Mattie Kenny bemoans poor finish to campaign for 'gutted' Dublin

Galway churned out their poorest performance of the campaign to date and yet still never looked in the remotest bit of danger of coming off second best
Mattie Kenny bemoans poor finish to campaign for 'gutted' Dublin

21 May 2022; Galway manager Henry Shefflin shakes hands with Dublin manager Mattie Kenny at the end of the game in the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 5 match between Galway and Dublin at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Photo by Ray Ryan/Sportsfile

Leinster SHC (R5)

Galway 0-27 

Dublin 0-21 

A chastening seven days for the Dublin hurlers, two defeats leaving Mattie Kenny with a long summer to ponder his future.

After a promising 2021 campaign, which included a comprehensive Leinster semi-final win over Galway, the past two weekends represent a step backwards for Kenny and his players - and a notably sizable one at that.

Where there was disappointment at the extent to which Kilkenny outclassed them at Parnell Park the Saturday before last, the frustration out west was the alarming lack of fight to save their season.

No use they made of the elements favouring them in the opening period, during which the visitors did not hold the inside lane beyond an 18th minute Chris Crummey point to move 0-6 to 0-5 ahead. Indeed, a Galway three-in-a-row between the 32nd and 35th minute shoved the hosts into a lead they would take with them all the way to the finish line to comfortably make certain of a Leinster final spot.

Was there, perhaps, a subconscious expectation that struggling Wexford would be unable to mine victory at Nowlan Park, meaning a preservation of Dublin’s championship involvement no matter the Salthill scoreline?

Or is it simply a case that Dublin are not currently functioning to a level that allows them to live with the province's top two.

Either way, Dublin’s hurling on Saturday evening - with the exception of Donal Burke - was without urgency, without lift, and, for the most part, without belief.

Even more telling was that Galway churned out their poorest performance of the campaign to date and yet still never looked in the remotest bit of danger of coming off second best.

The Leinster round-robin table will show that Dublin were eliminated on an inferior score difference to Cody’s cats and the Model County. That's only half the story.

“Having six points after the first three games, and having won below in Wexford, it was in our own hands,” Kenny began.

“We had an opportunity playing Kilkenny to beat them and to get to a Leinster final, and we had that same opportunity again this evening. We wanted to win one of those games to get into a Leinster final. We lost out on scoring difference, but, at the same time, you have got to go and try and win matches.

“We would have been targeting to pick up points in one of the last two games. Ultimately, we failed to do that. The lads inside in the dressing-room are really gutted."

For the hosts, a fourth win on the bounce and a fifth championship game unbeaten. And after the county’s horrendous 2021 championship, Shefflin and his rejuvenated troops are at the very least guaranteed a place in the last six of the All-Ireland championship.

Eight first half Conor Cooney frees had the purpose of papering over maroon shortcomings, especially in the inside line where Dublin defenders Eoghan O’Donnell and Cian O’Callaghan were doing an amount of spoiling, and sent the hosts back under the main stand 0-12 to 0-11 in front at the break.

The breeze behind them upon the resumption, Conor Whelan, Cathal Mannion, and Joseph Cooney slowly edged Galway off into the distance and on the road to a Leinster final meeting with Kilkenny in two weeks.

Their level of second half dominance meant a Conor Cooney penalty saved by Dublin ‘keeper Seán Brennan didn't in the least bit unsettle them.

“The first day I spoke to you down in Wexford Park, we were probably cursing our luck a little bit. But to be fair to the lads, they did what was required every day,” said Shefflin of taking nine from a possible 10 points in the round-robin series.

“Our pattern of play wasn’t brilliant today, but I thought our work-rate was extremely high. It’s good also to see Jason (Flynn) and Ronan (Glennon) coming back in again tonight. Again, they will get more game time during this week as well.” Onto a rematch with Cody march Galway. As for Dublin, nobody is exactly sure what direction this team or their manager is headed in.

Scorers for Galway: C Cooney (0-13, 0-12 frees); C Whelan (0-5); C Mannion (0-3); F Burke (0-1 sc), J Cooney (0-2 each); C Fahy, B Concannon (0-1 each).

Scorers for Dublin: D Burke (0-14, 0-9 frees); R McBride (0-2); C Burke, C Crummey, D Sutcliffe, E Dillon, P Crummey (0-1 each).

GALWAY: É Murphy; P Mannion, Daithí Burke, J Grealish; F Burke, G McInerney, D Morrissey; David Burke, T Monaghan; C Fahy, C Cooney, J Cooney; B Concannon, C Whelan, C Mannion.

Subs: J Flynn for Fahy (57); J Coen for Monaghan (60); R Glennon for David Burke (63, inj); T Killeen for P Mannion (66, inj); E Niland for Concannon (69, inj).

DUBLIN: S Brennan; J Bellew, E O’Donnell, C O’Callaghan; D Gray, P Smyth; A Dunphy; J Madden, C Crummey; D Burke, R McBride, C Burke; F Whitely, E Dillon, D Sutcliffe.

Subs: R Hayes for Madden (14); J Madden for Dunphy (41, inj); P Crummey for Sutcliffe, C Currie for Whitely (both 57); D Ryan for Gray (62).

Referee: J Murphy (Limerick).

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