Galway show familiar failings

Waterford 0-24 Galway 1-21: An afternoon where the men from the west required both a performance and a result, and yet it was under-strength Waterford, already guaranteed their place in the league quarter-finals, who came away much the happier.
Galway show familiar failings

Events in Semple Stadium meant that even if the Tribesmen had held on for victory after their late surge, a relegation dogfight with Cork would not have been avoided. That sink-or-swim fixture the weekend after next will ultimately define Galway’s spring and, aside from the five-minute bursts at the end of either half yesterday, there weren’t a whole pile of positives for Michéal Donoghue and his backroom team to clutch to ahead of the rematch with Cork.

A sluggish start had the visitors 0-7 to 0-3 behind come the close of the first quarter and despite a Niall Burke goal on 33 minutes nudging them into a scarcely deserved 1-10 to 0-12 interval lead, Donoghue’s charges conceded six of the first eight scores of the second-half to hand the initiative straight back to the home outfit.

The fact then that a Gavin O’Brien point was required two minutes into injury time to ensure a share of the spoils for Waterford is where Galway can build from.

Though never out of sight entering the closing stages, there was no evidence to suggest the visitors had the wherewithal to close the three-point deficit which separated the teams for much of the second period.

Niall Burke, Davy Glennon, Conor Whelan, Niall Burke again, and Joe Canning had all split the posts to cut the gap to two points at various intervals between the 51st and 63rd minute.

On each occasion, Waterford simply sauntered back down the field to re-establish a three-point cushion.

On 65 minutes, Cathal Mannion, who drifted in and out of proceedings — emblematic of his team as a whole — drilled over.

No Waterford reply was posted and Conor Whelan brought it back to the minimum with a decent strike on the stand side.

Then another from Mannion, followed in the ensuing passage by an over-the-shoulder effort from David Burke; Galway now 1-21 to 0-23 in front.

Victory may have eluded them in the end, but Donoghue was satisfied by the manner in which his players had worked their way back into contention.

“In fairness to the lads, they stuck with it through difficult periods. We were three and four points down. They fought back. They stayed at it,” he said.

For Waterford, O’Brien’s point was, of course, the crucial score, but defeat had been staved off moments earlier when half-forward Shane Bennett galloped deep into his own half to flick the sliotar off the hurl of Joe Canning and put paid to an attack which would have put the westerners two clear as the clock entered the red.

Bennett was Waterford’s outstanding contributor, shooting six points from play and generally causing havoc each time he came onto possession.

He produced a number of fine catches in the opening half as the Waterford forward unit, despite being out-numbered by a seven-man Galway rearguard, cleaned their opponents out under the high ball.

Their aerial dominance, coupled with Galway’s struggling midfield and ineffective two-man inside line, had the scoreboard reading 0-11 to 0-7 in Waterford’s favour after 27 minutes. Bennett (0-3), Colm Roche, Brian O’Halloran, Tom Devine, and Maurice Shanahan (0-5 frees) were on the mark.

Their lead could have been greater but for a superb James Skehill save to deny Bennett on 26 minutes.

McGrath’s charges did falter slightly approaching the break — David Burke and Cathal Mannion put together a string of short, crisp passes to create the goal opening for Niall Burke — but redeemed themselves with a brace of scores from O’Halloran, Bennett (0-2), Tommy Ryan, and Shanahan (two frees) to turn a one-point interval deficit into a 0-18 to 1-12 lead by the 50th minute.

On an afternoon where they did not have Kevin Moran surging forward from midfield (he was tied down by his man-marking role on Canning), Austin Gleeson limping off with a hamstring injury, and the likes of Noel Connors, Michael Walsh, and Barry Coughlan in the stand, this was encouraging fare from the county’s second-string men.

Scorers for Waterford:

M Shanahan (0-9, 0-8 frees); S Bennett (0-6); B O’Halloran (0-3); M Kearney (0-2); C Roche, T Devine, G O’Brien, T Ryan (0-1 each).

Scorers for Galway:

N Burke (1-3); J Canning (0-6, 0-4 frees); D Burke, E Burke, D Glennon, C Mannion, C Whelan (0-2); J Flynn, A Harte (0-1 each).

GALWAY:

J Skehill; F Moore, J Hanbury, P Hoban; A Tuohy, D Burke, D Collins; A Harte, D Glennon; J Flynn, N Burke, J Canning; E Burke, A Smith, C Mannion.

Subs:

R Burke for P Hoban (45 mins), C Whelan for A Smith (46), R Cummins for E Burke (57), S Moloney for J Flynn (66).

WATERFORD:

I O’Regan; S Roche, S McNulty, C Gleeson; K Moran, T de Burca, G O’Brien; A Gleeson, S O’Sullivan; M Shanahan, T Devine, S Bennett; B O’Halloran, T Ryan, C Roche.

Subs:

M Kearney for Gleeson (48 mins, inj), J Dillon for C Roche (55), Philip Mahony for O’Sullivan (61), Pauric Mahony for Ryan (68).

Referee:

B Gavin (Offaly).

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