Galway's modern machine summed up by Shane O'Neill's shout at Daithí Burke 1 week ago

Galway's modern machine summed up by Shane O'Neill's shout at Daithí Burke

Galway 4-28 Waterford 3-23

They'd come a long way for this summer Sunday in Salthill but Waterford made it clear from the minute they stepped into the sun, that they weren't here to admire the surroundings.

This mission began long before the throw-in as if you looked at the warm-ups, you'd have seen Galway tipping around at their leisure while GPS vests down the other end of the field already had a day's work done.

We should have called it a sign of things to come.

Shane Bennett hasn't picked up a hurl in the guts of two years but the Prodigal son jumped so high into the clouds to catch a ball over Darren Morrissey's head after five minutes that it looked for a second if he was swimming in clean air. It was nothing Jack Prendergast hadn't seen before as by the time Bennett came back down to Galway, he'd peeled off Daithi Burke and in to score the first goal of what turned out to be a pulsating Pearse Stadium game.

If Waterford were moving in the warm-up then they were flying by the tenth minute and it was around then when Calum Lyons steamed onto a ball in his own half back-line only to scald three Galway men as if they'd never ran a step in their lives. The white flag was soon waving for the most athletic hurler in the country.

In a day of firsts, this was a new experience for Daithi Burke with the Turloughmore bear dragged from his square for a new station in the half back line. He was far from a fish out of water at 6 but the industrious Jack Prendergast was so unwilling to stand still that Daithí walked into to a baptism of fire. Pender won the early hands but it wasn't long before Daithí found his feet.

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It was around then too, when Joe Canning stopped chasing Calum Lyons only to treat the lucky few at Pearse Stadium to a point-taking tutorial, the Portumna man twisting and turning and drilling them over from his new home at full forward. Joe would only have had to look out in front of him to see Conor Whelan up and running in that come-and-get-me style of his, and even the dogs on the street know that when Whelan puts the head down, there's trouble on the way. The Kinvara club-man was instrumental in a first half fight-back that brought Galway from seven points down at one stage to four up at the break.

Somewhere in the middle of the first half scoring blizzard, there was a Bennett special where Stephen passed to Kieran who set up Shane for a goal that has been scored so many times before in a Ballysaggart back garden. You'd hope they enjoyed it because this was as good as it would get for Waterford, with Galway's final 45 minutes of hurling as crisp, as slick as clinical as you'll see anywhere, anytime, any place.

It all changed with an unanswered 2-4 burst just before the break and it was then when the red-hot Brian Concannon went to town to get a few jobs done. As it turned out, the Killimordaly player was involved in all four of Galway's goals as he spoke to anyone who's ever under-rated him in no uncertain terms. Joe Canning finished from a Concannon pass to send Waterford into the dressing room wondering how the hell they were sitting there, four points down.

Try as Dessie Hutchinson did with a sparkling second half showing, there was just no beating a Galway side for whom Evan Niland is so accurate you'd mistake him for some sort of next generation robot. By now, Daithí Burke was making himself comfortable and though Calum Lyons performed miracles yet again, scoring five from play from right half back, Galway were in one of those moods.

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By the end of it, Liam Cahill must have been a bit frazzled as he thought about scoring 3-23 only to lose a game of hurling by eight points. It wasn't that Waterford were poor, it's more of a reflection of the standards this great game is reaching these days because all you had to do was take a look around you to see some ridiculous touches, passes and scores. Shane O'Neill might think about the 3-23 as well, but he'll be more impressed by a certain 4-28.

Indeed, If anything summed up Galway's irresistible machine, it was an angry bark from O'Neill after Daithí Burke had cleared a ball without looking and into no-man's land. For Galway, this was total blasphemy as by this writer's estimation, it was one of the only times they coughed up possession voluntarily in what was a near perfect second half display. "Move your feet" shouted O'Neill with a mix of method and madness and if you didn't know before, you definitely knew then that this is a modern Galway machine fuelled by three commandments. Constant movement, razor-sharp execution and sky-high standards.

On this Sunday, they even exceeded themselves.

Galway

1 Eanna Murphy

2 Shane Cooney

6 Gearoid McInerney

4 Darren Morrissey

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5 Padraic Mannion

3 Daithi Burke (0-1)

7 Fintan Burke

8 Johnny Coen

12 Sean Loftus (0-2)

10 Adrian Tuohey (1-0)

11 Cathal Mannion (0-2)

9 Joe Canning (1-8, 0-4 frees, 0-1 sideline)

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13 Conor Whelan (0-6)

14 Conor Cooney (0-3)

15 Brian Concannon (2-2)

Subs: Evan Niland (0-3) for Coen (29), Aidan Harte for Shane Cooney (39) Jack Fitzpatrick for Harte (inj, 40), Joseph Cooney for Adrian Tuohey (48), TJ Brennan for Fintan Burke (60), Sean Linnane for Sean Loftus (62),  Kevin Cooney for Joe Canning (64).

Waterford

1 Shaun O'Brien

2 Conor Gleeson

3 Conor Prunty

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4 Shane McNulty

5 Calum Lyons (0-5)

6 Austin Gleeson

7 Seamus Keating

8 Jamie Barron (0-1)

9 Jake Dillon

10 Neil Montgomery (0-1)

15 Jack Prendergast (1-2)

12 Kieran Bennett (0-1)

13 Dessie Hutchinson (1-3)

14 Stephen Bennett (0-5, 0-1 65 0-3 free)

11 Shane Bennett (1-1)

Subs: Jack Fagan for Neil Montgomery (50), Darragh Lyons for Shane Bennett (54), Patrick Curran (0-1) for Jake Dillon (55), Kevin Moran for Austin Gleeson (60), Peter Hogan for Jack Prendergast (63), Shane Fives for Seamus Keating (65).