GALWAY hurlers advanced to the Walsh Cup semi final after this hard earned win over Laois in Rathdowney on Sunday.
Meeting a county side for the first time in the competition, Laois provided a stern test for an experimental Tribesmen, but Galway did well to steer a victory course in the tight confines of the Midlands venue, with Joseph Cooney’s first half goal proving to be the key score.
Galway made life a little more difficult for themselves than was necessary as a number of goal chances were spurned, while the wides tally hit double figures also.
Jason Flynn saw Laois goalkeeper Eoin Fleming deny him on three occasions (the second a penalty) while Fleming was also equal to a late Sean McInerney effort when a goal looked on.
However, Galway were worth their win and eking out this victory against a physically strong Laois side will serve them well. And with the aim of the pre-season competition being to get game time into players, Galway are certainly achieving this.
With a host of regular squad members missing, Micheal Donoghue is having a look at a raft of new (mainly young) and returning players – 29 players have now been used in the three Walsh Cup games to date, with 13 of those being debutants.
Galway, with Clarinbridge’s Cian Salmon starting a senior game for the first time, began well and led by 0-3 to 0-1 after six minutes, with Fleming denying Flynn a goal when deflecting his effort over the bar. Neil Foyle, two frees, and Ben Conroy, who were to prove to be the main marksmen for the Leinster men, shared scores to leave Laois well in touch by the 20th minute at 0-7 to 0-5 in arrears.
Then Galway struck for the games’ only goal. Colm Callinan’s puck-out was broken into Davy Glennon’s path and he set up Cooney who drove on and finished to the net to ease Galway 1-7 to 0-5 ahead. Although buoyed up by the score, Galway saw a few chances go abegging and allowed Laois to outscore them by 0-3 to 0-2 by the interval with Aidan Corby and Joseph Cooney getting the pick of the scores.
Galway led by 1-9 to 0-8 at the interval, but that lead was halved by Laois points from Ross King and Neil Foyle within three minutes of the restart. We then had the unusual situation where referee Sean Cleere had to get medical attention for a bloodied noose after getting too close to a player during a throw in!
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.