Dublin surged into another final as Galway bowed out last evening.
1. Second-half storm from Dublin
It would be a stretch to suggest Dublin’s position looked shaky at the interval yesterday, they were in front on the scoreboard and had operated smoothly in the first half. But Galway had stuck with them and were undeterred by the concession of a goal to Con O’Callaghan as they moved to within two at the break.
It looked potentially interesting for the second half but Dublin were in no mood to let this develop into a contest. They gained a grip on the action in the third quarter to go five points clear and then held a 12-point advantage until Shane Walsh stuck in that late goal.
Before the Walsh strike, Dublin had outscored Galway by 0-15 to 0-5 after the interval. It was another masterclass by Jim Gavin’s side as they unleashed a second-half storm that opponents could not handle.
2. Early regrets for Galway
Galway could have no complaint with the end result given how the second half had unfolded but the opening period generated some regrets. It’s true that 1-7 was a decent score to post against the might of Dublin, they did get the boost of a thumping fisted finish to the net by Damien Comer while Ian Burke’s trickery caused grave problems for the All-Ireland champions.
However Galway were left to rue some ambitious shots they took on for points and their errant kicking from placed balls. And the chief regret was that missed penalty from Eamonn Brannigan in the 12th minute. It was a fine save by Stephen Cluxton yet a second goal so soon after Comer netted, would have given Galway real momentum.
3. Subs power Dublin on once more
The strength of Dublin’s squad is often referred to but it is games like this that illustrates it vividly. Cian O’Sullivan went off injured after a phase where Dublin had looked uncomfortable in trying to get handle on Comer and Burke, but the impact made by replacement Michael Fitzsimons was seen in how they quelled those Galway threats thereafter.
Up front there was a scoring spree off the bench as evidenced by the startling fact that Dublin’s subs were outscoring Galway’s team by 0-6 to 0-5 in the second half, until Shane Walsh managed to bag that goal in injury-time. Cormac Costello advanced his claims, Kevin McManamon offered a reminder of his talents and Paul Flynn raced into the action during his brief cameo. Their reserves provide a powerful weapon.
4. Dublin’s four-in-a-row bid looks stronger than ever
Wicklow by 23, Longford by 19, Laois by 18, Donegal by five, Tyrone by three, Roscommon by 14 and Galway by nine. Sevens wins achieved by Dublin in the 2018 championship as they have driven on relentlessly to final day. Five victories were claimed in a comfortable fashion and while both Donegal and Tyrone posed questions, Dublin always looked capable of upping the ante if required.
Considering the vigorous examinations that Mayo provided of Dublin’s credentials across the course of the 2016 and 2017 deciders, time is running out for them to receive a comparable test this season. The strength of their form means it is looking ominous for whichever Ulster challenger they face on 2 September as Dublin chase four-in-a-row.
5. A week to give Galway cause to reflect
It’s been a week to halt the undeniable progress Galway have made in 2018. Last Saturday was an awkward one to prepare for as they welcome Monaghan to Salthill, last evening was a severe challenge that they had not been accustomed to. Facing Dublin in April is different to the beast the Tribesmen had to try to tame in August.
Still while their 2018 adventure ended, they can reflect on a season that yielded a highly credible league showing, a third successive provincial win over Mayo, a Connacht title and a landmark win against Kerry in Croke Park. They’re on the right track but reach the summit is a stark challenge that they are not alone in facing.
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