Waterford 2-23 v 2-13 Galway
Waterford march on to face Kilkenny in the All-Ireland SHC semi finals after a convincing win over Galway in Thurles today. Prior to the match, the Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald expressed an intention to “get stuck in and see what happens” and his team certainly did that today. Despite what looked like anxiety in the warm up period, Waterford took control of this game from early on. Their opening score was a goal from Shane Walsh, which was quickly followed by a point from Kevin Moran and a converted free from Pauric Mahoney. In fact, Galway had to wait until six minutes of the opening half had lapsed before Andy Smith registered his team on the scoreboard. However, for the first half there was not a great deal between the teams and we witnessed trading of points between James Regan and Pauric Mahoney, followed by Ger Farragher and Stephen Molumphy. Galway were awarded a penalty after Iarla Tannian was brought down and Joe Canning made little fuss of securing the goal. John Mullane replied with a point, and with a quarter of the match gone the sides were level. Mullane had a free awarded against him soon afterwards for apparent over carrying although it did appear that he may have been the victim of a foul himself on this occasion. He later received a yellow card for being third man into a challenge but the ensuing free was not converted. The final ten minutes of the first half was certainly not played at Championship level and was even scrappy at times. Possession was wasted across the pitch by both sides and scores were not converted to chances with wides from the likes of Eoin Kelly, Stephen Molumphy, and Seamus Prendergast. As the teams went in at half time, Waterford held just a two-point lead and we discussed the impressive performances of Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh for Waterford and Joe Canning for Galway.
The second half, however, was a different story and those of us neutrals attending the game today could only talk about one team: Waterford. From the restart, it was Galway who appeared jittery, and an almost immediate foul on Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh resulted in a converted free by their sharp shooting free taker Pauric Mahoney. Three points for Waterford and two substitutions for Galway followed before Joe Canning converted a free for his side’s opening score of the second half, some nine minutes in. Kevin Moran replied with a Waterford point and again we saw a trading of wides before John Mullane got his second point. Yellow cards were shown to Liam Lawlor and Pauric Mahoney to follow an earlier yellow to Galway’s Fergal Murray. But it was all Waterford from this juncture, and as Galway emptied their bench Davy Fitzgerald’s men put on the Championship performance we had been deprived off in the first half. Three unanswered Waterford points were followed by a brilliant save from Clinton Hennessey, who was surely out to silence his own critics following the grievous Tipperary assault. Even a goal from substitute Aidan Harte could not awaken the west as it came in the dying minutes of the match. And the Deise were still not finished, substitute Tommy Ryan barely had time to feel the grass under his feet when he scored a great goal at the other end in injury time. When the referee, Cathal McAllister, blew it up it almost seemed merciful. So once again, Galway display why they hate that ‘favourites’ tag so much and it is back to the committee room for them for another year. Today it really is all about Waterford who will receive deserved credit for silencing their critics with this ten-point defeat of the Tribesmen.