NHL Div 1 Rd 7: Waterford 1-17 Galway 1-16 April 17 2011, Walsh Park
An under-strength Waterford team ended Galway's Division 1 title defence at a sundrenched Walsh Park.
Despite heading into the final two rounds of the National Hurling League in pole position to reach their third Final in four years, Galway failed to win their last two games and thus saw a great chance of an appearance in the national decider evaporate.
Two late frees from the impressive Pauric Mahony gave the spoils to the Deise, as Galway failed to win enough primary possession to enable them get over the line, while a host of unenforced errors and a disjointed opening half showing ensured that the Tribesmen left Walsh Park empty handed.
The returning Joe Canning, who was making his first appearance of the year, helped the visitors reduce the deficit to 0-08 to 0-07 by the break, after a bright Waterford opening. Canning found the net in the second half, replying to Shane Walsh's 39th-minute goal, but the hosts pressed on and were deserving winners.
Barry Daly made his league debut for Galway at midfield, as manager John McIntyre made nine changes to the team that lost heavily to Tipperary. Canning, started at centre forward, with Damien Hayes at wing forward. For Waterford, they were missing a number of regulars including Captain Stephen Molumphy, Noel Connors, a honeymooning John Mullane and free-takers Eoin Kelly and Richie Foley.
Ballygunner clubman Pauric Mahony opened the scoring for Waterford after just ten seconds and added two-pointed frees to give Davy Fitzgerald's men a four-point head start. With Brian O'Sullivan also on target, Waterford were motoring well and Galway were scoreless until Canning pointed a free after being fouled in the 13th minute. The Portumna ace added two more frees after Johnny Coen scored from play. The Munster champions held onto their lead thanks to efforts from Shane Walsh, Shane O'Sullivan and Mahony, but Galway were improving as the half wore on. Canning, target man Iarla Tannian and Hayes landed points as the home side's lead was whittled down to just one at half-time.
Into the second half, Waterford seized the early initiative again. Mahony and Shane O'Sullivan set up Walsh for a run at the Galway defence and he rounded returning full back Shane Kavanagh to net for the game's first goal. Walsh, Daly and Shane Casey also struck points in the opening minutes, and Canning, who was found by a deft touch from Hayes, was quickly closed down as he sought out a goal of his own, and thus Waterford led by 1-12 to 0-9.
Canning did not have long to wait. He caught possession, turned and ran through on goal and rifled a stinging shot past goalkeeper Clinton Hennessy. The goal came in the 48th minute and gave Galway a much-needed boost, only for Mahony and Moran to reply with points for Waterford. A brace from Canning, the second a free, reduced the arrears to 1-15 to 1-13 as the hour approached and Hennessy had to react smartly to deny Tannian.
Mahony added a free before Tony Og Regan (free), Daly and Canning got Galway back on terms at 1-16 apiece. However, Galway were not able to close the deal and with Dublin ahead in Cork a draw was of no use to the Tribesmen. Mahony had the final say for the Deise, pointing his final free from 30 metres out.
Scorers -- Waterford: P Mahony 0-9 (8f), S Walsh 1-4, B O'Sullivan, S O'Sullivan, S Casey, K Moran 0-1 each. Galway: J Canning 1-6 (4f), D Hayes 0-3, I Tannian, B Daly 0-2 each, J Coen, N Healy, T Og Regan (f) 0-1 each.
Waterford -- C Hennessy 7; J Maher 6, L Lawlor 7, D Fives 7; T Browne 8, M Walsh 9, Philip Mahony 6; K Moran 7, E McGrath 6; G Crotty 7, S O'Sullivan 8, Pauric Mahony 8; B O'Sullivan 7, S Walsh 9, S Casey 7.
Subs: D O'Sullivan 8 for McGrath (51), E Murphy 6 for B O'Sullivan (55), J Nagle for Lawlor (67).
Galway -- J Grealish 6; D Joyce 6, S Kavanagh 5, D Collins 7; D Burke 7, T Og Regan 6, A Cullinane 7; J Coen 7, B Daly 7; D Hayes 7, J Canning 7, K Hynes 5; E Forde 5, I Tannian 6, A Callanan 6.
Subs: G O'Halloran 6 for Kavanagh (44), C Donnellan 6 for Hynes (46), N Healy 6 for Forde (53), D Barry 6 for Cullinane inj (61).
Ref -- C McAllister (Cork).