21); D. Hayes (Kavanagh inj. 35); D. Forde (Collins 60); MJ Quinn (Mahon 64); M. Coughlan (Tierney 64).
: P. Mullaney (c); B. Campion, Pakie Cuddy, O. Bergin; J. Hyland, Paul cuddy, M. McEvoy; K. O’Keeffe, J. Young; E. Meagher, J. Rowney, C. Brophy; S. Lowry, M. Rooney, D. Carter.
: C. Healy (Rowney 27); J. Fitzpatrick (Lowry 43); P. Russell (Brophy 47).
: B. Kelly (Westmeath).