HomeFootballGalway hang tough to dump champions Dublin out in thriller at Croke...

Galway hang tough to dump champions Dublin out in thriller at Croke Park

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Cillian McDaid kicked three second-half points to help inspire the surprise result, and the third was immediately followed by a fine effort by the freshly introduced Cein Darcy, levelling the sides at 0-14 a piece in the 61st minute. Dublin, having led by four points at half time, and twice by five in the first half, were facing a serious test of character.

It became even more testing when Johnny Heaney, another of the subs introduced, kicked Galway in front for the first time since the opening two minutes with 67 minutes showing on the clock. Shane Walsh had to leave the field injured a few minutes earlier but Galway had momentum and a rush of belief.

In the final minute, a stay pass from Tom Lahiff was seized on by Damien Comer and he picked out sub Tomo Culhane who put Galway two ahead with five minutes of injury time announced. O’Callaghan had a free in response but Galway half on. McDaid was later given the man of the match award for his efforts.

Galway looked to have shot themselves in the foot by relinquishing a good lead against Armagh in the final round of the group stages, leaving them down a more circuitous route through the preliminary quarter-finals, where they defeated Monaghan last weekend in Salthill.

It left them in the path of Dublin, who despite their reputation needed a late Cormac Costello point in their final group match in Castlebar to head into the last eight by the direct route. Dessie Farrell had released an unchanged team for the game, with James McCarthy, Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey on the bench. But all three started the match, with McCaffrey making his first championship start of the year.

Lahiff, Paddy Small and Colm Basquel were the players to make way, signalling the serious challenge expected from the Connacht champions, who came into the game, like Dublin, unbeaten in the championship and after conceding just one goal.

Galway have had to manage a punishing catalogue of injuries during the year, at times reaching ridiculous numbers, and this was a first start for Comer since he was taken off in the win over Derry in the opening group match. Shane Walsh limped off against Monaghan a week ago but also started.

When the sides met in the 2018 All-Ireland semi-finals Dublin eased to a nine-point win, the first championship meeting of the two counties since the infamous All-Ireland final in 1983, when Dublin won despite finishing with 12 players. Galway reached the All-Ireland final two years ago where a magnificent display by Walsh wasn’t enough to win their first All-Ireland since 2001, when manager Padraic Joyce was playing.

They haven’t been able to build on that promise, even if injuries can be offered as reasonable mitigation. Dublin last lost a quarter-final when Kerry made short work of them in 2009. But they hadn’t been playing at the top of their game and Galway would have felt they had a chance.

Galway started well. Inside two minutes, with the rain clearing and the evening brightening up, Matthew Tierney kicked Connacht’s only remaining championship contender in front from a mark into the Hill 16 end. The lead was short-lived. Paul Mannion produced a lovely finish, using his less fashionable right foot, and while Walsh levelled the sides after O’Callaghan gave Dublin an early lead from a mark, the half was mostly defined by Dublin holding the lead and the initiative.

Mannion was busy in the right corner and O’Callaghan a constant threat, the team’s chief goalscorer marked by Sean Fitzgerald, with Liam Silke offering added cover. Dublin didn’t create a goalscoring opportunity in the first half but they still looked the more likely to score one. At the other end Comer met with strong resistance whenever he got on the ball from the tight-marking Sean McMahon. He also suffered from a scant supply. At one stage late in the half, Comer came out and fielded Connor Gleeson’s kick-out but then watched his kick pass intercepted by Eoin Murchan and possession surrendered.

The chief scoring option was Walsh, who kicked two glorious points off either foot from play and still wasn’t in the match as much as Galway would have liked. Sean Bugler moved into the Dublin half forward line in a late team reshuffle and kicked two points. Costello and Brian Fenton, in a sweet move involving an O’Callaghan lay-off, also chipped in with scores. They had more scoring variation than Galway.

Twice during the first half Dublin held five-point leads, with a Walsh free reducing that to four just before the interval, Dublin leading 0-11 to 0-7. John Maher got through a lot of useful work for Galway in the first half but they lacked a cutting edge and their injury curse resurfaced when Kelly, their captain, went off after just 21 minutes, replaced by Cein Darcy.

Galway also got the opening score of the second half, a fetch from the throw in byTierney ending in a fine kick between the posts by McDaid. Ciaran Kilkenny and Walsh traded points, Walsh scoring after Comer intercepted a short restart by Cluxton.

Some of their finishing in the period after half time let them down, with Paul Conroy and Comer all missing the target, and they were grateful to Sean Mulkerrin for his block that diverted a goal bound shot by O’Callaghan in the 44th minute. When McDaid pointed again, Galway moved to within two and anther by Conroy left the minimum between them, 0-11, 0-10 with 50 minutes played.

The Dublin crowd urged on their side, sensing the danger, and John Small moved them back two clear from a mark, before O‘Callaghan had his first score from play with 56 minutes played, leaving Dublin 0-14 to0-11 in front. Three points from Walsh, McDaid and Darcy levelled the scores and from there, all in the ground sensed that the shock was on.

Scorers –

Dublin – C Costello 0-4 (2fs, 1 45), C O’Callaghan (2 marks, 1 f) 0-4, S Bugler, C Kilkenny 0-2 each, P Mannion, B Fenton, J Small (M), R McGarry 0-1 each.

Galway – S Walsh 0-7 (4 fs), C McDaid 0-3, M Tierney (mark), J Maher, C Darcy, D McHugh, J Heaney, T Culhane 0-1 each.

Teams:

​Dublin: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, S McMahon, E Murchan; B Howard, J Small, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, J McCarthy; N Scully, S Bugler, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, C O’Callaghan, C Costello. Subs: C Basquel for Mannion (48); R McGarry for Scully (53); T Lahiff for McCaffrey (59); P Small for Costello (66), L O‘Dell for Murchan (72).

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Fitzgerald, J Glynn; D McHugh, L Silke, S Mulkerrin; J Maher, M Tierney; P Conroy, S Kelly, C McDaid; R Finnerty, D Comer, S Walsh. Subs: C Darcy for Kelly (inj 21); L O Conaghaile for Finnerty (47); J Heaney for Tierney (54); C Hernon for Fitzgerald (60), T Culhane for Wash (inj 65).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

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