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Conor Cooney masterclass leads Galway past Wexford to their first Leinster title since 2012

The Tribesmen had nine points to spare over Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford in Croke Park.

Galway 0-29

Wexford 1-17

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

GALWAY WERE IN irresistible form as they powered past Wexford to pick up their second ever Leinster title in Croke Park.

Joe Canning with Liam Ryan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Micheal Donoghue’s men confirmed their status as the frontrunners for the All-Ireland with a confident nine-point win over a valiant Wexford side.

Galway ended their run of successive Leinster final defeats in stunning fashion in front of a record Leinster SHC final attendance of 60,032.

The Tribesmen put the height and strength advantage they enjoyed over their opponents to good use and after a cagey first-half they opened up after the restart. Conor Cooney was in electric form with eight points, while Joseph Cooney (0-5) and Joe Canning (0-10) also had important contributions.

As was the case, Galway looked like a team far longer on the road than Wexford. They didn’t create many goal-scoring opportunities but with forwards like the Cooneys and Niall Burke in stunning form from open play, they were happy to pick off their scores.

The turning point of the game arrived in the 39th minute when Colm Callanan dived low to his left to save Conor McDonald’s penalty. Lee Chin converted the 65 to bring Wexford behind by 0-14 to 0-12, but the winners sprinted out of sight by firing over seven scores without reply.

Wexford showed heart and refused to die. Diarmuid O’Keeffe’s goal on 52 minutes helped the Yellowbellies to within four points midway through the half, but five successive Galway points ended any hope of an upset.

Galway had 45 shots at the posts and scored 29 of them. Three games into their 2017 championship campaign, they’re averaging 32 points per game. We’ve yet to witness a team come even close to shutting down their attack.

Conor McDonald dejected after missing a penalty McDonald reacts to his missed penalty. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

As expected Wexford employed Shaun Murphy in the sweeper role right in front of his keeper, while Aidan Harte acted as Galway’s spare man at the far end.

Lee Chin was paired with Jack O’Connor at midfield, while Matthew O’Hanlon followed Joe Canning everywhere he moved on the field.

From the outset it was apparent that Galway’s game plan was to rain high ball on top of their full-forwards, who all played quite central. Conor Cooney was the biggest beneficiary of this and he slotted over three points in the opening 35 minutes.

Galway led by 0-5 to 0-3 after 13 minutes before Wexford’s slick short hand-passing game clicked into gear.

O’Hanlon, McDonald, Chin, O’Connor and Morris all hit scores in a productive 10-minute spell as they moved two points in front.

Defenders O’Hanlon and Devereux added further scores but six first-half frees from Canning left the favourites 0-14 to 0-11 ahead at the interval.

Padraic Mannion with Conor McDonald Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Wexford’s bubble looked burst when McDonald’s 40th minute penalty was saved by Callanan. Galway pulled first-half sub Thomas Monaghan out as a third midfielder and targeted their rangey wing-forwards from the puck-outs.

Joseph Cooney and Niall Burke pulled Callanan deliveries from the air and split the posts as the Tribe raced eight points in front. Then O’Keeffe’s goal arrived in the 53rd minute after a mountain of work from Guiney and, at 0-21 to 1-14, the Wexford support found their voice once again.

That’s as close as they would get, as Cooney fired three scores and Canning floated over a delightful sideline cut to end Wexford’s mini-revival.

Frees from Chin and McDonald arrived late on as Fitzgerald’s outfit chased a goal, but Thomas Monaghan and Shane Maloney arrived off the bench to round off the win with late scores.

Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 65, 0-1 sideline), Conor Cooney 0-8 (0-1f), Joseph Cooney 0-5, Niall Burke 0-2, David Burke, Padraic Mannion, Thomas Monaghan and Shane Maloney 0-1 each

Scorers for Wexford: Diarmuid O’Keeffe 1-1, Conor McDonald 0-6 (0-3f), Lee Chin 0-4 (0-2f, 0-1 65), Paul Morris and Matthew O’Hanlon 0-2 each, Willie Devereux, Jack O’Connor and Cathal Dunbar 0-1 each.

Galway

1. Colm Callanan (Kinvara)

2. Adrian Tuohy (Beagh)
3. Daithi Burke (Turloughmore)
4. John Hanbury (Rahoon/Newcastle)

5. Padraic Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
6. Gearoid McInerney (Oranmore/Maree)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort)

8. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)
9. David Burke (St. Thomas – captain)

12. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
11. Joe Canning (Portumna)
23. Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkins)

13. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)
14. Conor Cooney (St. Thomas’)
10. Niall Burke (Oranmore/Maree)

Subs:

23. Thomas Monaghan (Craughwell) for Flynn (30)
25. Shane Maloney (Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry) for Canning (67)
20. Greg Lally (Gort) for Joseph Cooney (68)

Wexford:

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn Barntown)

4. James Breen (Adamstown)
3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
2. Willie Devereux (St Martins)

8. Shaun Murphy (Oulart The Ballagh)

5. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
6. Matthew O’Hanlon (St James)
7. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Annes)

10. Jack O’Connor (St Martins)
11. Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers)

13. Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidans)
9. Aidan Nolan (Half Way House /Bunclody)
12. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna)

15. Harry Kehoe (Cloughbawn)
14. Jack Guiney (Rathnure)

Subs:

21. David Redmond (Oulart The Ballagh) for O’Connor (ht)
17. Eoin Moore (Oulart The Ballagh) for Donohoe (47)
25. Cathal Dunbar (Ballygarrett) for Kehoe (53)
23. Shane Tomkins (Askamore) for Nolan (63)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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