Galway 0-26 Limerick 1-17
It might be early in the summer to be celebrating slaying the jolly green giants, but Galway and manager Shane O'Neill will have sown some doubt in the minds of all-conquering Limerick, when they matched them physically to outshoot them in front of the empty stands at Pearse Stadium today (Sunday )
It has been a few years since the All-Ireland and league champions had suffered defeat, but ending that run was not what motivated Galway, said O’Neill afterwards.
“Beforehand we were looking for a performance more than a result, but we are delighted to have produced both outcomes.
“Performance wise, we played well and it is still so early in the season and we still have a lot of work to do. I think playing the way we did to score 26 points was great and overall, I am happy with the result.
“Limerick’s unbeaten run was not something that we had discussed as a group or with the players. The nature of the competition this year in that you have five league game in six weeks means you are going from week to week, so the focus now is on the game against Tipp next Saturday. It is a very short turn around, a lunchtime throw in, so we have to get the guys right for that.
“We weren’t out to put a dent in Limerick’s aura, we were just out to perform and if we got a win, that’s fantastic. But we have played two matches and have a hundred per cent record so far and we are going to try to maintain that next week. If we perform exceptionally well and don’t win, I won’t be disappointed, because it is all preparation for the championships as far as we are concerned.”
He denied that Galway had strategically gone toe to toe with Limerick.
‘We weren’t looking at Limerick, we were looking to get the most out of ourselves and some of our movement and our striking was excellent. We defended tightly and that was great."
He said that they played Joe Canning as a sub in the middle of the field to give him more space in which to ease himself back.
Limerick manager John Kiely admitted that Galway were the better side, but said that he was disappointed by the number of frees given in the game.
“This is a worry for the game. Having seen two games, I have major concerns about where this game is going. It appears that for the last four months while we have been at home, the game has changed and somebody has decided to take the tackle out of the game.
“I’d love to know who they were and when that was decided because we had nobody here watching the game today, and in twelve months time we are not going to have anyone here watching it either if there are going to be 36 frees and 60 restarts. The people at home were saved twenty euros by not being here. This was not the spectacle that we would like to be a part of.
‘I completely agree that some of the frees are our fault, but when a player has the ball and runs at you, and then throws himself to the ground, that is embarrassing and is not part of our game.
‘There were some clear examples of simulation there today and this was very embarrassing. None of us want to see that come in as part of our game,” he said, adding Limerick have a lot of work to do to this summer.
"Our performance was not good enough today. We fell short in a number of key areas, use of the ball, breaking ball situations, all the things that you need to be doing in order to win matches,” he said.
There were many highlights for Galway however, especially from Padraic Mannion and Conor Whelan; and the return to play of Joe Canning who looked sharp after his introduction in the last quarter. Up until that point, his replacement as free taker Evan Niland continued to shoot out the lights. Speaking afterwards, Niland said it was important for Galway to lay down a marker to their vaunted opponents.
"Limerick had beaten us last year and in 2018, so it was important to get one back on them. They are obviously an unreal team and we want to get to the same level as them. It is nice to get the victory and lay down a marker for the year and to give us good confidence going forward.”
He modestly paid tribute to the hard work of his colleagues in earning the frees that he was just happy to knock over.
"I did the easy bit. They did the hard work winning those frees, and I just had to tap them over.”
He said that it was encouraging that Galway did not capitulate after Limerick hit back with Flanagan's goal.
"In the past when we get a good score ourselves, we nearly mess it up by letting in a handy score, so when they got the goal, it was the opposite and we kicked on from there and we got three scores soon enough."
He said that the panel is very strong and that competition is tough for places.
'We definitely have a strong panel with lot of young players coming through, and hopefully we can push on from here," he said. "Tipp have two draws and they will be out for the win next week. Three weeks in a row for us is tough going, but we take good confidence from this game and we look forward with confidence to next week,” he said.
Galway were impressive from the start, hitting fourteen points from 17 shots in that first half during which a Flanagan goal for Limerick failed to dent the home side’s belief. Gearoid Hegarty was a huge presence for the visitors and when his pass was lashed home by Flanagan, it seemed much of Galway’s work would be undone. It was not to be though, and Niland’s efficiency from the placed ball kept Galway ahead from there on in.
Next step is Semple Stadium on Saturday at 1.30 when they will meet a Tipp team frustrated by two draws in their opening games.
Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 0-13 (13fs ), Conor Whelan 0-3, David Burke, Cathal Mannion, and Joe Canning (1f ) 0-2 each, Niall Burke, Ja Mannion, Brian Concannon, and Niall Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: David Reidy 0-8 (7fs ), Aaron Gillane 0-4 (2fs ), Seamus Flanagan 1-0, Gearoid Hegarty and Peter Casey 0-2 each, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-1 (f ).
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Sean Loftus, Gearoid McInerney, Jack Fitzpatrick; Adrian Tuohey, Padraic Mannion, Fintan Burke; David Burke, Cathal Mannion; Joseph Cooney, Evan Niland, Brian Concannon; Conor Whelan, Niall Burke, Ja Mannion.
Subs: Johnny Coen for D Burke (35+2 ), Darren Morrissey for Loftus (47 ), Joe Canning for J Cooney (50 ), Shane Cooney for Tuohey (50 ), Jason Flynn for Mannion (56 ).
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Richie English, Dan Morrissey, Aaron Costello; Diarmaid Byrnes, Kyle Hayes, Barry Nash; William O'Donoghue, Brian O'Grady; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, David Reidy; Cathal O'Neill, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.
Subs: Aaron Gillane for O'Neill (HT ), Darragh O'Donovan for O'Grady (HT ), Brian Ryan for English (56 ), Adrian Breen for Casey (60 ), Tom Morrissey for Reidy (63 ).
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford ).