Breaks go against Galway in vital five minute periodOctober 4, 2012 - 7:00am
THE blow of a whistle milliseconds too soon; a fraction of an inch of woodwork; a rush of blood to the head.
Tight margins that will forever colour, and probably sour, memories of Galway’s 3-11 to 3-22 defeat at the hands of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland senior hurling final replay on Sunday.
We’ll never know what might have been but for those three incidents back-to-back in a five minutes helter-skelter spell in the second half of a pulsating showdown.
It was eight minutes after the turnaround, Galway were trailing by five points, 2-5 to 1-13, and Cyril Donnellan, linking with Iarla Tannian and Damien Hayes, scored the goal of the game that sent the maroon and white in the crowd of 82,274 into ecstasy. Crushingly for the Tribesmen, referee James McGrath had blown for a free-in before Donnellan’s strike whizzed by goalkeeper David Herity.
Joe Canning landed the free. One point instead of three. The Portumna man followed it up to convert a sweet sideline cut before linking with Niall Burke and rifling a bullet of a shot goal-bound that agonisingly bounced off the butt of the upright. Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley scored a point from the ensuing play. A four point swing to the black and amber.
Had Donnellan’s goal stood; had Canning’s effort been just a touch to the left, Galway would have been just a point adrift, 3-6 to 1-13, and who knows what might have been. Instead they were four points down and the momentum had reverted back to Kilkenny. A minute later, a rush of blood to Donnellan’s head led to the Padraig Pearses man’s dismissal for an off-the-ball strike on JJ Delaney.
Everyone knew, with Galway down to 14 men, the game was up by that stage but just to emphasise that fact, Kilkenny picked off the next four scores in succession, stretching their lead to eight points, 1-18 to 2-7, and the match was effectively over with 14 minutes still remaining.
Those five minutes, between the eighth and 13th minute of the second half will haunt Galway over the Winter months but the reality is, five minutes will never win hurling matches, and the truth, unpalatable as it may seem, is that for the best part of the 70 plus minutes, Kilkenny spectacularly out-hurled Anthony Cunningham’s charges.
When asked about those incidents, the Galway management said they were pivotal turning points. Separately, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody, who’d just led his county to its ninth All-Ireland in 13 seasons at the helm, was having none of it.
“It’s pointless talking about that, you know,” said Cody. “I can’t even remember what the score was at that stage but I don’t think there’s the slightest if, but, or maybe about the game or the result and that’s a fact.” Blunt but probably true.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.