This was a convincing and routine win for Galway as they easily bettered Dublin to claim both the league points on offer at Pearse Stadium.
Starting with just six of last year’s All-Ireland final team, and another four who appeared off the bench that day, this was far from Micheál Donoghue’s first strength side, but they still were too powerful for Mattie Kenny’s outfit.
With the threat of relegation non existent this season, Donoghue has embraced the league as a chance to test the depth of his panel and he has now played 32 players in three games.
The manager will soon welcome Jonathan Glynn back into the squad, while he will also speak with Joseph Cooney to see if he will return.
“Joseph is just away in Australia so, we are just keeping tabs on him, similar to the rest of the lads. I don’t know if he will be back. We will have a conversation in the next weeks with him,” said Donoghue. “When we went out on the Australia trip he stayed out there. That was all planned. There was no surprise in that. We will just see over the next couple of weeks.”
Of more immediate concern was this performance and the host had this game wrapped up by the 25th minute. Starting for the first time this year, Conor Whelan landed Galway’s 10th point, which put them six points clear. They maintained a healthy advantage throughout - the closest that Dublin came thereafter was when Riain McBride hit two points in a row to narrow the gap to four before the break.
“You’ve got to maintain possession, and sometimes we didn’t do that well enough today,” said Kenny. “Any time the ball broke or any time in rucks, Galway looked that bit hungrier, a bit fresher. I thought they were pretty impressive.”
Four of Galway’s first five points came from Canning frees to put then 0-5 to 0-1 ahead, but after 15 minutes Danny Sutcliffe battled Oisin O’Rorke’s handpass to the net to close the gap to one point. Galway responded with five in a row up to Whelan’s point and they were well worth their 0-13 to 1-4 half-time lead.
Playing in a two-man full-forward line Davy Glennon was very sharp for Galway and he cancelled out Donal Burke’s point after the break, and after Canning added a couple of frees, Cathal Mannion took over with three of Galway’s last four points.
Little went right for Dublin on the day, but full-back Eoghan O’Donnell was dominant on whoever roamed in his direction. McBride hit three points including a sidleline cut, while Sutcliffe dropped deep and distributed the ball well for the Sky Blues. Still, Kenny has no interest in seeing if Diarmuid Connolly might give inter-county hurling a try.
“I don’t think so. I’m quite happy with the squad I have at the moment. We’ve a lot of quality in our squad. We’ve picked our squad for the league and the summer moving forward,” said Kenny. “I haven’t spoken to Diarmuid.”
J Canning 0-8 (8f), C Mannion 0-4, S Bleahene 0-2, J Flynn 0-1, C Whelan 0-1, A Harte 0-1, N Burke 0-1, S Loftus 0-1, D Glennon 0-1.
D Sutcliffe 1-0, R McBride 0-3 (1sl), D Treacy 0-3 (1 65, 2f), E Dillon 0-2, J Hetherton 0-1 (1f), D Burke 0-1, S Moran 0-1 (1f).
F Flannery; J Grealish, R Burke, A Harte; K Hussey, P Mannion, G McInerney; C Mannion, S Loftus; N Burke, J Canning, C Whelan; S Bleahene, J Flynn, D Glennon.
T Monaghan for Glennon (55), P Killeen for Hussey (67), K Cooney for Flynn (69), S Kilduff for Loftus (73), J Mannion for Bleahene (73).
A Nolan; E O’Donnell, P Smyth, C O’Callaghan; C Crummey, S Moran, S Barrett; D O’Connell, R McBride; J Malone, J Hetherton, F Whitely; D Sutcliffe, E Dillon, O O’Rorke.
D Treacy for Whitely (21), L Rushe for Hetherton (26), D Burke for O’Connell (35), D Gray for O’Callaghan (38), S Treacy for O’Rorke (48).
James Owens (Wexford).