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30th May 2021

Brian Howard and Shane Walsh put on a show as Con wins it for Dubs

Patrick McCarry


Brian Howard is a hell of a player.

The Raheny man is one of the finest players of his generation, but he found himself in reserve for a lot of 2020 and Dessie Farrell put his stamp on the winning side he inherited from Jim Gavin.

We were left with fleeting glimpses and skilful cameos as Howard played his part, like a good soldier. Farrell’s decision to use him as an impact sub was justified, many would argue, as Dublin won another Sam Maguire.

In 2021, we are hoping to see a lot more from Howard. Football deserves to see him out there, gliding and splitting sides, from the start.

At Tuam Stadium, this afternoon, Howard was in from the get-go and he was the best player on show. That is saying something, considering the duals between Brian Fenton and Peter Cooke, the goal-poaching and crucial scores of Con O’Callaghan and Cormac Costello sticking them over the bar from all angles.

And then there was Shane Walsh. If anyone pushed Howard close to the best-in-show honours, it was Walsh.

Galway’s No.14 has long carried the attacking burden for his side, but he does it with such class and grace that you would honestly think he revelled in it.

Against the best team in the land, Walsh was the one unstoppable player in maroon. Time and again, he stepped up with big scores and set his teammates up with clear looks at the sticks.

Inspired by Walsh, Galway went in level at the break with Dublin. Caretaker Dublin manager Mick Galvin had plenty of talent on the bench, though, and Dublin edged ahead in the second half.

It was still a close enough affair, though, until Con O’Callaghan was on hand at the back post to fire in a rebound after Howard’s initial drive had been well saved.

That put Dublin four points ahead. They stretched as far as five clear when Fenton fisted over, mid-way through the half, but Galway were not done.

A late Matthew Tierney goal gave The Tribesmen hope that they could still win it. Dublin, of course, had a response of their own.

Aaron Byrne came off the bench to plunder a top-corner strike that settled it once and for all.

Fittingly – even though TG4 gave O’Callaghan their man-of-the-match award – it was Walsh popping over his 10th point of the match that was the final score of an entertaining game.


  • Donegal v Dublin
  • Tyrone v Kerry

The public vote for best player went like this – Walsh 48%, O’Callaghan 43%, Howard 9%.

In fairness, they were all class.

Our man of the match: Brian Howard (Dublin)

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