Galway cruise to League glory

Galway 2-15 Waterford 1-13

Galway’s scintillating sextet of forwards inspired the Tribesmen to their first Allianz NHL Division One title since 2000, as Athenry enigma Eugene Cloonan hit two first half goals in their 2-15 to 1-13 win over Waterford at the Gaelic Grounds.

An eight title fell to Conor Hayes’ side, but a late rally from the Deise who saw Dan Shanahan scored a rebound goal from Paul Flynn’s 21-metre free with six minutes remaining, made them sweat.

Cloonan’s two goals came inside the first half hour as Galway ran up a 2-06 tally before the break.

Adrian Cullinane brushed past Eoin McGrath to score the opening point in the fifth minute.

Wayward shooting from Waterford marksman Flynn saw the number 15 miss three frees in the opening period, but the Munster men were back on level terms ninety seconds later through Shanahan’s left wing shot.

A cutting delivery from the Galway defence saw Ken McGrath foul the elusive Damien Hayes on 9 minutes, and Antrim referee Tommy McIntyre awarded the penalty.

Cloonan (2-04 in total) dispatched the sliothar with aplomb past Stephen Brenner, and pointed a free seconds later for a 1-02 to 0-01 lead.

Two further scores from the hurls of Hayes and Kevin Broderick saw Galway open up a six-point lead.

Waterford rallied back with Shanahan again successful from the left, Dave Bennett sending over a crashing drive and Eoin Kelly rousing the crowd for Waterford’s fourth point in the twentieth minute.

Cloonan dispersed a poor run of wides with his second goal on 27 minutes, scooping up a loose ball to beat Eoin McGrath for pace and strike low past Brenner’s dive.

Points from Cloonan and Alan Kerins were cancelled out on 32 and 35 minutes by Shanahan and Flynn (free), with Shanahan guilty of missing a clear cut goal in injury time, seeing the sliothar hop wide off his shin with the goal a-begging.

Galway did not let the foundations of their 2-06 to 0-06 half time lead settle after the restart, as first David Forde and then Cloonan and Alan Kerins found the target from similar distances.

With a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, a brace of Flynn frees and a John Mullane point, despite being pushed sideways by Damien Joyce, saw Waterford 0-09 to 2-11 down, with Forde and Cloonan again off the mark.

Cullinane scorched over his second of the afternoon and substitute Rory Gantley found the right flank to his liking, pointing from 45 metres but Waterford held more in reserve. Back they came as Flynn’s goal-bound shot was batted away by Liam Donoghue, Shanahan reacted the quickest to fire the rebound home. Eoin Kelly pointed with four minutes remaining to leave Galway just six points in front, 2-13 to 1-10.

Flynn had another chance to find the net from a close range free but his shot blazed over and with that went Waterford’s hopes of ending a 41-year league drought.

Broderick and Hayes wrapped up the Galway scoring, with Stephen Prendergast and Flynn again on target in injury time.

Man-of-the-match Ollie Canning spoke afterwards of his feelings on Galway’s progression.

“We’re delighted to obviously win the league but we won’t be getting carried away,” said the corner back, “we have a few weeks now before the championship begins for us, but we’re shaping up nicely.”

Waterford - S Brenner, J Murray, T Feeney, E McGrath, T Browne, K McGrath, B Phelan, A Moloney, M Walsh, E Kelly 0-2, S Prendergast 0-1, D Bennett 0-1, J Mullane 0-1, D Shanahan 1-3, P Flynn 0-5. Subs used: J Kennedy for Moloney, E Murphy for Bennett.

Galway - L Donoghue, D Joyce, D Cloonan, O Canning, D Hardiman, D Hayes, D Collins, F Healy, T O'Regan, A Cullinane 0-2, D Forde 0-2, A Kerins 0-2, D Hayes 0-2, E Cloonan 2-4, K Broderick 0-2. Subs used: F Moore for O’Regan, R Gantley 0-1

Most Read in Sport