Henry Shefflin got off to a winning start as Galway hurling manager in Ballinasloe, but it was no plain sailing in this opening Walsh Cup battle against Offaly.
ith his old Ballyhale and Kilkenny colleague, Michael Fennelly, in the opposition dug-out, Shefflin’s experimental line-up struggled to break clear of dogged midland resistance before eventually getting over the line before in excess of 3,000 spectators in Duggan Park.
Queues began to form at the Duggan Park turnstiles a full 90 minutes before throw-in, locals palpably impatient for the Shefflin era to begin.
But this was resolutely unglamorous business against opponents whose summer ambitions will be limited to contesting the Joe McDonagh Cup.
And if the new Galway manager was hoping for someone to catch the eye on the heavy field, he wouldn’t have wanted it to be an Offaly man.
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But that proved the case with Birr’s Eoghan Cahill the stand-out performer, nailing five points from play against an assortment of different markers in a first-half that closed with Galway narrowly ahead, 1-12 to 0-13.
If anything, the visitors hurling was the sharper. Cahill especially and others like Conor Molloy, Killian Sampson and Ross Ravenhill excelling for the midlanders.
Galway had lost Jason Flynn to a hamstring pull inside ten minutes and were struggling to get any purchase from their inside attacking line until the 35th minute when Brian Concannon whipped first-time to the Offaly net after a Conor Walsh free dropped towards the ‘square’.
Gearoid McInerney was having a torrid time at centre-back, Molloy’s first three points from play all coming while in the Oranmore man’s company.
Cahill remained the stand-out player of the second-half but a mistake by Offaly goalkeeper, Stephen Corcoran, gifted Donal O’Shea a 55th minute Galway goal that seemed to knock the stuffing out of the visitors.
O’Shea then had a penalty brilliantly deflected out for a ‘65’, Galway finishing with a late flourish, the award given for a foul on Concannon.
Scorers: Galway – D O’Shea 1-9 (0-7 frees, 0-1 65), R Glennon 0-3, B Concannon 1-0, J Flynn 0-2 (0-1 free), S Bleahene, C Walsh, R Murphy, G Thomas 0-1 each. Offaly – E Cahill 0-12 ( 0-5 frees), A Treacy 0-2 (0-1 frees), C Molloy, R Ravenhill, L Fox, J Sampson, J Murphy, B Duignan 0-1 each.
Galway: D Fahy, S Barrett, J Fitzpatrick, D Cronin, S Bleahene, G McInerney, C Walsh, R Glennon, R Murphy, J Fleming, J Flynn, C Fahy, G Thomas, B Concannon, D O’Shea. Subs: A Clarke for Flynn (10 mins), G Lee for Fleming (51 mins), D Kilcommins for Murphy (57 mins), S Neary for Glennon (65 mins), T Killeen for Bleahene (65 mins), C Killeen for Barrett (66 mins).
Offaly: S Corcoran, J Keenaghan, C Burke, D King, C Molloy, B Conneely, K Sampson, R Ravenhill, L Fox, E Cahill, J Sampson, A Cleary, J Murphy, B Duignan, D Nally. Subs: P Guinan for Conneely (half-time), A Treacy for Fox (half-time), L Nolan for Cleary (51 mins), E Parlon for Duignan (51 mins), S Ryan for K Sampson (53 mins), C Hardiman for J Sampson (53 mins), C Kiely for Nally (53 mins), A Maher for Cahill (61 mins), P Delaney for King (62 mins), C O’Meara for Hardiman (70 mins),
Referee: C Moone.