Dublin just can’t stop winning matches as Galway joined Kilkenny on the growing list of big name teams to fall to the Dubs in the championship this summer.
Just over a week after their sensational win over All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, Anthony Daly’s team saw the job through in the Leinster final against title holders Galway.
Ranked at 11/5 outsiders on the morning of the game, Daly’s team controlled the game from start to finish as they won by a handsome 2-25 to 2-13 after leading by 1-12 to 0-7 at the break.
Not alone did Dublin win their fifth championship game in 29 days, they also ended a Leinster title drought stretching all the way back to 1961 as two second-half goals from Paul Ryan proved so influential in the face of a Galway revival.
Manager Daly, an All-Ireland winner with Clare, said afterwards, “I’m very satisfied. I knew coming up the road in 2008 it wasn’t all going to be good and we got beaten by 18 points in the Walsh Cup by Kilkenny in our first game.
“But I knew coming in that I wasn’t coming to a place that had no chance. I’d seen the Dublin Colleges team beating St. Flannan’s, I remember being upstairs when the Dublin minors were beaten in the All Ireland semifinal, we’d been beaten by Cork in 2005 and it was a painful day.
“They (the Dubs) were all over getting autographs from the Clare boys, the Lohans and the Lynchs. We knew there was great work going on, so we tried to work on that.
“But we had dark days all right, there’s no doubt about it, like driving around after the Antrim defeat of 2010. We were in it for the days like today.”
Dublin’s Conal Keaney was the man of the match, a year after a serious motorbike accident left him on crutches.
Daly was happy to lead the praise for the Ballyboden man. “In fairness to Conal he was really immense when we needed him to be. You talk about game plans and that, it’s down to raw courage, stick up your hand, to have the courage and belief to stick up your hand at a time like that,” Daly said.
Youngster Danny Sutcliffe also praised Keaney’s role in a famous Dublin win. “Everyone knows the work he has done to get back and everyone has the height of respect for him,” Sutcliffe said.
“For him to come back like he has and carry us through that second half it is an amazing thing.”
Galway were always second best on the day and their manager Anthony Cunningham had no excuses to offer.
“Our congratulations to Dublin. The better team won on the day. It took us a good while to get going. We were a bit late to the breaking ball there in the middle third. We were a bit off it,” he said.
“We came back well and would be happy with a lot of aspects there in the second-half but we still have a lot to work on. We have a bit of catching up to do on Dublin but we’re not out of the championship yet.
“Of course it was our hope we’d be fresher but they showed fantastic skill, fitness levels and strength and they were the clear winners. We made some battle there for quite a while in the second half and we would be happy enough with that aspect of it but not happy early on when we were sluggish and not getting to the breaking ball.
“The team in this position last year went on to win the All-Ireland. They did that by learning. We have a lot to learn from this and it is how we use it now.”
Kerry Edge Lethargic Cork
Cork finally woke from their slumbers in the second half of Sunday’s Munster SFC final against Kerry, but even that wasn’t enough to save them from a 1-16 to 0-17 defeat in Killarney.
Kerry dominated the first half and were well worth their
1-10 to 0-6 half-time lead, but manager Eamon Fitzmaurice was at pains to explain their second half collapse.
“We felt we should have pushed on but for some reason we didn’t. We knew there would be a rally in Cork. We felt if we kept the scoreboard ticking over, we’d get over the line. But it was too close for comfort at the end,” he said.
“Cork just got momentum. They definitely got on top in the middle of the field and they overran us. When Ciaran Sheehan came in, he caused us problems. There was a lot of different factors in it. I felt it was important any time we got a break away to kill the momentum and get a score but we didn’t.
“We missed a few chances early in the second half. Even towards the end of the game though we were getting in here and there at midfield, we weren’t getting enough.
“We were getting turned over and Cork were breaking down field. There’s plenty to work on but we’re delighted to get it over the line in the end. We played a lot of good football in the first-half. But playing well for one half against the top teams isn’t going to do.
“The lads have put a lot into this Munster Championship. They’ve worked very hard since I came on board. We were looking at this date all along. We’re happy to have got over the line but there’s plenty to work on and it’s a good situation for management.”
Fitzmaurice also denied any claims that the victory vindicated his decision to drop Kieran Donaghy for the Munster decider.
“Don’t think it was about feeling justified. We won the game, I’m happy. It was a hard decision and a big decision, we put a lot of thought into it,” he said.
“Kieran himself reacted very well, he barely missed out on starting and will be back in the mix for the next day. The lads have a week of county Championship now and it’ll be the players who are going well in training that we pick.”
Cork lost by just two points in the end – Daniel Goulding opted to point a late 45 when he might have been better trying to set up a goal chance – and that first half really hurt them.
Manager Conor Counihan admitted, “We just underperformed, didn’t get off the blocks quick enough. When you do that against Kerry or any team you’re going to be punished.
“I thought to be fair, in the first half, I thought they had most of the initiative. Then they kicked on and got the goal. You just can’t do that.
“We seemed to have difficulty holding on to the ball in middle of the field in the first half. Then we got on top there a little bit in the second-half and maybe the flow of the game started to come with us.
“We were a bit unlucky at the end with the few chances that might have ended up with a goal. But at the outset, when you give that kind of initiative to a team, you pay the price.”
Galway Hangs On Against Waterford
THE Waterford footballers came within a whisker of the summer’s latest big shock before eventually going down by just a point, 1-12 to 0-14, in their All-Ireland qualifier against Galway in Salthill on Saturday.
Only a late Michael Meehan goal saved the Tribesmen as he broke the hearts of Waterford fans and their manager Niall Carew.
He told reporters, “We had so many fellas playing well and then the goal leaked in. It came from second phase possession and that stopped us in our tracks and we are just gutted we are not in the next round.
“We are devastated. We worked so hard since the Kerry game. I supposed people forgot we were right in the Kerry game for 40 minutes.
“We knew there were positives from that game and we worked hard since the Munster semifinal and I suppose while we got a performance against Galway it wasn’t enough and I’m gutted for the lads.”
Galway boss Alan Mulholland admitted, “It was great to see Michael Meehan get the goal in the end. We had one or two chances in the first half but we didn’t convert them and they might have put a different slant on the game but we were just delighted and relieved to see Michael hit the back of the net with a couple of minutes to go.
“We are relieved, no doubt about it. We got the result we wanted, we definitely didn’t get the performance we had hoped. We managed to get out by a point, we are happy with that, we are in the pot for the next day.”