Sunday’s Leinster title victory was oh so sweet for Galway after being the bridesmaids in three of the previous four finals.
Not so this time around, as the Tribesmen made amends at Croke Park to claim just their second provincial crown with a 0-29 to 1-17 victory over Wexford, after their 2012 win over Kilkenny.
Galway led by just three at the break but upped their game in the second half and Wexford just couldn’t stay with them. Galway were just fitter, faster and stronger, not to mention more clinical in the second period.
Conor Cooney led the way for the favourites with eight points, while Joe Canning slotted over ten frees, as the Tribesmen move ominously into the All Ireland semi-finals.
On the back of this showing, and having already wrapped up League Division 1A, they will be strongly fancied to end their long wait to win the Liam MacCarthy Cup. A wait that goes back to 1988.
Tribesmen boss Michael Donoghue, however, was keen to play down talk of Galway’s name being already inscribed on the cup.
He said “Look, there’s obviously going to be more hope about it but from the outset our mantra was ‘one game at a time’. Our next one is always the most important one.
“In fairness, they are an experienced bunch and a focused group and when we get back it’s just going to be on to the next game again. They have really bought into that and I have no doubt that for the next five weeks they will buy into it again.”
Wexford, making their first Leinster final appearance since 2008, did well to stick with Galway in the first half, but Davy Fitzgerald’s men were simply no match in the second and now go into the All Ireland quarter-finals.
It looked promising for the Model County when they led 0-11 to 0-10 after 30 minutes with captain Lee Chin leading from the front. Jack O’Connor wasn’t too far behind his skipper, and his courageous block on Padraic Mannion illustrated Wexford’s togetherness and commitment to the cause.
They were brave, both in attack and defence, while Galway talisman Canning was getting no joy out of Matthew O’Hanlon. Conor McDonald and Diarmuid O’Keeffe slotted over some fine scores, but Cooney was having greater success and he helped Galway move 0-14 to 0-11 clear at half-time.
And within 15 minutes of the restart it was all over. A McDonald point that was initially awarded by the umpire was ruled out by Hawk-Eye, with the same player then seeing his 40th minute penalty saved by Galway goalkeeper Colm Callanan. McDonald, though, will wish he could have a second try, as his attempt was tame.
With that went Wexford’s chance, as Galway made them pay for missed opportunities – the Tribesmen racking up seven unanswered points to take the game away from their opponents.
Niall Burke and Conor and Joseph Cooney all fired over and suddenly Galway led 0-21 to 0-12.
Wexford did respond, blasting a quick-fire 1-1, but it did little to halt the Galway momentum and they just continued to rack up the points, and another five Galway scores without reply put to bed any thoughts of a Wexford comeback.
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald, said: “Galway are probably… yeah, they’ll be favourites for the All-Ireland. They are in a semi-final now and they won’t be happy with just winning Leinster, so they won’t
“But I still think this race is anybody’s. I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion at all. I mean that for a number of teams. Galway have a say in it for sure but I think it’s a bit much to put them out there as big time front runners. I think it is open enough.”
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 65, 0-1 s/l), Conor Cooney 0-8 (0-01f), Joseph Cooney 0-5, Niall Burke 0-2, Padraic Mannion 0-1, David Burke 0-1, Shane Maloney 0-1, Thomas Monaghan 0-1.
Scorers for Wexford: Conor McDonald 0-5 (0-3f), Diarmuid O’Keeffe 1-1, Lee Chin 0-4 (0-2f, 1 65), Paul Morris 0-2, Matthew O’Hanlon 0-2, Jack O’Connor 0-1, Willie Devereux 0-1, Cathal Dunbar 0-1.
GALWAY: Colm Callanan; Adrian Tuohy, Daithi Burke, Aidan Harte; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, John Hanbury; Johnny Coen, David Burke; Joseph Cooney, Joe Canning, Jason Flynn; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Niall Burke
Subs: Thomas Monaghan for Flynn (31), Shane Maloney for Canning 67, Greg Lally for J Cooney 68, Sean Loftus for P Mannion (72).
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Liam Ryan, Willie Devereux, James Breen; Simon Donohoe, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Lee Chin, Jack O’Connor; Paul Morris, Aidan Nolan, Conor McDonald; Shaun Murphy, Jack Guiney, Harry Kehoe.
Subs: David Redmond for O’Connor (h/t), Eoin Moore for Donohoe (47), Cathal Dunbar for Kehoe (53), Shane Tomkins for Nolan (63).