Evan Niland was in scintillating form as Galway got their Leinster SHC campaign off to a comprehensive start against Wexford with a 0-24 to 2-12 victory in Pearse Stadium yesterday.
The Clarinbridge attacker was at his elusive best as he fired over 0-13 (5f, 0-1 ’65) to deservedly leave with the man-of-the-match award as the Tribesmen got their provincial campaign off to the perfect start.
The Galway half-back line was impenetrable for the best part of the game with Pádraic Mannion, captain Daithí Burke and Joseph Cooney dominating the play while Jack Grealish gave a thunderous display behind them at corner-back.
It was far from plain sailing in the opening minutes, however, as Wexford hit them for two early goals with Liam Óg McGovern in flying form for Darragh Egan’s Model men.
That opening salvo came despite the absence of captain Lee Chin – a late casualty before throw-in along with key defender Damien Reck – but a lack of depth would eventually catch up with Wexford.
Galway responded well to the two early sucker punches as they went in level at the break, 2-5 to 0-11, and the home side started where they left off as they put the game to bed in the third quarter.
With Diarmuid O’Keeffe also labouring off, Wexford simply couldn’t keep up but they did have a lifeline midway through the half when the industrious McGovern earned a penalty.
Conor McDonald’s weak effort was easily saved by Eanna Murphy, though, and a dagger was sent further through Wexford hearts when the ball was recycled down the field with Brian Concannon firing over for a point at the other end.
After drawing with Wexford 12 months, Galway boss Henry Shefflin will be pleased with the majority of their display ahead of a huge tie against Kilkenny next weekend.
That will see ‘The King’ returning home to face his native county native in Nowlan Park as he goes head-to-head with former Cats’ team-mate, and current Kilkenny manager, Derek Lyng.