Since last Saturday evening’s disappointing six-point defeat to Dublin in the Leinster championship semi-final, it appears a large number of Galway supporters were not surprised by the paucity of the hurlers’ display.
It seems many supporters – and this is not just hindsight – did not believe John McIntyre’s team had the capacity to beat Dublin.
Following their heavy defeat at the hands of Tipperary in Pearse Stadium in the league; their defeat to Waterford in the final game of the league; and the performance against Westmeath in the first round of the Leinster championship, belief in the team is at a very low ebb.
Unfortunately after last Saturday night’s systems failure, that faith will be almost extinguished in some quarters.
It was not only losing, but the manner of the loss, that has rattled Galway hurling supporters to the core.
Being beaten after doing your best and leaving it all on the field is fine. There is no shame in being beaten by a better team. However what was disappointing about the hurlers in Tullamore is that they never really tore into the game like they were expected to and needed to.
Galway’s first touch was poor
Their first touch was extremely poor and there was little evidence of team play or unity of purpose. They looked like, and played like, a group of individuals more than a cohesive and unified team. The drive and cutting that is needed to win championship games was badly lacking. We have all admired championship winning teams at all levels in the GAA, but last Saturday evening Galway looked a long way from one.
The fact that only three Galway players of the 20 who saw action raised a flag is a terrible sign of how they played and nine scores in 75 minutes of championship hurling on a June evening was an appalling return.
Dublin closed up the middle, played it simple, and just blew everything out of their way.
They steamrolled Galway all over the field and outscored them by 0-16 to 0-5 between the ninth and 54th minute. There are numerous examples and stats which indicate how far off the pace Galway were for the entire contest.
The reality is that Dublin knocked Galway out of the Leinster championship with ease and still looked quite comfortable, even when down to 14 men for the last 15 minutes after Ryan O’ Dwyer was red carded for a stupid wild pull. Instead of using the extra man and the wind to really rein in Dublin on the home stretch, Galway shot six wides and appeared genuinely headless in their efforts to make any inroads into Dublin’s lead.
Team manager John McIntyre tried to be positive in what was a hapless situation for him and his management team.
"I appreciate that the critics are going to have a field day. We have to live with that for the next fortnight, but we're going to stay together, stay united, and hopefully the players will avail of the opportunity [in the qualifiers against Clare] to retrieve their reputations.
"It's the ultimate test of character now for everybody associated with this Galway senior hurling team .We still have an opportunity on Saturday week to get back on track. If we don't avail of that opportunity, well then the consequences are severe for both this panel of players and the team management."
In the second phase All-Ireland hurling qualifier games, Galway will play Clare on July 2 at 7pm in Pearse Stadium, while Limerick and Wexford meet in the Gaelic Grounds at 5pm.
Galway: J Skehill, D Joyce, D Collins, F Moore, S Kavanagh, T Og Regan, A Cullinane, D Burke, B Daly, J Gantley 1-3, C Donnellan, E Ryan, D Hayes, J Canning 1-3 (2fs ), A Callanan. Subs: A Kerins 0-1 for Ryan (ht ), D Barry for Daly (48 ), K Hynes for Burke (56 ), A Harte for Hayes (62 ), J Coen for Callanan (65 ).