5 straight and counting for Offaly
Offaly 3-23 Galway 0-12
In the history of the GAA, you take the hand you are given and you play it. When Kerry won their four in a row they averaged four games a year and no one questioned it.
Offaly have taken the hurling world of New York in the last five years and written themselves into the history books with five titles on the trot. Only one team in hurling had previously achieved this, Tipperary in the fifties, so it is a place reserved for the brilliant.
Offaly swept aside the challenge of Galway in this contest with a tremendous display of outstanding defending and lethal attacking. The half back line of Diarmuid Lyng, Brendan McGourty and Pat Hartley was unbelievable. They are comparable to the majority of lines anywhere in Ireland.
All dominated under the dropping ball while also cleaning up across the ground. Each of the forwards had at least two scores, with Derek Molloy getting a hat-trick of goals while Shane McNaughton was excellent from frees and play.
Galway was quite simply over matched in every position. The weekend players Shane Kavanagh and Aiden Harte never raised their game, with the players around them needing something special.
They are both county players in Ireland, so you expect from those. If Kavanagh had pulled a difficult ball from the sky, burst out through a few tackles and fired a point over, it would have inspired. It never arrived.
Harte had his hands full from the get go with the ability of his markers, but again you expect a difficult score a brilliant pass from an intercounty player to lift you, but it never arrived. His free taking also was off which also hurt, although as the game went on Galway needed far more than points from long range frees.
With the sun trying to break the cloudy sky the game was under way. Galway had a fortunate free to open the game with a Harte score, but it was all Offaly in the next 10 minutes.
They had a brilliant five player move for a Molloy goal on two minutes and followed it with five of the next six points.
While the forward line was moving very efficiently, it was the Offaly halfback line that was completely dominating the proceedings with countless attacks dying weakly on their shoulders. At the offensive end McNaughton was clinical from frees as he punished any indiscretion.
Galway did have back to back points between the 17th and 20th minutes when Robbie Jackson had a point after an interception and Harte drove over a 70, but it still left the scoreline 1-6 to 0-4. Shane Sweeney and Kevin Reilly swapped scores, but immediately following Reilly’s point Offaly had their second goal. Again it was Molloy who rattled the net.
It was all Offaly as the half came to a close. They had five further points with McNaughton scoring the first and Donie Broderick getting three of the next four.
The last point resulted from a low ball into Offaly keeper Brian McNaughton. He found namesake Shane with a long brilliant delivery. The nifty corner forward immediately released the ball to Broderick who fired over the bar. The score of the game.
It left Offaly ahead by 13 at the break, 2-12 to 0-5.
Both sides had two points in the opening six minutes, with Sweeney’s resulting from a perfect pass to the big corner from Hartley. Low, bouncing perfectly into the forward.
After a Galway 25 yard free from Reilly was cleared easily Offaly again went to the scoreboard. They had a point from Shane Kelly, then Molloy completed his hat-trick with a well engineered goal.
Cyril Donnellon soloed in on the right side and flicked at the perfect time to the advancing Molloy. Harte had a free for Galway’s eighth point, but it preceded a five point salvo from the winners.
Again the two headed monster of the Shanes in the full forward line did most of the damage. Galway did have four of the last six points, but at this period Offaly had emptied the bench and were still able to win with 20 points to spare.
It would be a far shorter list to say who played poorly for Offaly, but who would you include? From manager Phil Wickham pulling all the right moves to Donie Broderick starting for the fifth year in a row, the only one who did so, it was truly a day of excellence.
Brian McNaughton made a couple of timely saves to keep a clean sheet and had a quite brilliant overall championship. Sean O’Sullivan is the quite assassin, sits behind the big guns and performs excellently.
Brendan McGourty played a captain’s part and then some, while the Kilkenny (Hartley) and Wexford (Lyng) men on his sides were terrific.
Dan Currams started very brightly while Cyril Donnellon could not be contained. His running pulled Shane Kavanagh all over the field.
Derek Molloy had three goals and wasn’t the best of the forwards, so that’s amazing. The Shane and Shane show again proved to be clinical, 0-12 between them equal to all of Galway’s scores.
For Galway it’s back to the drawing board. Paul Greville battled hard, particularly in the first half. Paul Cahill, John McLoughlin and Reilly tried throughout.
Offaly: 1 Brian McNaughton, 2 Sean O’Sullivan, 4 Diarmuid Hehir, 5 Dermot Lyng (0-1), 6 Brendan McGourty, 7 Pat Hartley (0-1), 8 Shane Kelly (0-3), 9 Danny Currams (0-1), 10 Donie Broderick (0-3), 11 Cyril Donnellon (0-2), 12 Derek Molloy (3-0), 13 Shane Sweeney (0-4), 15 Shane McNaughton (0-8). Subs: Matt Cashman, Ciaran O’Keefe, Enda Condron, Caelim O’Hare, Richie Hartnett.