Hurlers get the job done efficiently to move on to semi-final in August

The Galway senior hurlers produced an impressive 70 minutes of hurling on Sunday in Croke Park and did what was needed to annex a second Leinster title for the county, adding to the O'Keeffe Cup won in 2012.

Míchéal Donoghue's men produced a strong third quarter and came out after half-time intent on putting the game to bed. They did so with some powerful displays up front from Conor Cooney, who was immense, Joseph Cooney, with 0-5 from play, and Niall Burke, who won a few important puck-outs and hit two good scores.

Joe Canning was not as influential as usual, and did not appear to be moving freely, yet he hit 0-10 from placed balls and was always creative when he had ball in hand.

While Conor Whelan did not score, he worked hard closing down defenders, and was especially good at harrying Wexford sweeper Shaun Murphy to good effect. Whelan was also fouled for a few scored frees and he is a player who is really grafting, and encapsulates all that is good about the team ethic.

Galway won easily in the end and were full value for their nine-point victory, by 0-29 to 1-17.

Once they hit seven points without response between the 42nd and 50th minute to put nine points between the sides, they were never going to be caught.

Powerful men

Galway totally dominated the aerial battles in the last 40 minutes and they have some really powerful and tall men in key positions that augurs well for the upcoming semi-final on August 6.

From Daithí Burke at full-back, who had a fine game, except for the one big lapse of concentration that allowed Jack Guiney in to set up Diarmuid O'Keefe's goal on 52 minutes, up to Conor Cooney in the full-forward line, Galway have men who can win the ball in the air.

And as Kilkenny have proved repeatedly in the past decade or more, a team that can win the puck-outs consistently on both ends of the field, is difficult to beat.

Goalkeeper Colm Callanan deserves plenty of credit too for the excellence of many of his restarts. The Kinvara man is like a fine wine, and seems to be getting better with age. At times last Sunday he was like a quarter-back with stunning accuracy to find his men from the puck-out.

In the space of three minutes in the second half he pinged the ball directly up to Niall Burke - first on one wing and then Joseph Cooney on the other - both won the ball over their opponents, and scored on the turn.

Wexford had no answer to such power and accuracy.

McInerney at centre back

In defence both Gearóid McInerney and Pádraig Mannion won some good ball in the air. McInerney played a really intelligent game and played to his strengths all the time.

A powerful man at 6' 3" and almost 16 stone - according to the match programme - he won a truck load of ball around the middle of the defence and then just hand-passed the sliotar neatly out to his wingmen to drive it down the field.

At times he reminded me of top Kilkenny defenders from the past such as Pat O'Neill, Peter Barry, Brian Hogan and Jackie Tyrrell, who always did the simple things neatly and with no real fuss - get the ball. Do the right thing with it. Get it up to the scoring men. And then get back to marking your man and holding your position.

McInerney's ongoing improvement in the centre-back position is a big plus for Galway and will be a key part of the jigsaw if Galway are to go on and win a first Liam McCarthy since 1988.

Aidan Harte, who was utilised as the free defender, and John Hansbury both had good performances in what was a solid team performance.

It was nice to see young Thomas Monaghan hit over a late point too as he buzzed around with intent after he came on for an out-of-sorts Jason Flynn.

Monaghan's yellow card from Cork's Colm Lyons left a good few fans scratching their heads too as it appeared that the Craughwell man had only stood his ground.

The management team will be keeping their fingers crossed none of the squad will pick up any injuries in the club championship over the next week or two and that Cathal Mannion will be back to full fitness over the next fortnight too.

Galway are in a good place at the moment. They are on the back of nine victories on the spin since their defeat to Wexford in the league and they have a lot of momentum.

Confidence is high in the squad and they will be watching with interest to see who they will face in the last four in four weeks.

As team captain David Burke pointed out after collecting the O' Keeffe Cup.

"It is only July and All-Irelands are not won in July."

A lot done.....more to do.


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