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Walsh stars for Tribesmen but experience and nous of Dublin sees them book semi-final spot

Updated: May 31, 2021

DUBLIN 2-16 - 1-15 Galway

By Tom McLoughlin

For large parts of this afternoon in Tuam, Galway took the fight to the All-Ireland champions and the game was still in the melting pot until second half injury time when substitute Aaron Byrne burst through the Galway rear-guard to rifle a shot to the top corner of Bernard Power’s net. In stark contrast to their dismal and demoralising defeat to Kerry, Galway showed an abundance of work-rate and intensity throughout this contest and despite the result, Padráic Joyce can take plenty of heart from the performance. Shane Walsh was particularly impressive for the Tribesmen, scoring 0-10 on the day and giving a masterclass in ball striking from placed balls. Alas, Walsh’s exploits were not enough to salvage a victory and Galway now face into a tricky trip to Monaghan in two weeks needing a win to maintain their Division One status. For Dublin they can look forward to a semi-final date with Division One North top dogs Donegal.

In keeping with a common trend in this league, Dublin made five late changes from the starting fifteen originally named with Evan Comerford, Robbie McDaid, James McCarthy, Dara Mullin and Paddy Small being replaced by Michael Shiel, Eric Lowndes, Peadar O’Cofaigh- Byrne, Brian Howard and Colm Basquel with the latter in particular impressing. Galway also made two changes with Finian O’Laoi coming in for Eamonn Brannigan and Corofin’s Kieran Molloy replacing the injured Damien Comer who was a huge loss for the Connaught men.

The match started off at a lively pace and Peter Cooke marauded through the Dublin defence in just the first minute to slot over a right footed effort. Paul Conroy doubled Galway’s lead in the 4th minute after some smart teamwork with Robert Finnerty and immediately it was clear that Galway had certainly brought fight to the table. It would take Dublin ten minutes to get on the score sheet through a Brian Fenton mark, the Raven man fielding well from a Brian Howard pass before slotting over for his first point of the day.

Galway had their best goal opportunity of the first half at this stage when defender Sean Kelly found himself in front of the Dublin goal. His goal bound effort went straight into the chest of full back Davy Byrne who was back on the line. Either side of Byrne would surely have raised a green flag but perhaps it was a case of wrong man in front of goal. This missed opportunity for Galway was quickly followed by a Calm Basquel beauty when he fired over a long range effort from near the left hand touchline to bring parity for the Dubs.

For much of the first half, the sides traded scores and in the 20th minute, just before the first water break, Walsh scored his first of the day when he pointed a majestic 45 after goalkeeper Michael Shiel had saved his goal bound dipping shot. This gave Galway a 0-4 to 0-3 lead after the first quarter. On resumption after the water break, Cormac Costello equalised when he took on his marker Jack Glynn to slot over from the tightest of angles. Basquel soon gave Dublin the lead in the 21st minute, collecting a ball in front of Sean Mulberry before swivelling on his right to score a wonderful point.

The Dublin players had visibly upped their intensity and Galway during this period were guilty of a number of turnovers in the tackle. Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O’Callaghan also started to come to the fore. Kilkenny pointed in the 26th minute after some good interplay with O’Callaghan and the Cuala man scored his first of the day in the 31st minute when availing of some good work from Niall Scully to score a simple point off his left. Dublin now led 0-7 to 0-5 but Galway responded with Walsh scoring the next three points for Galway. The second of Walsh’s three points just before the half was arguably the point of the day as the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man profited from some excellent Galway defending to solo half the length of the pitch before firing the ball over the Dublin crossbar. The sides would go in at the break level on a score line of 0-8 each with Galway dominating midfield through Conroy and Cooke and looking quite solid at the back, having not coughed up any goal opportunities of note. The All-Ireland champions were certainly not firing on all cylinders and would need to up the ante in the second half if they were to leave Tuam with victory.

