Galway hurlers blow hot and cold, then hot again


In September 1997 Clare beat Tipperary in the All Ireland final by a point, 0-20 to 2-13. So when Davy Fitzgerald, who was the best goal-keeper in the country in those years, after watching his side suffer a heavy-nine point defeat to Galway last Sunday evening said: "You don't win any championships in the month of February", it would have been rude not to nod sagaciously and agree.

That said, every journey must have a starting point and Galway clocked up another two points and hit the opposition for 4-15 without the Portumna boys in their ranks last Sunday.

They raced into an early lead with goals from Niall Healy and Iarla Tannian, but then sat back and let Waterford come back and lead at half-time by 1-08 to 2-3.

That Galway allowed Waterford to hit them for 1-6 without reply in the 25 minutes leading up to half-time will be something the management team considers over the coming week.

John McIntyre was not impressed: “We didn’t score for 23 minutes of the first half which is criminal. At least half-time came at the right time for us because it allowed us to re-focus and address what went wrong.”

Whatever was said at half-time did the trick as Galway regained the initiative with ease at the start of the second half and proceeded to take the Waterford defence apart. The power and height of Joe Gantley and Iarla Tannian caused the Waterford full-back line lots of problems and led to plenty of scoring opportunities. The Beagh man did well and provided a genuine focal point for the attack - hitting four points himself - but crucially setting up both Tannian and Harte for goals in either half.

Another positive for Galway was the good form from David Collins at number seven. After his injury woes, he has a massive appetite for the fray, and his enthusiasm and joy at being back inside the white lines on match day can only be a major positive for the panel.

Ger Farragher has bulked up too and he did a lot of solid graft at midfield. On numerous occasions he barrelled into Waterford men and made space to drive ball into his inside men. He displayed positive aggression which was good to see.

Aonghus Callanan also caught the eye with his work-rate and industry at wing-forward and he foraged well.

Waterford were missing some established players, but you can only beat what’s in front of you and that is what Galway have done since the start of the year.

According to the Waterford manager, Galway are up there with the top teams in the country.

“They were awesome, absolutely super. They will be very hard to stop this year. They have a very strong panel and they totally outclassed us today.”

Galway have no league game this weekend and the bigger tests start when they travel to take on Tipperary on March 14. Tipp went down heavily to Dublin last Sunday so they will be well revved up for Galway’s visit.

As John McIntyre pointed out after the game, “Tipp losing to Dublin is unfortunate from our perspective. You don’t want to give Tipp a cause and now they have a big one.”

However, playing the likes of Tipp and Kilkenny in their home grounds in the coming weeks will tell us more about the potential for success later on in the year.

GALWAY: C Callanan; F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Joyce; D Barry, T Óg Regan, D Collins (0-1 ); G Farragher (0-3, two frees ), N Cahalan (0-2 ); A Callanan (0-1 ), C Donnellan, A Harte (1-1 ); I Tannian (2-2 ), J Gantley (0-4 ), N Healy (1-1 ). Subs: E Ryan for Healy (57 mins ), K Hynes for Donnellan (65 mins ), D Burke for Tannian (66 mins ).

WATERFORD: A Power; A Kearney, L Lawlor, N Connors; D Prendergast, M Walsh, J Murray; J Nagle (0-1 ), R Foley (0-2 ); M Shanahan (0-9, 7 frees ), K Moran, T Connors (0-1 ); S Walsh (1-1 ), G Hurney, S Molumphy (0-1 ). Subs: M Doherty for Prendergast (half-time ), E McGrath for Murray (44 mins ), E Whelan for Foley (51 mins ), M O'Brien for Lawlor (57 mins ), T Ryan for Moran (67 mins ).



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