Galway and Wexford advance to Walsh Cup decider
Walsh Cup Semi-Finals
GALWAY 0-19 DUBLIN 0-18
WEXFORD 2-18 KILKENNY 1-9
Kehoe Cup Final
OFFALY 1-16 ANTRIM 1-15
By Paul Keane
No great fireworks at Parnell Park but new Galway manager Shane O'Neill won't complain about that as his inherited Tribesmen edged hosts Dublin to qualify for the Walsh Cup final.
Leading by a point at half-time, tournament holders Galway retained that narrow advantage at full-time to secure a clash with Wexford next weekend.
Back in June, Galway and Dublin played out a dramatic Leinster championship tie which went the way of Dublin and resulted in the westerners' summer coming to a shock end.
There wasn't nearly as much excitement this time with the sides remarkably matching eachother point for point in the second-half to leave Galway just about ahead at the finish.
They'd trailed by four points at the hour hour mark but five points in a row before the interval left them 0-12 to 0-11 ahead and they remained in pole position all the way from there.
It was a useful first outing for O'Neill who retained four players - Gearoid McInerney, Johnny Coen, Aidan Harte and Cathal Mannion - from last June's Championship meeting, handing opportunities to the likes of Declan Cronin, Ronan Burke, TJ Brennan and Diarmuid Kilcommins.
Annaghdown man Kilcommins took off on solo runs twice in the opening quarter and volleyed over points on each occasion though initially it was Dublin that impressed, moving 0-7 to 0-3 clear.
With wins already in the tournament against Westmeath, Carlow and Laois, Dublin looked sharper - despite missing 14 squad members due to the Fitzgibbon Cup - and remained four clear at 0-11 to 0-7 after 30 minutes.
Galways were much improved from there on and O'Neill took advantage of the unlimited substitutions rule in the pre-season competition to make eight full changes over the game.
Brennan opened the second-half scoring for Galway and when Cian Boland responded with a Dublin score, it began a series of tit-for-tat point exchanges that continued until referee Patrick Murphy eventually blew for full-time.
Free-taker Tadhg Haran was a late addition to the Galway team, wearing number 26, and top scored with 0-7 including two important second-half scores while Coen also nailed two beauties including an important point late on.
Next weekend's final will be a repeat of the 2019 decider and Wexford booked their place in it with a 2-18 to 1-9 win over Kilkenny in Callan.
Michael Dwyer's 16th minute goal for Wexford, making it 1-3 to 0-2 at the time, left them sitting pretty and they led 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time, stretching the margin to a dozen points by full-time.I
Established members of the 2019 All-Ireland semi-finalists' panel including Paudie Foley, Jack O'Connor and Harry Kehoe were all on the score-sheet.
Goalkeeper Eoin Murphy netted for Kilkenny in the third quarter from a penalty and the Cats got the margin down to just three points at one stage, 1-10 to 1-7.
Wexford's second major of the day from Aidan Nolan all but sealed the win, a repeat of last year's Leinster final triumph for Davy Fitzgerald's side, with Conor McDonald and Andrew Shore tagging on points late on.
Scorers for Galway: Tadhg Haran 0-8 (7fs), Cathal Mannion 0-3 (1f), Diarmuid Kilcommins 0-2, Sean Bleahane 0-2, J Coen 0-2, C Walsh 0-1, TJ Brennan 0-1.
Scorers for Dublin: Oisin O'Rorke 0-10 (8fs), Eamon Dillon 0-2, John Hetherton 0-2, Chris Crummey 0-1, Cian Boland 0-1, Marc Howard 0-1, Danny Sutcliffe 0-1
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Declan Cronin, Ronan Burke, Jack Grealish; Johnny Coen, Gearoid McInerney, TJ Brennan; Sean Linnane, Aidan Harte; Diarmuid Kilcommins, Cathal Mannion, Thomas Monaghan; David Glennon, Sean Bleahane, Tadhg Haran.
Subs: P Killeen for Cronin (h/t), Conor Walsh for Linnane (45), Jack Coyne for Coen (45-48, blood), Ronan O'Meara for Monaghan (52), Coyne for Bleahane (52), Mark Horan for Brennan (56), Jamie Holland for Burke (56), Brennan for McInerney (65), Bleahane for Haran (65).
DUBLIN: Sean Brennan; James Madden, Cian O'Callaghan, Andrew Dunphy; Chris Crummey, Alex O'Neill, Tom Connolly; Lorcan McMullan, Cian Boland; John Hetherton, Oisin O'Rorke, Mark Schutte; Cian Derwin, Marc Howard, Eamon Dillon.
Subs: Enda O'Donnell for Derwin (49), Sean Moran for Madden (56), Danny Sutcliffe for Schutte (60), Mark Sweeney for Howard (67).
REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).