It may seem churlish to nit-pick when a team wins a championship game by 10 points, but the Galway management team and the Galway players will know they will have to be much more imposing and tight at the back when they face Offaly on June 17 in Portlaoise in the Leinster semi-final (2pm throw-in ).
Galway won last weekend by 5-19 to 4-12. By half-time they led by 1-12 to 0-4, and the game was over as a contest at that juncture. However what will concern the Galway management team was that Westmeath were allowed to score 4-8 in the second half, and Westmeath’s Brendan Murtagh caused such havoc when he was repositioned to the edge of the square from wing-forward.
Admittedly it was a lack of concentration by Galway that led to some of Westmeath’s late scores. The visitors lead by 5-16 to 2-9 going into the final few minutes, and seemed to take their foot off the gas as Westmeath pilfered a few quick goals.
However against better opposition such a lack of ruthlessness and concentration in the full-back line would be punished more severely. If Galway are harbouring ambitions of annexing a first Leinster senior hurling title, they will need to learn to play at a high intensity for the full 70-plus minutes of action. Fits and starts of high quality play will not suffice.
It is expected David Collins and Joe Canning will be back for the joust with Offaly in O’Moore Park on Sunday week which is a major positive. Offaly will be a different proposition than a gallant and hard-working Westmeath, particularly up front where Joe Bergin and Shane Dooley must have looked at the Galway rear-guard last Sunday afternoon and said to themselves “there will be goals for us when we play them”.
Galway manager Anthony Cunningham was pleased to advance to the Leinster semi-final. In many ways last weekend was a no-win situation for him and his players. A 10-point win can be put in the “job-done” category and the team moves on to tougher challenges.
Cunningham is a realist and he acknowledged after the win that the opposition will keep improving.
"It’s coming on nicely, but you can never trust it, can you? A big score on the board and we have another win under our belts, so a lot of positives to be taken from the game. But we did take our eye off the ball a bit. Offaly now in two weeks’ time, and that’s going to be some battle.
"They had a great win on Saturday night [defeating Wexford]. They would have felt a few years ago [2010 when Galway advanced on a score-line of 3-17 to 2-18, after a replay] that they should have beaten Galway, so we’ll have to be very careful in that match."
Cunningham is also hopeful that key forward Joe Canning will be able to feature in that tie.
"He has improved a good bit, but, medically, they were saying not to chance him. We’re hopeful he’ll be back for the next day. He has a ligament strain on the AC joint. We could probably have played him if it was later on in the championship, but we want to give him as much time as we can to have him right.”
Scorers for Galway: N Burke 0-8 (6f, 2 65 ), D Burke 2-1, J Regan 1-2, A Smith 1-1, C Donnellan 1-1, C Cooney, D Hayes, I Tannian, 0-2 each.
Galway: F Flannery, F Moore, K Hynes, N Donoghue, P Gordon, T Og Regan, J Coen, I Tannian, D Burke, A Smith, N Burke, C Donnellan, D Glennon, C Cooney, D Hayes. Subs: J Regan for Glennon (21 ), J Glynn for Cooney (50 ), B Flaherty for Gordon (52 ), R Cummins for Donnellan (61 ), P Brehony for N Burke (69 ).