On the resumption of the second half against Kerry last weekend Dublin kept possession for almost five minutes before Cormac Costello fired over. The same trick was repeated this afternoon when Dublin passed and probed for over three minutes before again, that man Costello kicked a wonderful score to give Dublin a lead they would ultimately not relinquish. The key score of the game soon followed in the 39th minute when the Leinster champions scored the first goal of the game. After saving Scully’s effort, Galway keeper Bernard Power’s meek attempt at palming the ball away allowed O’Callaghan to fumble the ball home to the net and Dublin led by four. Power certainly could have been more commanding and should have collected man and ball if necessary.

Cormac Costello, staking his claim for a starting berth, had another fruitful afternoon notching a tally of 0-6 including 0-5 from play. Costello and O’Callaghan scored 1-5 in the third quarter all from play and Galway could just not cope with their pace and movement. Walsh was leading the fight for the Tribesmen, scoring three points during this period, but at times, particularly in the absence of Comer, it felt like he was ploughing a lone furrow in the Galway attack. Dublin led 1-13 to 0-11 at the second water break and it would need a mammoth effort from Joyce’s men to overturn this deficit.

Galway to their credit kept persevering and they cut the deficit to just two points in the 58th minute through a wonderful Matthew Tierney goal. After O’Callaghan’s fisted effort hit the post, Kieran Molloy raced down the field and fed Conroy who lobbed a beautiful floated pass to the edge of the square where Tierney had meandered in behind Cooper to palm the ball to the net ahead of the onrushing Dublin keeper, Shiel. It was a wonderful instinctive finish and perhaps an upset was on the cards with the score now 1-14 to 1-12.

Costello and Walsh traded scores before Ciaran Kilkenny restored a three point lead for the Dubs in the 61st minute with the Castleknock man choosing to fist the ball over the bar when potentially a goal chance was there for the taking. The impressive Cooke replied for the home team after a barnstorming run through the heart of the defence and there were just two points between the sides entering the final stages.

However, the game was put beyond doubt in injury time when following a long bout of Dublin possession, O’Callaghan saw Aaron Byrne running at full pace off his shoulder and slipped Byrne in to rifle the ball past Power thus sending Dublin back with two league points and through to the league semi-finals on a score line of 2-16 to 1-15.

Scorers – Galway: Shane Walsh 0-10 (5 frees, 3 45s), Matthew Tierney 1-0, Peter Cooke 0-2, Paul Conroy 0-1, Robert Finnerty 0-1, Dylan McHugh 0-1

Dublin: Cormac Costello 0-6 (1 free), Con O’Callaghan 1-3, Ciarán Kilkenny 0-3, Aaron Byrne 1-0, Colm Basquel 0-2, Brian Fenton 0-2 (1 mark)

Galway: Bernard Power; Seán Kelly, Seán Mulkerrin, Jack Glynn; Liam Silke, Dylan McHugh, Johnny Heaney; Peter Cooke, Paul Conroy; Paul Kelly, Kieran Molloy, Finian O’Laoi; Matthew Tierney, Shane Walsh, Robert Finnerty Subs: Eamonn Brannigan for P Kelly (45), Ciarán Potter for Glynn (48), Matthias Barrett for O’Laoi (54), Tomo Culhane for Finnerty (59), Tom Flynn for Cooke (64), Johnny Duane for Molloy (64)

Dublin: Michael Shiel; Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne, Seán McMahon; Eoin Murchan, Jonny Cooper, Eric Lowndes; Brian Fenton, Peadar O’Cofaigh-Byrne; Brian Howard, Con O’Callaghan, Niall Scully; Colm Basquel, Ciarán Killenny, Cormac Costello Subs: Seán Bugler for O’Cofaigh-Byrne (51), Robbie McDaid for McMahon (51), Dara Mullin for Scully (66), Aaron Byrne for Basquel (67), Tom Lafiff for Cooper (70)

Venue: Tuam Stadium, Tuam

Man of the Match: Shane Walsh

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)

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