herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Home rule can defeat Galway

Donnycarney factor will fall in Dublin's favour

AT a certain point last Sunday afternoon, you'd have got long odds on this semi-final coming to pass.

Dublin didn't score for the first 23 minutes of their quarter-final opener against Antrim, who led by three points before David O'Callaghan's levelling goal.

Galway's situation at home to DIT was infinitely more parlous: at one stage in that opening half they trailed by an incredible 14 points to the unheralded student outfit.

Maybe it was the shock of playing a Leinster Council fixture west of the Shannon (Ballinasloe to be precise) but the injury-ravaged Tribesmen were all over the shop during that opening spell of DIT dominance.



Fraught

Still, it's to the credit of Galway -- and to a lesser extent Dublin -- that both sides recovered from those fraught starts to set up tonight's Walsh Cup collision, and what could be a tasty curtain-raiser to the Dublin/Meath football clash that follows.

Dublin eventually eclipsed Antrim by 2-13 to 0-12, providing a morsel of revenge for the calamity that was Croke Park last July.

Even in seven-point victory, Anthony Daly's men betrayed all the signs of a side immersed in heavy-duty stamina training.

They hit with commendable gusto, but the legs were heavy and the touch, at times, heavier still.

Even noted speed merchants looked stuck to the ground.

Conor McCormack was among the notable exceptions, impressing with his early second-half goal and much more besides; the Ballyboden man now gets another chance in an unchanged team to showcase his potential from wing-forward.

Shane Ryan will also have derived plenty of satisfaction from his Antrim efforts, capped by 0-3 from play: the Naomh Mearnóg man endured a difficult comeback campaign in 2010 and this was arguably his best performance since departing the football fold.

Fellow prodigal Conal Keaney was less influential but patience should be the byword, given this was his competitive comeback after a six-year break.

Trying to second-guess tonight's result is an exercise fraught with peril.

Will Dublin be as heavy-legged? Will Galway reprise their Jekyll and Hyde performance of last weekend? Who will even want it more?

Two years ago, at the same venue, Dublin pulverised Galway in a February league outing and the familiar confines of Parnell Park might ultimately swing this contest in favour of the Blues.

ODDS: Dublin 13/10, Draw 9/1, Galway 4/6

VERDICT: Dublin

LAOIS v KILKENNY

(Rathdowney, Tomorrow 11.30)

THE early throw-in is presumably to accommodate Brian Cody & Co, who will keen to keep a beady eye on Leinster club final proceedings later that afternoon in Carlow.

The Cats are liable to field another 'weakened' team but it's all relative and we're not inclined to back against any Black-and-Amber model.

ODDS: Laois 7/5, Draw 9/1, Kilkenny 8/13

VERDICT: Kilkenny

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