Dublin 0-19 Galway 2-07
Dublin battled past Galway in Tullamore tonight to set up a repeat of the 2009 Leinster SHC final against Kilkenny.
Free-taker Paul Ryan scored 0-13 to inspire the Allianz Hurling League champions, who lost full-back Tomas Brady to an early injury and had Ryan O’Dwyer sent-off in the 57th minute.
Joe Canning hit 1-01 in the opening seven minutes for Galway but the wind-backed Dubs hit their stride to move 0-12 to 1-02 ahead for half-time.
The pressure was on when Galway’s liveliest forward Joe Gantley found the net and O’Dwyer was dismissed for striking Shane Kavanagh just a minute late.
However, the 14 men from the capital, including man-of-the-match Liam Rushe who moved to centre-back, deservedly sealed their place in the provincial decider.
The Tribesmen won the toss and elected to play into the wind and two pointed frees from Ryan, sandwiching a blocked effort from Canning, saw Dublin nip ahead.
Making his first competitive start of the year, Canning duly drilled over his first point from a free and then displayed his canny knack of scoring goals on the Championship stage.
He scrambled away from Brady, who had his right knee strapped, and broke into space on the left before rifling an unstoppable drive past Gary Maguire from a very narrow angle.
The Portumna forward’s 12th goal in 15 Championship outings should have inspired his team-mates. But it was Dublin who collectively stepped up to the mark.
Brady’s withdrawal through injury brought Simon Lambert into the fray and Peter Kelly was moved to full-back with Rushe, who turned 21 today, switching to centre-back.
The Dubs got motoring again with five unanswered points, Ryan and Conal Keaney bringing them back level initially at 0-04 to 1-01. Fergal Moore came to Galway’s rescue as Conor McCormack tried to find space for an attempt on goal.
Points from play were hard to come by for both sides, poor striking and bad decision making let a number of forwards down. Dublin though, were coming good – tigerish play from David O’Callaghan won a free for Ryan to slot over and the latter then registered his fifth of the evening from an 85-metre free.
Ryan repeated the trick from closer in before David Burke passed for Gantley to land Galway’s first point from play after 24 minutes. From there until the break, Dublin built a crucial lead.
Canning, who missed from a free and from play, had a powerful shot blocked by Kelly and Gantley knocked the ball wide immediately afterwards.
Two quick-fire scores, one from a Ryan free and the second an opportunist point from Keaney, got Dublin firing again. Keaney was causing problems for the Galway rearguard in open play – his powerful run set up O’Callaghan for another point and he then cracked over a fine score off his left.
With Canning registering a late wide, there was still time for Rushe to win possession and provide the assist for an O’Callaghan effort. That put seven between the sides and Dublin were definitely in the driving seat.
John McIntyre’s side needed a strong opening to the second half and with substitute Alan Kerins making an impact, they had a good spell early on.
Still, scores were proving hard to come by and a wides tally of 15 came back to haunt them in the end. Gantley and Ryan traded points when play resumed.
Dublin net minder Maguire stood up well to block a close range free from Canning who tried his luck for a goal. Former All-Star Alan McCrabbe raided forward to claim Dublin’s 14th point and Ryan punished some more indiscipline from the westerners.
Galway lacked the firepower to really threaten the Dublin defence. Canning was lacking his usual sharpness and the injury-enforced absences of Ger Farragher and Iarla Tannian were certainly felt.
With 15 minutes to go, Dublin had a double scores lead at 0-18 to 1-06. Ryan had taken his personal haul to 0-12 (0-10f), while Galway’s scores came from Canning (0-02, 0-01f) and Gantley.
For the first time, Dublin looked unsteady when a huge free sent downfield by goalkeeper James Skehill bounced invitingly for Gantley to flash it into the net, bringing his tally to 1-03.
Barely a minute later, a moment of madness from Ryan O’Dwyer saw him hit Kavanagh on the back of the head with his hurley and referee Michael Wadding was reaching for his red card.
Kerins followed up with a point to give Galway a chance of overhauling Anthony Daly’s charges. But the Metropolitans stood up to the task and none more so than net minder Maguire.
He was well placed to deal with a low shot from Gantley, who had outfoxed Rushe, and another effort from Kerins in the next attack was kept out by the Ballyboden St. Enda’s clubman.
Fittingly, it was left to top scorer Ryan to fling over a late free and crown a satisfying six-point win for the Dubs. They will be back at Croke Park in a fortnight’s time to face Kilkenny, whom they beat in the recent league final.
DUBLIN: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; J McCaffrey, P Kelly, S Durkin; L Rushe, A McCrabbe (0-01); C McCormack, R O'Dwyer, C Keaney (0-03); P Carton, D O'Callaghan (0-02), P Ryan (0-13, 0-11f).
Subs used: S Lambert for Brady (11 mins), D Plunkett for Carton (59), D Treacy for McCormack (63), M O'Brien for McCrabbe (66), D O'Dwyer for Treacy (69).
GALWAY: J Skehill; D Joyce, D Collins, F Moore; S Kavanagh, T Og Regan, A Cullinane; B Daly, D Burke; E Ryan, C Donnellan, J Gantley (1-03); D Hayes, J Canning (1-03, 0-02f), A Callanan.
Subs used: A Kerins (0-01) for Ryan (half-time), D Barry for Daly (49 mins), K Hynes for Burke (56), A Harte for Hayes (62), J Coen for Callanan (66).
Referee: Michael Wadding (Waterford)