Hurlers hoping for more clarity and vision in Laois

The Galway senior hurlers will be hoping for better visibility in Duggan Park on Sunday when they take on Laois in round three of the Walsh Cup after farcical scenes brought a premature end to their opening competitive game of 2024 last Sunday.

With 55 minutes played in Tullamore against Offaly and leading by 4-15 to 1-11, sense finally prevailed when a pitch shrouded in dense fog for the entirety of the contest was deemed a risk to player safety. Quite why it took this length of time for referee David Hughes to reach this conclusion, only he can answer, but there was no doubt it was the right call.

Henry Shefflin had given debuts to two defenders with Ardrahan’s Michael Walsh and Loughrea’s Shane Morgan both selected in a side that only featured three of the starters from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final loss to Limerick, those being Éanna Murphy, Gearóid McInerney, and Cianan Fahy.

Despite the conditions Galway dominated proceedings in the first half and led by twelve at the interval. Sarsfields John Cooney struck for two goals while Portumna’s Declan McLoughlin grabbed the other in a free-scoring encounter, while Offaly’s Charlie Mitchell profited when Galway ‘keeper Murphy lost the flight of the sliotar in the fog.

There were scoring contributions from the Loughrea duo Tiernan Killeen and Jamie Ryan, while Donal O’Shea and Gavin Lee formed a novel midfield partnership.

With news filtering through of cancellations at other venues around the country, it seemed bizarre that this contest would continue, but on it went. Alex Connaire and Daniel Loftus were hoping to catch the eye after being introduced, but soon after Jason Flynn netted a penalty, referee Hughes brought proceedings to a halt after players on both sides were unable to track the flight of the ball in open play.

Whether this game will be replayed or not is as yet unknown but surely sense will prevail in awarding the contest to Galway, especially considering the sides will face each other again in the opening round of the league. Shefflin’s side will now take on Laois in their home contest in Ballinasloe with a semi-final place potentially up for grabs.

Willie Maher’s side were 2-18 to 0-18 winners over Offaly in their first round game with goals from Mark Dowling and Enda Rowland in either half proving decisive under the lights in Portlaoise.

GALWAY: E Murphy; S Morgan, TJ Brennan, M Walsh; C Fahy (0-1 ), G McInerney, T Killeen (0-2 ); D O’Shea (0-2fs ), G Lee (0-3 ); J Ryan (0-2 ), J Flynn (1-4, 1-0 pen, 4fs ), J Cooney (2-1 ); K Cooney, M McManus, D. McLaughlin (1-0 ). Subs: A Connaire for Ryan (48 ), D Loftus for Flynn (54 ).

OFFALY: S Corcoran; C King, C Byrne, B Conneely; D Shirley, J Sampson, S Bourke (0-1 ); J Clancy, L Watkins; D Bourke (0-1 ), K Sampson, D Nally; E Kelly, C Mitchell (1-0 ), E Cahill (0-9, 8fs ). Subs: L Fox for Clancy (30 ), A. Screeney for Watkins (30 ), E Cleary for Corcoran (48 ).

REFEREE: D Hughes.


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