Wexford 0–15 Galway 0–23
Galway outshone Wexford under the floodlights at Chadwicks Wexford Park as the Westerners ran out to an eight-point victory in the opening round of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1A.
With the Walsh Cup also on the line, Galway settled into a dominant second-half display after the sides entered the break level at 0–10 apiece.
The introduction of Brian Concannon coming out of half-time spurred a run of 10 unanswered points for Galway and the home side offered little response.
Proceedings could have been over before they began as throw-in was delayed by 15 minutes after a small fire broke out in the main stand but was swiftly brought under control.
Wexford’s long-held reputation for hitting too many wides has followed them into the 2023 season — they hit four inside the first three minutes.
After scuppering those easy chances early it was a titanic free off the hurl of Damian Reck from over 100 yards out that opened the scoring.
Donal O’Shea’s response for Galway was equally impressive as he received the handpass from Jason Flynn, used the short grip and tapped over onehanded from close range.
The hosts had jumped out to a three-point lead when Kevin Foley had a golden opportunity at a goal but Galway ‘keeper Éanna Murphy was up to the task.
Normally a certainty from the placed ball, forward Evan Niland fluffed his first two frees. He claimed his first of 0–10 to bring Galway back within two but his shaky start was punctuated by a penalty miss.
It was a questionable decision from referee John Keenan to award the penalty, and Mark Fanning met the Clarinbridge man’s effort low to his right.
Despite Wexford maintaining a lead through the majority of the opening period, it was honours even after 35 minutes. The wides continued apace for the hosts while normal service resumed for Galway’s no.11 — Niland added four frees before the break.
Unafraid to ring the changes, Henry Shefflin introduced Brian Concannon, Ronan Murphy and Oisín Salmon for the second half.
He only managed 0–01 of his own but it was Concannon who inspired Galway’s dominant second-half display. A nuisance in the forward line, he created two goal chances within eight minutes of being introduced, both denied by more impressive ‘keeping from Fanning.
The Model county men nudged ahead through Conor McDonald’s free but saw themselves bullied by Galway for the final 20 minutes.
Niland added three more exemplary frees while Flynn, Murphy, Seán Linnane and Liam Collins all contributed scores to a blitz of 10 unanswered.
Any worries that Galway may be taking the foot off the gas pedal for the National League were quelled by their immense effort. The visitors outstripped Wexford in the tackles, hooks and blocks counts 73 to 47.
Adding to what was an encouraging opening display for Galway, they will soon welcome back Joseph, Kevin and John Cooney. The Sarsfields men missed out following the passing of their grandmother.
Experimentation typical of the League campaign was to Galway’s benefit. Debutant Eoin Lawless was solid in the halfback line and a new-look midfield of Tiernan Killeen and Linnane also worked a treat.
It’s Cork up next at Pearse Stadium for Galway. The Rebels will have their tails up having downed Limerick in their opening fixture.
Galway: Éanna Murphy; Jack Grealish, Gearóid McInerney, Darren Morrissey (0–01); Eoin Lawless, Pádraic Mannion, TJ Brennan; Tiernan Killeen (0–01), Seán Linnane (0–01); Tom Monaghan (0–01), Conor Whelan (0–02), Donal O’Shea (0–01); Evan Niland (0–10, 9F, 1 ‘65), Jarlath Mannion (0–01), Jason Flynn (0–01).
Subs: Ronan Murphy (0–01) for Killeen, Brian Concannon (0–01) for J. Mannion, Oisín Salmon for Brennan, Liam Collins (0–02) for O’Shea, Jack Fitzpatrick for McInerney.
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Shane Reck, Liam Ryan (0–1), Conor Devitt; Conor Foley, Damien Reck (0–2, 1 free), Simon Donohoe (0–1); Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Kevin Foley (0–1); Conor Hearne, Liam Óg McGovern, Charlie McGuckin (0–3); Cathal Dunbar (0–2), Conor McDonald (0–4, 3F), Mikie Dwyer (0–1).
Subs: Corey Byrne-Dunbar for McGovern, Jack Doran for Foley, Rory Higgins for Dwyer, Connal Flood for Hearne, David Clarke for S. Reck.
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).