Hurlers display against Laois is a cause for concern

Galway's Joe Canning puts Joe Fitzpatrick of Laois under pressure in action from the Leinster Hurling Championship game at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise on Sunday. 
Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Joe Canning puts Joe Fitzpatrick of Laois under pressure in action from the Leinster Hurling Championship game at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

At half time on Sunday in O’Moore Park in the Leinster Hurling Championship quarter-final, Laois led by 0-16 to 1-7, and Galway looked in trouble.

There was no flair to their forward play, no pace to their hurling, and they could not break down the Laois rearguard. Indeed, the home outfit looked the better side for the entire second quarter.

To be fair to the Galway players and to their credit, they responded well in adversity and held the Laois side to seven points in the second half, and scored 15 of their own to win by 1-22 to 0-23.

However, after such a performance, there must be genuine questions as to their championship credentials for the coming weeks.

Is the side going to whimper out of the 2014 Leinster championship as they did in 2013, having been heavily defeated by Dublin in the Leinster final?

Assuming Kilkenny defeat Offaly this weekend in Nowlan Park, it will be a Kilkenny/Galway semi-final on June 22, and that will be a distinct step-up in quality of opposition from last Sunday.

Laois had benefited from their series of round-robin games and, for the second year in a row, their defence left Galway struggling to make any significant impact.

Galway team manager Anthony Cunningham and his backroom team of Damien Curley and Eugene Cloonan will know a big improvement is needed if they are to advance to the Leinster final which is fixed for July 6.

Cunningham rightly praised his charges for their character.

“It took great character from us in the second half. Laois are a very good team and the hurling public have to acknowledge that. It was a great match for us and a great match to win,” he said.

“Our lads had to show their character and they had to presevere. We started well (going up by 1-3 to 0-0 ) and then we had 20 minutes when we were out of sorts. However, we knew we had the skill and the capability to come back, but mentally we had to show it.”

Cunningham admitted his side will need to up their performance for the challenges ahead.

“Our first-half performance would be off the pace of championship hurling. However, we got some great scores in the second half and that is something we can build on. We will have to put 70 minutes of that together. The proof will be in three weeks’ time to see how we have kicked on from the Laois game. It will not be easy in the Leinster semi-final against either Offaly or Kilkenny, but that is the challenge facing us and we are not shirking from it.”

Galway team v Laois: Colm Callanan, Fergal Moore, Ronan Burke, David Collins (0-1 ), Aidan Harte, Iarlaith Tannian (0-1 ), Daithi Burke, Johnny Coen (0-1 ), Padraig Brehony (0-2 ), Conor Cooney (0-7, 0-3 fs ), Niall Burke (0-2 ), David Burke (0-1 ), Cathal Mannion (0-1 ), Joe Canning (0-2 ) (Cpt ), Jonathan Glynn (1-0 ), Subs used: D Hayes for David Burke (48 ), J Flynn (0-3 ) for Mannion (51 ), P Killeen (0-1 ) for Harte (64 ), D Glennon for Glynn (70 ).

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