Micheál Donoghue and his Galway management team looked a little agitated in the closing stages as Dublin turned a seven-point half-time deficit into a one-point lead with six minutes remaining, but in the heat of the battle the Tribesmen excelled in Salthill.
Without Joe Canning, Johnny Coen, Adrian Tuohey, and Jonathan Glynn, Galway were without many of their biggest leaders and characters, but captain David Burke was retained and stepped up with two late points while Jason Flynn was flawless throughout.
Galway led well at the break but were hauled back when their visitors hit a flurry of scores, but this time they came out the right side of the result. After run-of-the-mill wins over Kilkenny, Offaly and Wexford this examination was just what Galway needed. With three weeks to wait before they face Kilkenny in the Leinster final, Donoghue was happy with his side’s performance ahead of a rematch with Brian Cody.
“We were quite content,” said the Galway chief. “When the goals came it gave them a huge lift. We were five, six or seven up and the goals cut that down to the minimum.
“We had to work hard for the win. When they got the goals their tails were up. But testament to our boys they worked hard and stayed in the game when the chances came.
“We have huge respect for Kilkenny. They are going to bring something different than we had in Galway a couple of weeks ago. We know that.
“The perception is that Kilkenny are gone away. It’s going to be a huge game and they will relish the chance to get another crack at us.”
“We take a lot of confidence from the four wins and now we will just get back to the training pitch and look forward to the Leinster final.”
It’s not all rosy for Galway though. They were guilty of some poor defending for the two Paul Winters goals which hauled Dublin back into the game.
The first after 39 minutes was finished off by Winters after James Skehill totally misread a long ball, while the bright movement of the Dublin forwards and Galway’s poor decision making allowed Winters to waltz through for a second.
A couple of long-range frees from Alan Nolan saw Dublin take the lead, but the home support was relieved to see Burke and Flynn step up with the winning scores late on.
But Dublin had the game’s outstanding player in Rian McBride. He hit four of his side’s tally and kept them in touch at the break with a couple of good scores.
It was the Vincent’s midfielder who launched the comeback with a sweet sideline cut after the break, but after losing to Kilkenny, Wexford, and Galway by a combined total of five points, Gilroy can be pleased with phase one of his Dublin project.
“We hadn’t performed at all in the first half. It was a great turnaround in the second half, the effort from the lads was incredible. We got the goals at important times but it’s disappointing we didn’t push on and get the victory. It has been a massive improvement but it’s a results business and at the end of the day we only won one out of four games here in the championship.
“There is a good base to build from. But we have got a mountain to climb because we have got to be winning games.”
J Flynn 0-11 (9f); J Cooney, C Whelan & P Mannion 0-3 each; C Cooney & David Burke 0-2 each; S Loftus & C Mannion 0-1 each.
P Winters 2-1; D Treacy (3f), R McBride (0-1 sl) 0-4 each; P Ryan 0-3 (0-3f); A Nolan 0-2 (2f); D Sutcliffe, J Malone, S Moran, J Madden & C Boland 0-1 each.
J Skehill; P Killeen, Daithi Burke, A Harte; P Mannion, G McInerney, J Hanbury; S Loftus, David Burke; J Cooney, C Mannion, N Burke; C Whelan, C Cooney, J Flynn.
E Burke for Loftus (43), S Cooney for Killeen (50), D Glennon for C Cooney (68), P Brehony for J Cooney (73).
A Nolan; P Smyth, C O’Callaghan, E O’Donnell; S Barrett, S Moran, C Crummey; R McBride, T Connolly; J Malone, F McGibb, C Boland; D Treacy, D Sutcliffe, P Ryan.
E Dillon for Connolly (35), P Winters for Ryan (35), C McBride for Boland (47), J Madden for McGibb (65), J McCaffrey for McBride (73).
Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).