Dubs humbled by Galway U21s
GENERALLY speaking, sporting tragedies can be conveniently filed under three primary categories.
Firstly, there are the days when the gods have conspired and the notion of luck as a beneficiary is a myth.
Conversely, there are instances when under-performance was the most prevailing factor and the blame game begins and ends at home.
Most tragically of all though, are those occasions when the rough reality is that your best wasn't even remotely good enough.
On Saturday night in Thurles, the Dublin U21 hurlers fell victim to a combination of all three scenarios and a pretty devastating Galway side in their Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland final.
For the second time in a week, a Dublin team were outclassed by one from the West in an All-Ireland decider following the minor humbling of the previous Sunday and so the revolution goes unchristened by an All-Ireland title title for another year.
Were Dublin unlucky in Semple Stadium? Certainly.
Galway's first goal -- a Tadhg Haran penalty -- came as a result of a bad refereeing call by the erratic Tony Carroll. The irrepressible Barry Daly had just begun his torturing of Darren Kelly and after turning the Dublin full-back for the second time, was deemed to have been hauled down by 'keeper Ger McManus when it looked like the Tribesman was already going to ground.
Against that, their own goal from Thomas Connolly owed largely to luck after Kevin O'Loughlin's shot rebounded kindly off the crossbar having eventually re-entered the earth's atmosphere.
Did Dublin underperform? Absolutely.
Carroll's fussy prevention of McManus' attempts to take quick puck outs hindered many of the Dublin set-pieces but all over the field, they failed to find any great cohesion.
Liam Rushe battled manfully at centre-back but the problems lay elsewhere. Kelly was the wrong man to pick up Daly who, having ripped Limerick's Pat Begley to shreds in the semi-final, wasn't exactly an unknown entity.
Clearly, the Galway captain had been instructed to turn his man at every opportunity and he gladly adhered to the gameplan. By the time Martin Quilty went in at full-back midway through the half, Daly had already extracted his pound of flesh and left the scene.
Marc Schutte -- so pivotal to Dublin's run to the final this year -- put his hand up for every long puck out but never cleanly won possession and as a result, Daire Plunkett didn't get the sort of ball to cause the sort of panic his electric pace usually does.
In fact, Plunkett played the last portion of the first half as a deep-lying sweeper but the concession of two killer goals within two minutes of each other before the break destroyed Dublin. Both Schutte and Kelly were replaced at half-time but it could, in truth, have been any two from a dozen candidates.
Up front, too, Dublin will have regrets. Until the 40th-minute introduction of Robert Mahon, only Niall McMorrow had scored a point from play in an attack suffering from bad supply and worse luck.
Rushe spent the last 10 minutes at full-forward as Dublin hunted goals but the openings simply didn't exist.
And so were Galway simply better? No doubt about it.
Anthony Cunningham's team were dominant in almost every facet. In the first half, they played the wings, effectively taking Rushe out of the game.
Both Daly and David Burke spent time at full-forward and their movement was so good it left the Dublin defender's heads spinning.
In terms of touch, skill and execution, Dublin were a mile off Galway. All three of the Tribesmen's full-back line displayed fine touch and consequently had more time to clear ball.
Jason Grealish was hugely commanding at wing-back and the Galway forwards' ability to catch ball -- despite not being the biggest combination of men at the grade -- was is stark contrast to Dublin's.
Both of their late first-half goals from James Regan and Davy Glennon were superbly worked and bore testament to their pace and finishing.
Around the breaks, particularly in the first half, Galway destroyed Dublin and so thrived off plenty of possession. They also have a contender for save of the season after Jamie Ryan's brilliantly acrobatic stop on Mahon. Galway's hunger was also palpably obvious and while Dublin didn't lack in any way for heart and fight, hurling-wise, Galway were far superior and their win, richly deserved.