Burke’s controversial red card leads to a disastrous defeat for Galway

Dublin 2-27

Galway 1-24

THE surprise is, there isn’t one. Unlike Galway’s shock premature exit from the 2019 hurling championship, what happened at Pearse Stadium on Sunday was no bolt out of the blue. We had seen it coming.

All season Galway have been struggling for traction: failing to win any of the games that mattered and struggling to establish momentum. Key players were out of form; others were too old and too slow; and there was a shortage of new blood.

We had still hoped that Galway might click from out of nowhere and with the stakes so high in Salthill on Sunday, this crunch Leinster Championship round-robin clash was the perfect opportunity to do so, but fate was to conspire against them.

Despite amassing six wides – most of them from Conor Cooney – in less than 10 minutes, there was finally a bounce in Galway’s step. The players knew the point of no return had been reached and whatever was in them simply had to come out.

Galway were moving well all over the field and there was a welcome energy to their play. They had established a 0-9 to 1-1 advantage with the wind behind them and the disappointing crowd of just over 8,000 was exercised. Apart from the inaccurate shooting, the local fans were liking what they were seeing.

But in the 16th minute came the incident which proved the game-changer – the controversial dismissal of the long-serving David Burke for a high challenge on Fergal Whitley. Referee Colm Lyons brandished the red card after consulting with a linesman and, suddenly, the dynamics on the battle-field were altered.

Most observers – even those having looked at the incident multiple times on TV – are split over the severe punishment handed out to the 2017 All-Ireland winning captain, but when you see what Tipperary’s Jake Morris got away with in a more dangerous tackle on Clare’s John Conlon later that same afternoon, Galway do have a genuine grievance over being reduced to 14-men.

No matter how you analyse Burke’s challenge, it wasn’t a cut-and-dried sending-off. On another day with another referee, the Galway midfielder would have escaped with a yellow. Unfortunately, ‘thems the breaks’ and this one went badly against the Tribesmen.

It also caused tension between the rival managements, with Galway accusing the Dublin sideline – ironically comprised of the three men who had guided them to that long-awaited All-Ireland title seven years ago – of bending the linesmen’s ear in relation to the colour of the card Burke would receive.

Pictured: Galway’s Cianan Fahy tries to break past the challenge of Dublin’s Conor Burke during Sunday’s Leinster Hurling Championship encounter at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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