Dublin and Galway to meet again on the McMorrow
12:15, 16 Apr 2012
Like the Grand National on Sunday, two fell but the rest pushed on until the finishing line. The difference being that the two men sent off for Dublin against Galway in Tullamore will live to fight another day, unlike Synchronised and According To Pete. Then the stakes were never quite as high in the relegation play-off as they were at Aintree, but this league clash did touch summer levels.
In the overall context of the league, this was typical Dublin in a couple of ways. Firstly, it was a tight, pulsating game; secondly, they couldn’t close it out. Losses to Cork by a point and Kilkenny the same came to mind; as when they could have beaten Tipperary but were lucky to draw it with the final aggressive puck of the game. Which is what again happened in Tullamore, though the script was somewhat different.
Niall McMorrow, as he did throughout last year for the Under-21s, put the placed ball where the sun don’t shine in Galway to tie the sides. After losing the Under-21 title to so many of those who now comprise this Galway panel, perhaps it was a soupcon of revenge.
Dublin were the better team in the first half on Sunday but should have conceded two goals as Cyril Donnellan and Damien Hayes both found Gary Maguire’s hurley when the net was bigger. Early in the second half, it felt as if Galway would struggle to stay on but they grew and grew - the only surprise being that it took them until injury time to level.
Dublin’s goals making the hard miles back to parity that bit longer, and the Joe Canning-inspired recovery all the more dramatic. With two minutes of normal time to go, Johnny McCaffrey had pushed Dublin three points clear but once one Canning score became two, there was an inevitability about his. And extra time.
The prevailing feeling is that the two teams will have benefitted both from this game, and the prospect of another tough match this Saturday in Portlaoise before the championship commences. For Galway, it will put the distance of two games between the summer sun and the wet-dog stench from the Cats mauling. One defeat had seemingly undone what seemed decent progress until that point; two battles against a physically-imposing Dublin side can help repair the damage.
Canning is back too, and how. The Portumna man scored 0-12 (0-6f) and there was always the sense that Dublin would take the hit of one point rather than risking three with him; if, he’s good enough to put it over from there let him, but do not get too tight and let him run for goal. Invariably, he was good enough and only once did we see him make a burst for the 14 as Peter Kelly and Joey Boland usually shadowed Canning.
Hayes’ goal chance early in the first half came when Canning turned and spotted his club- and county-mate in behind the cover. The inference being that Canning, as he has been since making his debut in 2008, is the most likely conduit for goals.
Anthony Cunningham can also be pleased that all bar one of his starting forwards scored and tallied 0-12 from play between them. While Iarla Tannion, who so often frustrates in the forwards, hinted that he has a future out at midfield. Dublin’s starters from nine to 15 amassed just five scores, albeit in the form of 2-3. While that equate to nine points, there is a question over how continual their threat up front was - Danny Sutcliffe (0-3) was the sole Dubliner used to score more than once from play.
Perhaps that had something to do with an extra man sometimes being dropped into the backline and the sometimes careless distribution of the ball upfield. What it means on the till is that Dublin have now played six league games in 2012 and are yet to win one. Perversely, the mood continues to be more positive as Anthony Daly has a run of strong performances to subsist on.
On a much smaller scale than Galway, Dublin have been introducing players and they have responded: Sutcliffe is the obvious name but Martin Quilty was excellent at midfield once introduced, while Ross O’Carroll notably grew as the game wore on and others wore out.
As extra time played out, just three of Dublin’s 14 starting outfield players remained in their original positions - a combination of tactical and enforced switches. But as the final score proved, it wasn’t deckchairs being rearranged. Both sides are still afloat in Division 1A.
Whether either team would like to see Barry Kelly officiating the replay is questionable. There was certainly a sense of injustice among the Dub contingent. Most people missed the incident which saw Ryan O’Dwyer sent off (his third red in just over a year) and there were conflicting opinions by those who did see it. Alan McCrabbe’s dismissal was a yellow but red was excessive.
The Dublin crowd were baying when David Collins’ judo flip on O’Carroll (pictured) was ignored, and when Kelly was upended as he attempted to hurdle a prone Galwayman. In the latter case, the Tribesmen ended up with a free in.
There seemed to be less objections from the Galway end but then they seemed to be well outnumbered. A factor that should be less in the capital men’s favour this Saturday. Because Joe is back and confidence is being replenished.
No fallers to 1B just yet - so on we go to the second lap.
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