Hawkeye Sidekick

All Ireland Hurling Semi-Final: Clare 1-30 1-30 Galway

I write this blog a day after an epic tussle, a tussle for the ages as Galway and Clare battled and could not be separated. Sixty-two scores during the ninety minutes of high octane action. Credit both sides for meeting adversity head up and in truth, a draw was a fair outcome. Hawkeye Sidekick highlights the key points from the contest.

Did Clare miss their chance? 

Heading into second period of extra time, Galway’s lineup had a completely different look and feel to it. Gone were the likes of McInerney, Tuohy, Canning, Whelan, David Burke from the lineup who left everything on the pitch. Galway were on the ropes; defensively vulnerable with every ball launched into the full forward line. Clare hit several poor wides during the extra time period and needed Jason McCarthy to make a superb run and shot to level proceedings and secure the replay. Given the personnel issues that Galway faced, Clare will not get a better opportunity to beat this Galway outfit. Injuries may tell us different this week within the Galway camp but this was a missed opportunity for Clare in extra time to secure their All Ireland final ticket.

Galway Opening Period Wide Woe

Galway were truly dominant in the opening fifteen minutes. 1-7 to 0-1 in the ascendancy and Galway were then guilty of some very uncharacteristic misses thereafter allowing Clare to get a foothold back into the contest. The shot selection from long distances was not working; the distribution inside to the full forward was not to the quality of the earlier exchanges but also Clare’s decision to drop Galvin into a defensive role mitigated Galway’s threat inside to a certain extent. Galway will rue this opening period of the game; Clare were on the ropes but Galway lacked composure. The missed goal from Cathal Mannion a perfect example; perfect setup but a lax first touch cost Galway a certain goal.

Clare Puck Out Strategy

I felt so sorry for Donal Tuohy in the first quarter of this contest. The net minder’s distribution was being exposed with static Clare outfield players not coming to meet the sliothar. Galway’s players were wise to the tactic and the opening quarter dominance came from this facet of play. Credit Tuohy though, he changed tact and started to deliver the puck outs immediately with colleagues receiving the time and space to launch attacks. Tuohy also produced several key stops during the contest. Tuohy can feel proud of how he dealt with the adverse start to the fixture.

Clare resilience 

Clare were unfazed by the early start; they were not at the races for the first seventeen minutes of this encounter but then the switch of Galvin added with Galway’s indecisive scoring accuracy gave the Bannermen a way back into the contest. Tony Kelly, Peter Duggan came to the fore as the half wore on, helped in no small part by Galvin’s quality distribution from deep. John Conlon then got into the act during the second half; running Daithi Burke into wide areas, exposing ankle issues and scoring four quality scores from play. Clare’s management and team came through the opening period crisis with massive respect; only four points down at the break was not a disaster.

Galway Squad Depth 

Galway’s first fifteen side are extremely talented. The attacking performance of Conor Cooney, Jonathan Glynn was to the fore. Joe Canning continued to work the scoreboard. Cathal Mannion had several impressive long range scores. The midfield unit of Burke and Coen dominated for periods of the game; Burke in the second half was excellent, hit a couple of quality scores. The back line were manfully sticking to the task with Burke at full back heroic with his ankle problem and McInerney typically robust and physical clearing endless ball. When key players left the pitch for Galway, the leadership waned badly.

Paul Killeen is a superb player but to ask the player to close out the contest in the half back line / sweeper role was an arduous task. The attacking options of Flynn and Niall Burke impressed but key decision making from the two players at the death exposed composure issues. Niall Burke’s sideline cut going wide setting up the Clare attack to level the game; perhaps keeping the ball in play and finding a Galway player to kill the clock was the best option. Flynn missed a free that if Canning was on the pitch probably would have scored. Fine margins. Galway’s squad bench impact was exposed yesterday.

Aron Shanagher

Great goal from the Wolfe Tones player in extra-time. The Wolfe Tones clubman has endured a trying twelve months with knee injury problems. A quality turn and strike which setup Clare to win this contest. The player will be a threat in the replay next weekend. Galway have being warned.