RECENT seasons have been defined by the inconsistency of Galway senior hurling sides in the white heat of championship.
Yet that is not a condition that afflicts their minor teams. Yesterday in Croke Park provided more irrefutable evidence that, in the underage grade at least, Galway’s hurling outfits are guaranteed to perform and often will succeed.
This was a consummate display that delivered an emphatic win for Galway and it was common knowledge well before the final whistle that captain Shane Maloney would be acquiring the Irish Press Cup.
The latest success confirms Mattie Murphy’s happy knack of mining trophies at this level as he steered a Tribesmen side to All-Ireland minor glory for the sixth occasion.
Dublin arrived in Croke Park yesterday in buoyant mood. After the 6-19 they racked up in their semi-final destruction of Waterford, hopes were high this team could triumph. But that madcap game had also seen them concede 5-13 and any faults in their defence were fully exploited by a potent Galway attack.
Indeed it could be argued Galway were better served by the nature of their semi-final win over Clare, a gritty success after extra-time. That steeled them for this clash and, in difficult conditions, with driving rain and a capricious wind, they adjusted better than Dublin.
Two years ago at this stage, Shane Maloney first came to national prominence at the age of 16. He showcased his abilities in that game and yesterday, as captain, expertly filled the role of leader. Maloney had 1-9 to his credit by the game’s end and was remorseless from frees in punishing Dublin indiscretions and also showed his class in scoring from play. He concluded the game in fitting fashion, gathering the ball 30 yards out, turning to ruthlessly race forward and flash a blinding drive past goalkeeper Cormac Ryan.
There was a strong Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry influence on Galway’s win as Maloney was joined by clubmates Paul Killeen and Padraig Brehony in the starting side. Killeen was a teak-tough presence at full-back, while Brehony’s skill and energy saw him win the midfield exchanges and also notch 0-4.
Centre-back Sean Sweeney was another to have a towering game as he helped nullify the threat of Dublin danger man Ciaran Kilkenny, while Jason Flynn shot three tidy points from wing-forward.
Galway made a decisive burst before the break which set them up for success. The opening 20 minutes saw both sets of players hurl nervously and it was an error-strewn affair. By the 25th minute, Galway edged ahead 0-5 to 0-4, but a brace apiece from Flynn and Maloney and another point by Dean Higgins saw Galway lead 0-10 to 0-4 at the interval. It was a substantial lead and Dublin could never bridge it.
Dublin saw also their main sources of scores dry up. Galway clearly targeted shutting down Dublin’s ace attackers. The four-goal hero against Waterford, Cormac Costello, Emmet Ó Conghaile and Kilkenny were never afforded latitude to wreak havoc by a rigid and disciplined Galway backline.
Bright spots for Dublin were corner-back Sean McClelland and midfielder Cormac Cronin, and a fine point by Matthew McCaffrey early in the second half reduced the margin to 0-11 to 0-6.
Galway accelerated clear after that. Their use of possession was exemplary as they sprayed precise passes around the pitch. Their movement worked well up front as they prised open the Dublin defence with Maloney, Brehony and Flynn raising white flags at will.
Maloney’s goal copperfastened their success but Dublin did manage a late consolation when Kilkenny fired home a 20-yard free.
Scorers for Galway: S Maloney 1-9 (0-6f), P Brehony 0-4, J Flynn 0-3, A Tuohy, D Higgins, G O’Donoghue, J Carr, D Dolan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin: C Kilkenny 1-3 (1-1f), P Winters 0-3 (0-2f, 0-1 ‘65), A Clabby (0-1f), C Cronin 0-2 each, M McCaffrey, C Costello 0-1 each.
Subs for Galway: K Cullinane for Higgins (53), M Mullins for Hanbury (inj) (52), D Dolan for O’Donoghue (55), P Flaherty for Carr (59).
Subs for Dublin: D Gormley for Desmond (half-time), O O’Rorke for McHugh (44), C Boland for Winters (52).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).
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