Three wins have been chalked up and 30 players have been used by a Galway side who won’t have the likes of captain David Burke or hurler of the year Joe Canning back for some time yet.
Centre-back Gearoid McInerney made his return yesterday on a day when nine of the All-Ireland final side started, but the performances of newcomers such as Conor Cooney’s younger brother Shane at wing-back, former All-Ireland winning captain Sean Lofus at midfield, and a revitalised Davy Glennon in attack, will expand the options available to Micheal Donoghue and his selectors.
Castlegar’s Jack Coyne and Kevin McHugo of Tommy Larkins came on to make their senior debuts yesterday and more experiments are likely over the remaining two games before the knockout stages.
Next week’s trip to Dublin is more or less a dead rubber before they host Limerick in what is likely to be a promotion decider a week later.
“These types of games are not simple,” said Donoghue. “We had two hard weeks of training, and we were very conscious that there would be a bit of tiredness, but the attitude was a big step up and I know that the hurling will improve over the next few weeks. I think we are going in the right direction.
“The new lads that came in today certainly put their hands up and I think we have to use the league to give the younger lads and the new lads on the panel an opportunity and for the remainder of the league we will continue to do that.
“When they get the opportunity they have to take it and Shane Cooney and Seán Loftus did well today.”
Galway looked like they might be stretched a bit when they turned around leading by just four points at the break but the game died as a contest within seven minutes of the restart when Joseph Cooney got his second goal and Offaly then had centre-forward Shane Kinsella red-carded.
By then they were 2-11 to 0-8 adrift and there was no way back, their luck on the day emphasized in the closing minutes when Shane Dooley had a penalty saved by James Skehill as Offaly failed to find the net for the second game in a row and their opening night win over Dublin is becoming a distant memory.
No surprise then that manager Kevin Martin wants a response when they host neighbours Laois on Sunday.
“We have to win the next day. I went over to watch Laois on Saturday night and they went well.
“They can always up their game for Offaly. They always do. It’s going to be a battle and a half at O’Connor Park.
“You have to win those ones and that’s it. We are after working too hard not to win them.”
The positives for Offaly included a decent start with points from Damien Egan, Dan Currams, David King and Kinsella putting them 0-4 to 0-2 in front and even when Joseph Cooney struck for his first goal, they got back level approaching the break.
But Cooney’s second goal and the dismissal of Kinsella for a tangle with Paul
Flaherty which neither
manager saw, ensured there was only going to be one winner. Tommy Geraghty came on to shoot three good points for Offaly but Galway, with Cathal Mannion scoring 0-5 from play and Conor Cooney hitting 0-7 despite six wides, cruised into the quarter-finals with plenty to spare.
Allianz HL Division 1B: Galway 2-19 Offaly 0-14
J Cooney 2-1, C Cooney 0-7 (4f), C Mannion 0-5, S Loftus 0-3, P Flaherty 0-2, N Burke 0-1.
D Egan 0-3 (3f), D Currams 0-3, T Geraghty 0-3, S Kinsella 0-2, S Dooley 0-2 (2f), D King 0-1.
J Skehill; A Tuohy, P Mannion, S Bannon; S Cooney, G McInerney, A Harte; J Coen, S Loftus; J Cooney, C Mannion, P Flaherty; C Cooney, C Whelan, D Glennon.
N Burke for J Cooney (39), B Concannon for Whelan (52), B Flaherty for Harte (59), K McHugo for Coen (66), J Coyne for Glennon (69).
E Cahill; B Conneely, S Gardiner, T Spain; D O’Toole, P Camon, J Quinn; D King, P Delaney; C Gath, S Kinsella, O Kelly; D Egan, C Mahon, D Currams.
D Shortt for Quinn (36), T Geraghty for Delaney (36), C Egan for Gath (48), S Dooley for King (52), J Bergin for Kelly (65).
Cathal McAllister (Cork).