Hurlers advance to the Leinster final with ease
Galway advanced to the 2012 Leinster final with ease on Sunday, overcoming Offaly in Portlaoise by 14 points, 5-23 to 3-15.
When big Conor Cooney, posted at full-forward in a realigned Galway attack, struck for his first goal in the fifth minute, and pounced for a second a minute later, the writing was on the wall for Offaly whose leaking defence was not able for a sweet-moving Galway attack.
And, when David Burke struck Galway's third to leave them leading by 3-1 to 1-1, the game started taking on a surreal feel.
Offaly rallied after Galway's third goal, and scored five unanswered points, mainly through the impressive Shane Dooley, but there was no real feeling that they could retain the momentum and Galway quickly reasserted themselves.
Galway’s fourth goal came just before half time when a quick, incisive move by the Galway attack presented Damien Hayes with a chance which he finished deftly to the Offaly net to leave Galway leading by 4-11 to 1-10 at half time.
Offaly were 10 points behind and they did not look capable of staging a second-half revival.
"That goal was a killer,” said Offaly manager Ollie Baker. “We had missed a few chances ourselves and when Galway scored their fourth goal so close to half time, it left us with an awful lot to do."
They needed a whirlwind start to the second half to give themselves any chance, but instead they were hit for five points, four from placed balls by Joe Canning.
While Galway still leaked too many scores (3-15) - such an easy going approach at the back would not suffice against the likes of Kilkenny - there were positives.
Andy Smith and Iarla Tannian exerted a powerful influence at midfield while the inter-changeability of the attack created all sorts of scoring options. Cyril Donnellan and Damien Hayes played high energy, creative roles. Conor Cooney started with all guns blazing, but seemed to lose his way after his early blitz of the Offaly rearguard.
It was good to see Joe Canning back in action too and the 70 minutes of championship will have brought him on.
The Galway hurlers have beaten the two teams, Westmeath and Offaly, to get to the Leinster final. And they could do no more than that.
The question now is whether they can step up to the next level and beat the likes of Kilkenny in a top-class championship tie.
The answer to that will be provided on Sunday July 8 at Croke Park.
Scorers for Galway: J Canning 0-11 (5f, 4 '65s'), C Cooney 2-0, D Hayes 1-3, D Burke 1-1, D Glennon 1-0, C Donnellan 0-3, I Tannian 0-2, N Burke, T Haran, J Regan 0-1 each.
Galway: J Skehill, N Donohue, K Hynes, F Moore (cpt), J Coen, T Óg Regan, J Cooney, I Tannian, A Smith, D Burke, N Burke, C Donnellan, D Hayes, J Canning, CCooney. Subs: P Gordon for Donoghue (31), J Glynn for N Burke (50), J Regan for C Cooney (55), T Haran for Tannian (60), D Glennon for Donnellan (64).