Gal­way have some­thing to cheer about

Lynskey’s side cruise past Kilkenny for a third All-Ire­land ti­tle in four years

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Championship 2018 | Gaelic Games - De­clan Rooney

Gal­way 0-21 Kilkenny 0-14

Gal­way cruised to a third mi­nor All-Ire­land ti­tle in four years as Jef­frey Lynskey’s side con­tin­ued to ex­cel at the grade to claim a 12th ti­tle for the county.

Ten points from Donal O’Shea caught the eye for Gal­way, while full-back Shane Jen­nings was rock solid, but with eight dif­fer­ent scores from play, right across the pitch Gal­way showed they have plenty of tal­ent com­ing through to feed the next gen­er­a­tion.

Af­ter a bril­liant start Kilkenny held a 0-4 to 0-0 lead and were 0-10 to 0-9 up at the in­ter­val, but they were out­classed af­ter the break as Diar­muid Kil­com­mins and Dean Reilly pointed the Tribes­men to­wards the ti­tle.

Af­ter­wards Lynskey praised the char­ac­ter and ded­i­ca­tion of his side, and he re­called some tough snow train­ing as key to their un­de­feated 2018.

Astro turf

“We couldn’t get a pitch, I brought my two kids up to my own club and be­lieve it or not I got three shov­els to try to move the snow off the astro turf,” said Lynskey.

“Af­ter about 25 min­utes one of them bolted, he said, ‘Dad, this is lu­nacy’. So what we did was I looked out and the tide was gone out in Bal­ly­loughane beach. We had 54 lads there and we trained for an hour and a half.

“If you’re look­ing for one mo­ment that en­cap­su­lates the whole year, it was that. It was the char­ac­ter they showed. It was mi­nus what­ever, four or five out, and they lads came out, they were fall­ing into pud­dles of salt water, sea weed, you name it, the whole lot and they didn’t shirk it.

“Be­cause at the end of the day they wanted to get to Croke Park, to wear a Gal­way jer­sey. In fair­ness to them in the sec­ond-half to­day they showed that.”

The key pe­riod of the game turned out to be the open­ing ex­changes when Kilkenny were to­tally dom­i­nant, held the up­per­hand on Gal­way’s puck-outs, scored four unan­swered points, but also failed to cash in. Four wides in that time al­lowed Gal­way to get back into the game and when O’Shea pointed a penalty it started Gal­way on a run of six unan­swered scores.

Kilkenny man­ager Richie Mul­rooney con­ceded his side were bet­tered by a stronger out­fit. “It was a great ef­fort. Seven points might have been a small bit harsh on us. We had our very very good goal chances and didn’t man­age to take them,” said Mul­rooney.

“We prob­a­bly needed to score some of those wides, but that’s not to take away from Gal­way’s per­for­mance.

“Most years you can look back to a mo­ment when the All-Ire­land win­ner win a mi­nor ti­tle and say ‘there is a lit­tle bit of luck we got’. That Gal­way team needed no luck this year. They were as good a mi­nor team as I’ve seen be­cause I know our mi­nor team was a re­ally good team.”

Side­line cuts

The free tak­ing of Conor Kelly and a cou­ple of sweet side­line cuts from Ciarán Bren­nan and Jack Buggy were the cor­ner­stones of Kilkenny’s first-half lead, but in O’Shea Gal­way had an in-form scorer.

Af­ter the break, the in­tro­duc­tion of Colm Cun­ning­ham and Seán McDon­agh in par­tic­u­lar gave Gal­way a new lease of life around mid­field and they be­gan to over­power their op­po­nents.

Two won­der points from Kil­com­mins saw Gal­way hit five of six points be­tween the 32nd and 40th min­utes, and de­spite Kelly’s frees and Kilkenny lay­ing siege in search of goals, Gal­way and Jen­nings in par­tic­u­lar stood firm.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRYAN KEANE/IN­PHO

Kilkenny’s Shane Staunton, Dy­lan Cre­han and Padraig Dempsey with Adam Brett of Gal­way in Croke Park.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRYAN KEANE/IN­PHO

Gal­way’s Seán Neary lifts the Tom Markham cup.

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