An appeal over the dismissal and possible suspension of Galway centre-half back Ian McGlynn was one of the main talking points from Sunday’s one-sided semi-final in Croke Park, in which Galway bossed Wexford from the early minutes and eventually cruised into a third successive final.
McGlynn received a straight red card on 36 minutes which will potentially rule him out of the rematch with Kilkenny in the decider when referee Colm Cunning adjudged he had struck Luke Kavanagh off the ball. McGlynn was understandably irate with the decision and Galway will hope that it can be overturned.
The Kilconieron man was at the heart of a dominant defensive display by Galway until then, albeit against an uncharacteristically lifeless Wexford attack. The Leinster champions had just four scores on the board when McGlynn departed, and Galway were comfortably able to keep them at arm’s length despite the numerical disadvantage.
Galway got their match-ups spot on from the start, assigning Christy Brennan the job of shackling Wexford danger man AJ Redmond, while full back Eoin Lawless picked up David Cantwell. Galway manager Brian Hanley trusted his backs to win their battles in one-on-one duels, and they duly did so with remarkable efficiency.
Sarsfields’ John Cooney did not look out of place on his first championship start of the year in the half back line, Enda Collins and Adam Nolan held their own, while Michael Egan was rock solid in goals when called upon to make a couple of important saves.
For the second game running Alex Connaire registered the game’s first score for Galway inside a minute, before Seán McDonagh whipped over a fine score from the left sideline. Brennan importantly blocked Redmond’s first shot before McDonagh drove over the first of a series of placed balls from a tight angle.
Galway were five up by the end of the first quarter and Wexford were unable to get their sizeable group of supporters involved until Cantwell found a pocket of space in front of the Cusack Stand and fired over a good score. Redmond floated deeper and deeper as the half progressed in an attempt to escape Brennan’s attention, but with Galway emerging from the majority of rucks with possession they were fighting an uphill battle.
McDonagh was unerringly accurate in punishing any Wexford indiscretions and by the end of the half Galway were 0-10 to 0-3 to the good. A Wexford backlash was expected, but Galway were in no mood to allow them to build any momentum as McDonagh clipped over his eighth point within 15 seconds of the restart.
After McGlynn’s red card, Galway reopened a nine-point lead when Gavin Lee scored not long after his introduction. Egan denied Cantwell at the other end with a brave block before Tiernan Killeen added his second point of the game.
Wexford, who had rearranged their forward at half time with two changes, desperately needed a goal to ignite their challenge, but they were unable to find a way through the disciplined Galway rearguard, and with McDonagh in fine form and Greg Thomas a willing and effective target for a series of long puck-outs, Galway were in total command.
A nasty incident in the very last minute of injury time when a melee broke out near the Galway goal saw both Kyle Scallan and Cian Molloy sent off to further add to Wexford’s humiliation, while the lengthy spell of treatment required for Shane Morgan who appeared to be concussed will be a worry for Hanley as he begins preparations for a first All-Ireland minor final clash against Kilkenny since 2009.
Galway: M Egan; A Nolan, E Lawless, C Brennan; E Collins, I McGlynn, J Cooney; L Leen, A Connaire (0-2 ); T Killeen (0-2 ), S McDonagh (0-12, 9fs ), C Cunningham (0-1 ); G Thomas (0-1 ), S Morgan, R Davitt. Subs: G Lee (0-1 ) for Davitt (40 mins ), S O’Hanlon for Cunningham (48 mins ), P Cummins (0-1 ) for Leen (51 mins ), E Davoren for Collins (55 mins ), O Slevin for Killeen (63 mins ).
Wexford: C Byrne; J Conroy, K Scallan, D Whelan; J Moran, C Molloy, D Codd; J Kirwan, L Kavanagh (0-1 ); J Shiel (0-1 ), P Whitty, D O’Neill; AJ Redmond (0-5fs ), D Cantwell (0-2 ), R Lawlor (0-1 ). Subs: C Byrne (0-1f ) for O’Neill (30 mins ), C Browne for Whitty (30 mins ), C Foley for Shiel (46 mins ), D O’Leary for Kirwan (48 mins ), O Pepper for Redmond (56 mins ).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim ).