The Galway hurlers will head up the motorway on Saturday afternoon to Parnell Park with a bounce in their step. They take on Dublin (7pm ) in round two of the NHL after an impressive enough start to the league.
Micheál Donoghue’s side secured a solid win over Cork last weekend in Pearse Stadium, winning by 1-27 to 1-21.
They were good value for their victory and, in all honesty, they should have cruised home even easier than they did against a lethargic Cork outfit.
Galway had some fine individual displays with team captain David Burke leading by example from midfield. He stroked home three lovely points from distance, linked a lot of play too, and looked in great shape for the year ahead.
Davy Glennon also had a fine afternoon and hit 0-4 from play before he tired in the final quarter. Glennon’s workrate and application was noteworthy and he secured a lot of ball in broken play and was a constant thorn for the Cork defenders.
It was also great to see big Niall Burke back to full fitness and the Oranmore-Maree man was a real handful for the Cork defence, hitting 1-2.
His goal came from a lovely flick down by Joe Canning, who looked lively all through the contest and drifted around the forward line to leave a two man full-forward line where Conor Whelan also looked dangerous as the game progressed.
The Galway team manager was realistic in his assessment of the game, saying it was very early in the season. However however, he was understandably pleased to have started an extremely competitive league with a win.
“The boys’ attitude and application has been top class," he said. "I am not going to get carried away with the performance. We tired a bit in the second half and our shot selection has to improve, but look, we are happy for the first day of the league.
"They are an honest bunch and we knew we would get a good performance. It is early yet, only February, and the first game of the league, but it was important to get back up and running, and to get two points on the board was a bonus.”
Galway superior throughout
Galway was the superior team thoughout the contest. They won nearly all of the physical battles, hitting 1-15 in the first half to Cork’s 1-9, to give themselves a good platform for a win.
There could have been four or more points too for the home side, but for some haphazard shooting.
However, the forward movement was good and there was some nice combination play and clever support running with Padraig Brehony and Cathal Mannion working well in the half-forward line.
With 20 minutes to go the game took on a bit of a surreal atmosphere.
Galway led by 1-21 to 1-12 at that stage and it felt in the stand as if both sets of players knew the tie had been decided barring a Galway collapse and Cork getting a goal or two. The 5,800 people in attendance went quiet too and seemed to be wondering if they would walk the Prom or go straight home after the final whistle.
Dublin will provide a different challenge this Saturday. They beat Galway easily enough in the Walsh Cup, winning by nine points, but Galway supporters will be expecting a far better display by their team in four days' time. Galway are 8/11 favourites to win, with Dublin at 11/8.
Those odds are probably based on the fact that Ger Cunningham’s team were well beaten by Tipperary in Semple Stadium last weekend on a scoreline of 1-23 to 0-12 and Dublin only managed 0-3 in the first half.
They were nine points behind at that stage and it would have been much worse only that Tipp registered 10 wides in that half alone.
Cunningham, who replaced Anthony Daly two years ago, was disappointed with his side’s display.
“We were thinking we had a good pre-season preparation. But the National League is a different level. It’s a higher level completely. You’re playing some of the top teams in the country on any given weekend. That’s the challenge. We thought we prepared well and we wanted to put up a better challenge than we did. We’ll have to move on quickly and Galway will be another massive test next weekend.”
Galway: J Skehill, J Coen, J Hanbury, P Hoban, P Mannion, G Lally (0-1,f ), A Harte (0-1 ), A Tuohy, D Burke (0-3 ), P Brehony (0-2 ), C Mannion (0-2 ), N Burke (1-2 ), C Whelan (0-3 ), J Canning (0-9, 7 fs, ), D Glennon (0-4 ). Subs: D Collins for Tuohy (HT ); J Flynn for Glennon (55 ); A Smith for Harte and F Moore for Hoban (66 ).