Stirring Galway comeback ensures Leinster final clash with the Cats

The Galway senior hurlers have still never beaten Dublin in Croke Park in the Leinster senior hurling championship, but they did stage a stirring comeback last Sunday in clawing back a twelve point deficit to salvage a 1-15 to 2-21 draw and book a place in the provincial final against Kilkenny.

An abject first-half performance that was strangely devoid of energy left Galway staring down the barrel of an embarrassing loss at the hands of former manager Micheál Donoghue. Dublin played with poise and purpose, had a plan and stuck to it diligently, picking off scores with Galway players trailing in their wake.

When Galway then handed their opponents two first-half goals on a plate, Donoghue must have thought all his Christmases had come at once. Eanna Murphy’s misjudgement of a floated shot was then compounded by TJ Brennan’s misplaced pass across his own goalmouth that allowed Danny Sutcliffe to pounce.

Galway’s prime source of resistance came in the shape of four long-range points from Joseph Cooney, but a major overhaul was required at the break with Brian Concannon and Jack Grealish introduced. The further introductions of Sean Linnane and Jason Flynn gave Galway another lift, and after an initial Dublin surge, the game began to turn in the Tribesmen’s favour.

Daithí Burke’s dominance put Galway on the front foot, while Evan Niland punished Dublin’s transgressions and also added scores from play. Conor Cooney saw his well-struck penalty saved after Concannon had been hauled down, but when the Galway captain ran forward to collect Flynn’s mishit effort and rattle in his first Championship goal, all the momentum was with Galway, who only trailed by five.

Slowly, but surely the deficit was narrowed as Galway’s intensity finally reached the required levels and Dublin began to wilt badly. Murphy’s huge free drew the sides level late on, and although Galway got their noses in front twice in the final minutes, Dublin responded on both occasions to earn a share of the spoils.

Henry Shefflin now has plenty to ponder ahead of Galway’s 10th Leinster final appearance. Kilkenny have injury concerns after their defeat to Wexford, but Galway fans will be hoping Sunday’s opening-half effort was an aberration and not a sign of things to come.

Elsewhere, the all-conquering Galway minors head to Semple Stadium on Sunday to take on Munster champions Clare in the All-Ireland final.

After a first Leinster campaign in which they won their five games convincingly, Cork were then sent packing on a 3-18 to 1-10 scoreline in the semi-final, with Aaron Niland and co tipped to claim Galway’s 15th crown.

Galway Senior Hurlers: E Murphy (0-1f ); TJ Brennan, G McInerney, D Morrissey; P Mannion, D Burke (1-0 ), F Burke (0-1 ); J Cooney (0-5 ), R Glennon (0-1 ); C Cooney, T Monaghan (0-3 ), E Niland (0-10, 6fs ); K Cooney (0-3 ), C Whelan, D McLoughlin. Subs: B Concannon for McLoughlin (35 ), J Grealish for Brennan (35 ), S Linnane for F Burke (43 ), J Flynn (0-1 ) for Glennon (49 ), L Collins for C Cooney (64 ).


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