BGE Leinster U20: Galway prove too strong for Laois
Bord Gais Energy Leinster Under 20 Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
GALWAY 4-21 LAOIS 0-7
By Kevin Egan at MW Hire O'Moore Park
As 2018 All-Ireland minor champions, there was never a doubt about the talent available to Galway manager Jeffrey Lynskey in advance of their opening game in this year’s Under championship.
With another year of hurling at this grade still to be done for all of that group and relatively few “up to the age” hurlers, the only question was if they would have the maturity and experience to handle some of the tough opponents and winter conditions that lie ahead.
Such was the gulf in class tonight in Portlaoise that it’s still hard to be certain of their ceiling, but the signs are that this group of young Tribesmen is very much in the mix for provincial and possibly All-Ireland honours, as they easily swatted aside Laois to set up a semi-final clash with Kilkenny next weekend.
Laois would have known coming into this that they were taking on heavyweight opposition and they threw themselves into the contest early on, competing well in the middle third and only falling 0-3 to 0-1 behind due to the concession of a series of frees in the left corner of their defence.
Their bright start didn’t last. They were rocked by two first quarter injuries, three early wides were further blows to their confidence, and once Donal O’Shea threaded an inch perfect shot across the goal and about six inches inside the far post, Galway’s path to victory looked clear and free.
With momentum on their side, Galway started to pick off some sublime scores. Diarmuid Kilcommins, Conor Walsh and Ian McGlynn all fired over from distance, while defensively the westerners had all the answers.
Centre back Adam Brett, a wing forward in that minor victory two years ago and centre back tonight, played deep and covered his full back line, crowding out the Laois corner forwards as they tried to attack the low diagonal deliveries that the home side played throughout the half.
Space was at a premium, and in the tight exchanges, Galway usually emerged with the ball up against a Laois forward line where all six starters will be Under 20 again in 2021.
A wonderfully skilful score from Fionn Holland was a rare bright spark for Laois as they dropped 1-11 to 0-4 behind at the interval.
There was to be no respite after half-time either. The trio of Kilcommins, Walsh and McGlynn all picked off points in the opening five minutes of the second half, and by the tenth minute of action Galway had their second goal – a penalty from O’Shea, awarded after McGlynn was dragged down with the goal at his mercy.
McGlynn did raise a green flag off a similar attack, this time getting his shot away while the referee allowed advantage for another rugby-style tackle. O’Shea also got a second penalty chance, awarded when John Fleming tried to attack a lateral pass from Seán MacDonagh and Enda Parlon was red carded.
Cathal Dunne blocked the penalty strike, but in keeping with the type of night it was for both teams, the rebound flew up in the air and fell perfectly for Mark Kennedy to bat in a fourth Galway goal.
With just 14 Laois men on the field for the final quarter, Adrian Prendergast, Caimín Killeen, McDonagh and corner back Jason O’Donoghue were all able to tack on further points in a one-sided conclusion.
Scorers for Galway: Donal O’Shea 2-7 (1-0 pen, 6fs, 165), Ian McGlynn 1-2, Mark Kennedy 1-0, Diarmuid Kilcommins 0-2, Conor Walsh 0-2, Seán MacDonagh 0-2 (1 sideline), Sean Neary 0-1, Alex Connaire 0-1, John Fleming 0-1, Adrian Prendergast 0-1, Jason O’Donoghue 0-1 Caimín Killeen 0-1.
Scorers for Laois: Daniel Delaney 0-4 (4fs) Tomás Keyes 0-1, Fionn Holland 0-1, Joe Phelan 0-1.
GALWAY: Darach Fahy; Oisín Salmon, TJ Brennan, Jason O’Donoghue; Diarmuid Kilcommins, Adam Brett, Dylan Shaughnessy; Alex Connaire, Ian McGlynn; Conor Walsh, Sean Neary, Adrian Prendergast; Donal O’Shea, John Fleming, Oisín Flannery.
Subs: Seán MacDonagh for Flannery (37), Conor Flaherty for Brett (45), Mark Kennedy for Walsh (45), Caimín Killeen for Fleming (50).
LAOIS: Cathal Dunne; Danny Brennnan, Enda Parlon, Aaron Gaughan; Fionán Mahony, Ciarán Burke, Padraic Dunne; John Maher, Joe Phelan; Ciarán Byrne, Daniel Delaney, Thep Fitzpatrick; James Duggan, Mark Hennessy, Tomás Keyes.
Subs: Ian Shanahan for Gaughan (10), Fionn Holland for Keyes (14), Ciarán Conroy for Fitzpatrick (37), Cormac Rigney for Duggan (51), Eoin O’Connor for Holland (52).
REFEREE: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin).