Waterford 1-18 Galway 2-13
Shane Bennett’s 74th minute winning goal pipped Galway at the final hurdle, in a game that could be described as a game of two halves.
The conditions dictated the terms of the game, at some stages there was sun, hale, and rain, but there was one constant element, the gale force wind. The wind went straight from one goal to the other, and it made it very difficult for Waterford to play against. It was typified on the 29th minute when Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe was not able to get his puck past his own ’45.
Galway led 2-11 to 0-07 at half-time, with goals through forwards Jason Flynn and Brian Concannon, the latter’s was particularly brilliant effort, as he buried it into the roof of the net.
In the second-half, the momentum completely switched. The Déise utilised the wind, and really turned the screw on Galway. There was a period in the half where Waterford scored eight points without a reply, and Galway only scored two points in the whole half. Stephen Bennett, and Jamie Barron, who finished with three points from play, were the two main driving forces for the Munster side.
In the closing minutes of normal time, Waterford managed to get to within a point of the Tribesmen, who were well and truly on the ropes. In injury time, corner forward Peter Hogan made a searing run through the centre and popped it over to Shane Bennett, who finished amazingly at a tight angle while he was falling. It proved to be the deciding moment of the match.
It has been a League campaign to forget for Galway manager Micheál Donoghue and his team. Their performances have not been up to their usual standards, partly due to the absence of key players like David Burke, Johnny Coen, Daithí Burke and more. They incorporated this same strategy last season, try not to expend as much energy in the National Hurling League and be ready for the Leinster League. The added fall-back of having no relegation from Division 1B, may have set a malaise in the squad. One would fear that the 2017 All-Ireland champions could enter the championship stale. One thing is for sure, their second half performance on Sunday was particularly worrying.
Waterford’s performance in the second half reminded the hurling world just how much of a threat they are. Under new manager, Páraic Fanning, they look to have set their stall out for the year.
Referee: David Hughes
Waterford: 1. Stephen O’Keeffe; 2. Darragh Lyons, 3. Shane McNulty, 4. Noel Connors (Captain); 5. Callum Lyons, 6. Philip Mahony, 24. Michael Walsh; 8. Jamie Barron, 9. Kevin Moran; 10. Colin Dunford, 11. Michael Kearney, 12. Pauric Mahony; 13. Peter Hogan, 14. Stephen Bennett, 15. Shane Bennett.
Subs: 17. Jordan Henley for Darragh Lyons (46’) 7. Austin Gleeson for Walsh (51’) 19. Stephen Roche for Dunford (52’) 20. Colm Roche for Connors (65’) 25. Jack Prendergast for Callum Lyons (66’).
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-10 (8fs), Shane Bennett 1-1, Jamie Barron 0-3, Michael Kearney, Pauric Mahony 0-2 each.
Galway: 1. Fergal Flannery; 2. Jack Grealish, 3. Ronan Burke, 4. Aidan Harte; 5. Kevin Hussey, 6. Padraig Mannion (Captain), 7. Georóid McInerney; 8. Cathal Mannion, 9. Sean Loftus; 10. Niall Burke, 11. Joe Canning, 12. Brian Concannon; 13. Conor Whelan, 14. Jason Flynn, 15. Davy Glennon.
Sean Bleahene for Flynn (53’), 17. Sean Linnane for Cathal Mannion (55’),
19. Paul Killeen for Grealish (62’), 21. Sean Kilduff (Clarinbridge) for Linnane (69’) 18. John Hanbury for Ronan Burke (74’).
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-7 (6fs), Jason Flynn 1-1 (1f), Brian Concannon 1-0, Niall Burke 0-3, Conor Whelan 0-2.