It’s just over two months since Galway players punched the air in delight after edging Dublin in a tempestuous Fenway Classic Super 11s tie in Boston, a game that carried surprising significance at the time for both sets of players.
Familiarity between the two counties last year clearly bred contempt because that Boston tie, their fifth competitive meeting of 2015, infamously boiled over into a brawl. Some of the warring players met again yesterday though save a 61st minute skirmish that resulted in three yellow cards, there was little rancour.
David Treacy was ultimately the game breaker with 12 points for Dublin which helped secure next Saturday’s HQ date alongside Wexford at 5pm.
Dublin manager Ger Cunningham was keen to keep the positive form in context, insisting with 15 players absent for various reasons it’s merely an opportunity to assess fringe talent.
He handed game-time to Ben Quinn, Fionn Ó Riain Broin, Fionntan McGibb, Sean Treacy and Chris Bennett while Sean Reilly impressed as a substitute. County title winner David Treacy is more experienced but has his own reasons to impress after losing his place mid-way through last summer’s championship.
“David had a great season with Cuala just gone, he was the main man really with them and I think he’s brought that confidence he showed with the club into Dublin this year,” said Cunningham. “You can see he’s playing with great confidence and performances are following.”
Cunningham says Allianz League team places will be on the line at Croke Park ahead of their Division 1A opener in Tipperary on February 13.
“As management, we’ve tried hard, we’ve looked around and gone to matches to see if there’s anyone out there that deserves a chance,” said Cunningham. “Young Sean Reilly, for example, came in and wouldn’t have been heard much of in Dublin this last couple of years. But I think every game he’s played he’s scored so he’s done well and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Dublin were largely in control though Galway did get back to level terms at half-time after Dublin keeper Conor Dooley fumbled David Burke’s shot. That left it even, 1-9 to 0-12, at half-time and they were tied twice more early in the second-half. But 1-2 from Dublin without reply including a 40th minute Dillon goal put them clear again.
David O’Callaghan firing two beauties from acute angles and Treacy converted a sideline while sub Reilly notched two points.
Joe Canning was rested for Galway because of a knock and new Galway manager Micheal Donoghue said he expected a tough test after his own late appointment last year.
“It’s only been two and a half weeks that we’ve been together,” said Donoghue. We’re still getting to know each other. It’s something we knew coming up beforehand that we’d be a bit off the pace.”
D Treacy (0-12, 6 frees, 2 65s, 1 side line), E Dillon (1-3), N McMorrow (0-4), D O’Callaghan (0-3), S Reilly (0-2), P Ryan (1 free), S Treacy, C Bennett and D Plunkett (0-1 each).
David Burke (1-3), S Moloney (0-5, 4 frees), N Burke (0-3), E Burke, A Smith (1 free) and D Glennon (0-2 each), G McInerney and J Flynn (0-1 each).
C Dooley; J Boland, O Gough, S Durkin; B Quinn, C Crummey, J McCaffrey; N McMorrow, F O Riain Broinn; D Plunkett, F McGibb, D Treacy; S Treacy, D O’Callaghan, C Bennett.
E Dillon for Crummey (21), P Ryan for Bennett (34), S Reilly for S Treacy (63), R Hardy for Durkin (69).
J Skehill; J Coen, R Burke, P Hoban; Daithi Burke, G Lally, P Claffey; David Burke, P Brehony; A Smith, G McInerney, N Burke; E Burke, S Moloney, D Glennon.
A Harte for Brehony (30), J Flynn for Brehony (h/t), I Tannian for Lally (48), S Morrissey for Daithi Burke (52).
P O’Dwyer (Carlow).