Both teams will be glad of this outing, relieved they remain in the province but thrilled they have another opportunity in Tullamore on Saturday evening to give a better account of themselves.
Conditions militated against good hurling but not enough to justify the 26 wides nor the below-par performances of some of each side’s leading lights. Joe Canning’s hand injury didn’t help his cause, his five wides an indication of his rustiness. Mark Schutte and Danny Sutcliffe only showed glimpses of their usual excellence.
Both managements will look back too with some regret. Johnny Coen could have been moved off Schutte far quicker in the first half. By the time he was switched at the start of the second half, the Cuala man had scored two points, won three converted frees and laid off another point. At the same time, Conal Keaney found Cyril Donnellan a constant difficulty.
On a day when misses were more significant than scores, it was David Treacy’s missed free in the 69th minute which will live longest in most spectators’ memories. His 10 previous successful efforts shouldn’t be discounted, though. As unlikely as it was, had Canning managed to convert the injury-time free from his own 45 metre line, many more of Treacy’s team-mates would be ahead of him in the queue to the firing line.
Ger Cunningham will take much from the purple patch Dublin enjoyed in each half but he too will recognise his team have huge scope for improvement. Twice, Peter Kelly was robbed of possession in the first half but was blessed on both occasions not to be punished. Jason Flynn’s shot was blocked by Alan Nolan in the first instance. Canning’s ground shot skimmed wide of Nolan’s left-hand post in the 33rd minute.
Both instances came after Keaney had the ball taken clean from him by Conor Cooney in the 19th minute. The midfielder sprinted for goal and fired directly at Nolan who found the shot too good to stop.
Dublin had just one serious threat on the Galway goal, Colm Callanan having to stretch to deny Colm Cronin in the 26th minute. “That was probably our most clear-cut chance,” admitted Ger Cunningham. “We’d be looking at hopefully getting a few more chances the next day.”
Galway went close on two occasions in the second half, Shane Durkin majestically hooking Cathal Mannion as he unwound from close range in the 51st minute. Flynn blazed over the bar in the 57th minute when he had beaten Cian O’Callaghan, who was otherwise solid on his senior debut.
Cunningham didn’t hide his worry. “Of course, you’d always be concerned when you look back on a match and see how many chances they got. There is stuff we’ll have to look back on the video and see where we can learn from and where we can improve.”
A read of the scoresheet will indicate to Galway that their discipline let them down on top of their erratic shooting — they registered 14 wides to Dublin’s 12. Coen never got a handle on Schutte in the first half but Liam Rushe and David O’Callaghan, as they grew into the game, were sources of anguish too.
“I think Johnny really redeemed himself in the second half and really powered into the match,” said Anthony Cunningham, Coen improving against Treacy although Pádraig Mannion’s number on Schutte was much more convincing. “Our backs were very strong. Dublin got some frees we need to tidy up on. We would have to look at that. The frees against us was probably a bit high. That’s something we’ll sharpen up on.”
Galway were on top by a point, 1-9 to 0-11, at half-time thanks to Cathal Mannion and Flynn popping over injury-time scores. Having failed to score from play until the 20th minute, Dublin took hold of the game from Cooney’s goal, four unanswered points in three minutes bringing them to within two points. They levelled the game in the 31st minute and enjoyed a brief lead for the first time when Schutte claimed his second point four minutes later.
Dublin regained that advantage in the 38th minute when Treacy pointed another free and went two up with a fine Danny Sutcliffe effort close to the sideline. The margin tottered between one and two points before Treacy punished an Iarla Tannian foul on O’Callaghan in the 53rd minute.
Two Canning points, one from a free but both courtesy of Keaney mistakes, had Galway breathing down Dublin’s necks until Treacy struck over a mammoth open play point from distance. Flynn responded and then Donnellan equalised in the 59th minute.
An exchange of frees from Treacy and Canning was followed by Rushe’s second point. Treacy then snatched at that aforementioned free and it was Aidan Harte who equalised in the final minute of normal time. And so it was that there was no harm done to either side. No real surprise, that, in a harmless affair.
D Treacy (0-11, 8 frees, 2 65s); M Schutte, D Sutcliffe (0-3 each); L Rushe (0-2); J McCaffrey (0-1).
J Canning (0-6, 4 frees, 1 65); J Cooney (1-0); C Donnellan, C Mannion (0-3 each); J Flynn, A Harte (0-2 each); A Smith (0-1 each).
A Nolan; C O’Callaghan, P Kelly, S Durkin; C Crummy, C Keaney, S Lambert; J McCaffrey, R O’Dwyer; D Sutcliffe, C Cronin, L Rushe; D O’Callaghan, M Schutte, D Treacy.
M Carton for P Kelly (35+2); D O’Connell for C Cronin (49); P Ryan for R O’Dwyer (65); S Barrett for C O’Callaghan (70+2).
C Callanan; P Mannion, J Coen, J Hanbury; D Collins, I Tannian, G McInerney; J Cooney, A Harte; A Smith, C Donnellan, J Glynn; C Mannion, J Canning, J Flynn.
G Lally for G McInerney (53); P Brehony for J Cooney (inj 59); D Burke for A Smith (66); P Killeen for I Tannian (69); N Healy for J Canning (70+2).
J McGrath (Westmeath).