There was a positive vibe in Pearse Stadium on Sunday after a young and new-look Galway side comprehensively defeated Dublin by 0-20 to 0-13 in the first round of the league.
Anthony Cunningham, Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny, having jettisoned many experienced players, are putting their faith in a youth policy which may take time to pay dividends.
Eight of last year's All-Ireland winning u-21 team started and two more came off the bench, which was just one of the many positive aspects from the victory.
These young players, alongside experienced players like David Collins, Damien Hayes, Cyril Donnellan, Iarla Tannian, Tony Óg Regan and team captain Fergal Moore, came up trumps with a hard-working and notable display. They tore into everything with gusto and the crowd ppreciated their attitude and desire to get a winning start.
Galway stood up to Dublin’s physicality, and when the ball was there to be won, it was usually the Galway men who emerged in possession.
“We went toe to toe with them for ruck ball and our first half was very good,” said coach Mattie Kenny. “Our work-rate was exceptionally good and we were in a reasonably good position at half time. It was nice to get two points on the board and we will take it one step at a time.”
Oranmore’s Niall Burke was a revelation at centre-forward and had a superb league debut, scoring 0-10 with some effortless strokes. St Thomas’ Conor Cooney landed four, while clubmate James Regan hit 0-3. Another u-21 winner, Niall Donoghue, also had a storming game at wing-back. Fergal Moore and David Collins anchored the defence well, and Declan Connolly also caught the eye.
Dublin were lethargic and one-paced, mustering a single point from play in the second half.
Despite the win, Galway manager Anthony Cunningham said Galway are not getting carried away.
"We have the raw materials - that would be the clear message from last Sunday. We have the players - the question is how much we can develop."
Galway: J Skehill, D Connolly, D Collins, G O'Halloran, T Óg Regan, F Moore (cpt ), N Donoghue, D Burke, C Donnellan, C Cooney, N Burke, I Tannian, D Hayes, B Daly, J Regan. Subs: J Coen 6 for Daly (35 ), E Ryan 5 for Donnellan (59 ), B Burke for Regan (61 ), J Cooney for C Cooney (69 ).
Hurling supporters AGM
The annual general meeting of the Galway Hurling Supporters’ Club will take place next Monday evening at 8pm in the Lough Rea Hotel, Loughrea. In order for Galway Hurling to thrive, it needs support, so the organisers are urging anyone who can make a contribution and would like to get involved to attend.