Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Galway Win First Senior Hurling Title in 10 Years

Wexford 1-10 Galway 1-11

Galway won their first senior hurling championship since 2001 amid scenes of jubilation. Mid-way through the season it appeared as if Galway were dead and buried, but the tribesmen were there for the last game and came out winners in an exciting and controversial finish. Conditions were less than ideal, but excitement was in no short supply. The game went to and fro, with the lead changing hands on several occasions. Wexford looked like they had the job done as they led by a point in injury time, but Galway dug it out in the end with an equalizing point from an Eoin Guinan free, followed by the winner with virtually the last puck of the game from Fintan O’Leary out on the wing.

Galway Captain Killian Murphy raises the cup.
Wexford got off to the better start. Two Tony Murphy frees and a Cathal Kenny point from play put Wexford into an early three points to no score lead. After Galway got themselves on the scoreboard with an Eoin Guinan free, Wexford goaled. Damien Kilmartin pulled off a great save but conceded a 14-yard free. Murphy took it with singular intent and buried the ball in the back of the net. Galway eventually began to play some good hurling and pulled themselves back into contention. With Kilmartin playing solidly in goal and the back line buckling down, the gap between the sides narrowed. Keith Killilea floated a ball into the box and Guinan fetched it cleanly, turned and billowed the net. The sides matched each other on the scoreboard for the remainder of the half. Wexford led by three points, 1-7 to 1-4.

Galway turned the deficit into a lead soon after the restart with points from Brown, Guinan, and Burke. The game settled into a stalemate where neither side could establish a clear advantage over the other, and with the advance rain from hurricane Irene arriving in Canton, the conditions did not lend themselves to good hurling. Galway enjoyed most of the possession and had Brennan, McCree, and Brown playing well, but the scores did not come for the tribesmen. Galway were guilty of failing to take advantage of the chances that came their way. Having played second fiddle, yet still in the game, Wexford saw that the chance to win it was still there and they grasped it.  Wexford soon leveled the scores and it was game on again. Cathal Kenny and Guinan traded points before Wexford went ahead through Tony Murphy after the Galway back line failed to clear their lines adequately. With time ticking away it increasingly looked as if Wexford would be the ones to inch it over the line.

There was a twist in the tail and a little bit of controversy before all was said and done. After missing a couple of chances late in the game, Eoin Guinan pointed a free from 30 yards to level things. With Wexford on the attack and searching for an opening for the winning score, Galway fought hard to clear their lines. The tribesmen eventually won the ball back and Brennan found O’Leary on the wing and the Corkman pointed from out on the wing to put Galway in the lead. Wexford looked like they might have had one last chance to level the scores. It appeared as if the whistle had gone for a free, but the referee signaled for full time, and with that Galway supporters and players burst into cenebration. The last time Galway won the championship the North American Finals were in San Francisco, and the tribesmen brought home the county championship. Ten years later the Brighton side have a chance to repeat the feat and we wish them the best of luck!

Wexford:  M. O’Donnell, G. Dunphy, G. Callnan, B. Dalton, A. Shore, D. Redmond, S. White, M. Molloy, D. Magill, J. Lyng, T. Murphy (1-3), S. Corcoran (0-4), C. Kenny (0-1).  Galway:  D. Kilmartin, K. Murphy, C. Woods, D. McMahon, A. Brennan, S. Linnane (0-1), N. McCree, G. Burke (0-1), K. Killilea, F. O’Leary (0-2), A. Callnan, S. Brown (0-3), E. Guinan (1-4).

By Rory O'Donnell

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