Tuesday 21 November 2017

Galway ignoring tag of favourites

Canning off-day but Tribes triumph

Galway’s Niall Burke scores a point while under pressure from Paddy Murphy of Offaly during the Leinster SHC semifinal at O’Moore Park. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Galway’s Niall Burke scores a point while under pressure from Paddy Murphy of Offaly during the Leinster SHC semifinal at O’Moore Park. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Galway boss Micheál Donoghue is playing down talk of his side being tagged as All-Ireland favourites after an easy 0-33 to 1-11 win over Offaly, which sets up a Leinster final meeting with Wexford on July 2.

With championship losses for Tipperary and Kilkenny, the league champions are now seen as ther prime candidates to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

"From our perspective, all the expectations are from the outside," said Donoghue after the victory at O'Moore Park.

"In terms of ourselves and our preparations, we just take it one game at a time.

"All the talk (of favouritism) that's outside really has no bearing on what we're doing or any consequence on what we're at."

It states a lot about how much Galway have progressed this year that without breaching the Offaly defence for a goal, and having Joe Canning and David Burke delivering quiet performances by their standards, they still steamrolled the Faithful by 19 points yesterday.


Playing against two sweepers in the opening half, Galway's goal threat was effectively neutralised, but when they moved into their stride, another facet of their game was highlighted as they peppered scores at will from distance.

The ease at which they threw around the ball and rifled scores from out the pitch was staggering.

Conor Whelan's star also continues to soar, with the powerful Kinvara attacker finishing with seven points in an attacking tour de force.

With Canning having an off-day - his first possession from play came after 30 minutes, although it did result in a point - others stepped up. Niall Burke and first-half substitute Shane Moloney, who replaced Cathal Mannion - he left O'Moore Park in a protective boot due to an ankle injury - both staked their claim for inclusion.

Much like their 14-point quarter-final defeat of Dublin, they went about their business professionally, while giving the impression that there's much more in the tank if needed.

Donoghue was pleased with their ability to think on their feet.

"We thought that Offaly might set up a sweeper and then they set up with two in the first half. Testament to our boys, they adjusted themselves and often had to go shooting from distance," he said.

"It was a different challenge, but the lads adapted to it very well. You would have liked to tack on a few goals, but for the fact that they had set up that way and our lads had their shooting boots on."

Shane Dooley often ploughed a lone furrow up front for the Faithful, being double marked on occasions as Paddy Murphy and Shane Kinsella filtered back into defence, but Offaly boss Kevin Ryan felt it necessary to preserve their hopes of staying competitive.

Oisín Kelly hit an early goal and had they showed a more clinical edge up front, Ryan believes they could have been much closer than seven points at the break. They trailed 0-16 to 1-7, but when Galway hit 10 of the next 11 scores he knew their goose was cooked.

"Our set-up and our game-plan, as such, was working. Galway got a couple of long-range points, but we were content with that, and keep our goal intact and keep ourselves in the game," Ryan said.

"We could easily have found ourselves level or even a point up at half-time, so there were definitely positives in the first half. I definitely thought five minutes into the second half that it was over and the scoreline reflected that in the end and the body language changed."

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