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Galway claim Leinster hurling title with win over Wexford

Galway players celebrate their win over Wexford in Croke Park yesterday Picture by Seamus Loughran
Paul Keane in Croke Park

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship final: Galway 0-29 Wexford 1-17

WEXFORD manager Davy Fitzgerald has insisted the All-Ireland title race remains wide open despite his side’s agonising Leinster final defeat at Croke Park.

A 29-point scoring blitz from Galway securing a second Leinster title for the county and appeared to many to underline their status as MacCarthy Cup favourites.

Conor Cooney was terrific for the Tribesmen and reeled off eight points while Joe Canning converted 10 placed balls including a trademark sideline cut.

It was one giant frustration for the Wexford supporters who travelled in huge numbers and ensured a 60,032 attendance, a record for a Leinster final.

They lived with Galway for half-an-hour but were eventually blown away by the greater physical conditioning, aerial ability and scoring prowess of the League champions.

Galway moved from two to nine points clear with a barrage of scoring between the 42nd and 50th minutes which ultimately won them the contest.

But while Fitzgerald admitted they are credible All-Ireland favourites, he said nobody can be written out of the Championship race at this stage.

That includes his own team who will have an opportunity to join Galway in the semi-finals if they can claim a big quarter-final win at the redeveloped Pairc Ui Chaoimh later this month.

“Galway are probably...yeah, they’ll be favourites for the All-Ireland,” said Fitzgerald.

“They are in a semi-final now and they won’t be happy with just winning Leinster, so they won’t. But I still think this race is anybody’s. I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion at all. I mean that for a number of teams.

“Galway have a say in it for sure but I think it’s a bit much to put them out there as big time front runners. I think it is open enough.”

Yet all the evidence at Croke Park, and from the past few months, suggest that this could be Galway’s year.

They haven’t won the All-Ireland since 1988 but turned in a performance full of calm and poise to overcome Wexford and hint at further gains ahead.

Wexford, with Shaun Murphy playing the sweeper role again, threw the kitchen sink at Galway and led 0-11 to 0-10 after 30 minutes.

Everything was going right for them in that spell and Lee Chin’s remarkable industry was matched by several of his colleagues.

But the stats from the 30th minute onwards don’t make for great reading for Fitzgerald and Wexford. The big one that jumps off the page is that they were outscored by 0-19 to 1-6 from there and were wiped out in the aerial stakes as Galway plucked ball after ball out of the sky.

Wexford got the margin down to two early in the second-half but Conor McDonald had a point ruled out by Hawk-Eye and then failed to convert a penalty.

It was a huge turning point as Galway responded with that seven-point blast to set the seal on victory.

Even a 53rd minute Diarmuid O’Keeffe goal for Wexford only halted Galway’s momentum briefly and they responded with five points in a row. The stuff of champions elect?

Boss Michael Donoghue played down that talk and said: “Look, there’s obviously going to be more hope about it but from the outset our mantra was ‘one game at a time’. Our next one is always the most important one. In fairness, they are an experienced bunch and a focused group and when we get back it’s just going to be on to the next game again. They have really bought into that and I have no doubt that for the next five weeks they will buy into it again.”

If there was a down side for Galway, aside from the ankle injury that kept Cathal Mannion out, it was their lack of goals.

They didn’t get a sniff all afternoon due to Murphy’s presence deep in the Wexford defence and had to settle for picking off points from distance.

But they did that pretty easily, particularly in the second-half when Joseph Cooney and Conor Cooney tormented Wexford’s half-back line.

Canning had the crowd gasping when he sliced over a sideline cut too while substitutes Thomas Monaghan and Shane Maloney pointed to show there’s plenty of depth on the bench too.

Galway: C Callanan; A Tuohy, Daithi Burke, A Harte; P Mannion (0-1), G McInerney, J Hanbury; J Coen, David Burke (0-1); J Cooney (0-5), J Canning (0-10, 0-8 frees, 0-1 65, 0-1 sideline), J Flynn; C Whelan, C Cooney (0-8, 0-1 free), N Burke (0-2)

Subs: T Monaghan (0-1) for Flynn (31), S Maloney (0-1) for Canning (67), G Lally for J Cooney (68), S Loftus for P Mannion (72)

Wexford: M Fanning; L Ryan, W Devereux (0-1), J Breen; S Donohoe, M O’Hanlon (0-2), D O’Keeffe (1-1); L Chin (0-4, 0-2 free, 0-1 65), J O’Connor (0-1); P Morris (0-2), A Nolan, C McDonald (0-5, 0-3 free); S Murphy, J Guiney, H Kehoe

Subs: D Redmond for O’Connor (h-t), E Moore for Donohoe (47), C Dunbar (0-1) for Kehoe (53), S Tomkins for Nolan (63)

Referee: C Lyons (Cork)

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