No shame for GalwayOctober 2, 2012 - 7:00am
GALWAY’S hopes of claiming a first All-Ireland senior hurling title in 24 years were crushed by Kilkenny in Sunday’s replayed final as the Cats claimed the Liam McCarthy Cup for the ninth time in 13 championship seasons.
There was no shame for the Tribesmen in the 3-11 to 3-22 defeat: This is the greatest Kilkenny team ever to emerge from Ireland’s greatest hurling county. And boy did they prove that greatness once again with an awesome intensity and insatiable hunger – how, after so much success and so many seasons on the road, do they still have a hunger as if they’ve never won anything? – that just blew the Galway challenge asunder.
“I suppose it’s some consolation to be the second best team in Ireland and to be the second best to this super team. We’ll stay knocking at the door. We beat them in the Leinster final this year but we want to beat them in the All-Ireland next year and that will be our aim,” said Galway manager, Anthony Cunningham afterwards, as he vowed: ‘We’ll be back’.
The maroon and white contingent in the crowd of 82,274 at Croke Park can lament a five minutes period in the second-half when the Galway challenge went pear-shaped: Cyril Donnellan’s goal being disallowed after referee James McGrath had blown too soon for a free-in; Joe Canning’s goal-bound shot rebounding off the woodwork; and Donnellan, Galway’s best player up to that point, receiving his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident with JJ Delaney in the 13th minute of the second half.
It’s a fair amount of misfortune to take and really, when they were reduced to 14-men, there was no way back; four points down and over 20 minutes still to play, Galway’s dream was effectively over.
Despite that bizarre regret-filled five minutes, the harsh reality was that Galway were second best over the 70 minutes – they were out-hurled, outworked and couldn’t match the fierce intensity of Kilkenny. Not one of the Galway players could honestly say that they came out on top in their individual duals.
And the statistics don’t lie either. Galway’s first point from play, from midfielder Andy Smith, came three minutes after the restart; Canning was the only forward to score a point from play and that white flag came in injury-time when the contest was over. Only two of Galway’s starting forwards scored.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.