Allianz HL D1B: Galway too strong for Offaly
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
GALWAY 2-20 OFFALY 0-14
By Kevin Egan at Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park
An immaculate display of dead ball striking from Galway full forward Jason Flynn was the main highlight of an otherwise predictable encounter at Tullamore this afternoon, where both defences got the better of their attacking counterparts, Offaly marginally so and Galway definitively.
Galway’s supremacy at half back was particularly significant in the opening exchanges, when they won the first four Offaly puckouts and put the home side on the back foot. The fired over the first six points of the game, five of them from dead balls, as Offaly struggled to get their tackling technique correct against powerful Galway runners from the middle third of the field.
Niall Houlihan and Ben Conneely made a couple of key interventions close to goal to prevent Galway getting a clean look at goal while Damien Egan smothered a Conor Whelan shot that might have tested Conor Clancy, but at the other end of the field Offaly were starved of chances until the 14th minute, when Joe Bergin and Paul Killeen contested a high delivery and the breaking ball for Kevin Connolly, whose first-time shot was well-saved by James Skehill.
Bergin pointed the resultant ’65 and Colin Egan added another for the home side four minutes later, but they were to be Offaly’s only scores in the opening 34 minutes, until Colin Egan added another couple in the closing minutes of the half. Galway themselves struggled to make meaningful inroads up front, with the majority of their scores coming through Flynn, but they found an extra gear in first half injury time and a superb point from Conor Whelan on the stand-side touchline was followed up with a close-range goal from the same player, kicked to the net after Conor Clancy failed to hold onto a dropping ball from the right wing.
1-12 to 0-4 adrift at the break, Offaly produced their best spell of hurling in this league campaign so far after half time, picking off six of the next eight points. Joe Bergin was on target with two frees, Kevin Connolly fired over one from play and worked hard to earn a turnover that resulted in a Kevin Dunne point, while Colm Gath added a score from a sideline cut that was hotly disputed by the Galway side.
When Bergin fired over a free in the 45th minute the gap was down to six points, but Offaly never looked like getting the goal they badly needed and once Galway manager Micheál Donoghue sent for Padraic and Cathal Mannion to shore up the middle third of the field, they held the midlanders at bay easily, without ever looking like cutting loose up front.
Galway did show their attacking class in the closing minutes when they smothered David Nally in possession and quickly broke up the field, Conor Whelan drawing a defender before laying off to Brian Concannon, and the NUIG student placed an inch perfect shot inside Conor Clancy’s near post from 15 metres out – a rare moment of attacking class on a day when defensive competence was the standout feature.
Scorers for Galway: Jason Flynn 0-13 (8fs, 4 65s), Conor Whelan 1-2 (1f), Brian Concannon 1-1, Sean Loftus, Sean Kilduff, Niall Burke, and Davy Glennon 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: Joe Bergin 0-6 (5fs, 1 65), Colin Egan 0-3, Kevin Dunne, Sean Dolan, Kevin Connolly, Paddy Murphy, and Colm Gath (sideline) 0-1 each.
GALWAY: James Skehill; Sean Linnane, Paul Killeen, Darren Morrissey; Jack Fitzpatrick, Gearóid McInerney, John Hanbury; Seán Loftus, Seán Kilduff; Niall Burke, Conor Whelan, Jason Flynn; Ronan O’Meara, Brian Concannon, Kevin Cooney.
Subs: Davy Glennon for Burke (32), Padraic Mannion for Hanbury (51), Cathal Mannion for O’Meara (57), Ronan Burke for Fitzpatrick (59).
OFFALY: Conor Clancy; Paddy Rigney, Niall Houlihan, Ben Conneely; Damien Egan, Pat Camon, Andy Flynn; Aidan Treacy, Mark Egan; Kevin Dunne, Colin Egan, Sean Dolan; Kevin Connolly, Joe Bergin, Colm Gath.
Subs: Shane Kinsella for Flynn (10), Paddy Murphy for Colin Egan (46), Shane Dooley for Gath (52), Eoghan Parlon for Mark Egan (62), David Nally for Dunne (70).
REFEREE: Sean Stack (Dublin).