Fintan O’Toole reports from Croke Park
THEY WERE TESTED in the first half but by the final whistle Dublin had produced another formidable show of strength to take care of business in an All-Ireland semi-final.
Shane Walsh found a route through the Dublin rearguard deep in injury-time, as he dribbled the ball and fired a shot low to the net. It was a consolation strike for Galway and chipped away at Dublin’s advantage to ensure nine points was the difference at the final whistle.
But this was an evening when Jim Gavin’s side were in control through their second-half efforts, propelled forward by another devastating impact by their substitutes. Their dreams of an All-Ireland four-in-a-row are intact and they have one more assignment now to pass on 2 September.
The early stages were defined by a pair of goalscoring opportunities for Galway. Damien Comer took the first in the 9th minute but Eamonn Brannigan couldn’t match him three minutes later.
Comer availed when Stephen Cluxton approached from his line to rise above a couple of Dublin defenders and direct a powerful punch to the net. Then when Comer was felled, Brannigan’s attempt to tuck his penalty into the bottom corner was repelled by a finger tip save from Cluxton. To rub salt in Galway’s wound, Shane Walsh’s kick drifted wide from the resultant ’45.
Dublin gathered their thoughts after that and pushed clear with a Dean Rock 21st minute free leaving it 0-7 to 1-1 in their favour. When Galway drew level, inspired by the excellent Ian Burke, Dublin duly attacked downfield with a move culminating in Niall Scully presenting Con O’Callaghan with the simple task of palming to the net in the 27th minute.
That strike was a springboard for Dublin, they were ahead 1-9 to 1-5 approaching the interval, but Galway gave themselves a boost heading in at the break thanks to quality efforts from Walsh and Burke.
Adrift 1-9 to 1-7, Galway needed a bright start to the second half to remain in the hunt. Dublin bagged an opening brace of scores before Thomas Flynn kicked a fine point for Galway. They were in arrears 1-11 to 1-8 by the 46th minute but that was as promising as their situation looked.
Dublin started to assert their authority, possessing a 1-15 to 1-10 advantage as they entered the third quarter and then their substitutes began to make their mark. Cormac Costello, Kevin McManamon and Paul Flynn contributed 0-6 between them, a tally that was a key ingredient in Dublin’s victory.
The points flowed for Dublin in the closing stages – six white flags raised after the 65th minute – and Galway could not replicate their encouraging first-half form. The contest had been settled by the time of Walsh’s late strike, Dublin moving forward to an All-Ireland final date as Galway were left to reflect on their 2018 efforts.
Scorers for Dublin: Con O’Callaghan 1-3, Dean Rock 0-5 (0-4f), Paul Mannion 0-4, Ciarán Kilkenny, Cormac Costello (0-1f) 0-3 each, Brian Fenton, Kevin McManamon 0-2 each, Brian Howard, Paul Flynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 1-5 (0-3f), Damien Comer 1-1, Ian Burke 0-2, Gary O’Donnell, Thomas Flynn, Micheál Daly, Johnny Heaney 0-1 each.
1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)
24. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)
3. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
4. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
5. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)
6. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf)
8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
26. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
11. Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock)
12. Brian Howard (Raheny)
13. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
14. Dean Rock (Ballymun)
15. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala) for O’Sullivan (inj) (28)
19. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille) for Scully (44)
23. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s) for Rock (56)
9. Michael Darragh MacAuley (Ballyboden St-Enda’s) for Murchan (57)
20. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens) for Small (65)
21. Paul Flynn (Fingallians) for McCaffrey (67)
1. Ruairí Lavelle (Salthill/Knocknacarra)
2. Declan Kyne (Clonbur)
3. Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Naomh Ánna/Leitir Mór)
4. Eoghan Kerin (Annaghdown)
5. Cathal Sweeney (Killannin)
6. Gareth Bradshaw (Moycullen)
12. Seán Kelly (Moycullen)
21. Ciarán Duggan (Annaghdown)
9. Tom Flynn (Athenry)
22. Johnny Heaney (Killanin)
10. Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin/Clonberne)
15. Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael’s)
13. Ian Burke (Corofin)
14. Damien Comer (Annaghdown)
17. Seán Armstrong (Salthill-Knocknacarra)
19. Michael Daly (Mountbellew-Moylough) for Armstrong (46)
8. Peter Cooke (Moycullen) for Brannigan (51)
7. Gary O’Donnell (Tuam Stars) for Cathal Sweeney (55)
25. Adrian Varley (Cortoon Shamrocks) for Heaney (59)
23. Kieran Molloy (Corofin) for Kerin (65)
20. Johnny Duane (St James) for Bradshaw (67)
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)