Galway 5-29 Antrim 1-22
Galway manager Henry Shefflin is looking at next weekend’s Leinster SHC clash with Dublin as a knockout game as they both try to get to a Leinster final meeting with his native Kilkenny.
Galway, having earlier defeated Westmeath by 44 points, had 19 points to spare in another facile win at Pearse Stadium where the tempo was little above challenge match level against an understrength Antrim side.
But now Shefflin is relishing the prospect of some serious championship action against a Dublin side managed by Galway’s 2017 All-Ireland-winning boss Micheál Donoghue.
“We would envisage next weekend as a knockout game,” said Shefflin. “We want to qualify for the Leinster final, so do Dublin. It should be set up for a good battle between the sides. That bit of pressure is starting to come.”
The loss of Cathal Mannion to yet another hamstring injury and a knock to the head which ended wing-back Fintan Burke’s afternoon, were the downsides on an afternoon where Galway led by more than double scores, 2-15 to 1-7, at the interval, having played with the breeze.
Conor Whelan got both goals after Antrim got off the mark with a goal from a penalty from Conal Cunning after just over a minute when Galway goalkeeper Eanna Murphy escaped a black card for hauling down Niall McKenna.
Antrim, seeking a first championship win over Galway in 80 years, kept plugging away even if their sights were on next weekend’s possible relegation showdown with Westmeath, but the scores and goals kept flowing after the restart with Kevin Cooney, after a great passing move, Tom Monaghan and Liam Collins rattling the net.
The points kept flowing from both sides without the final issue ever being questioned. Next weekend the business stuff will start for both these sides. Not before time after another painfully one-sided game.
Galway: E Murphy; J Grealish, G McInerney, D Morrissey; P Mannion (0-2), D Burke, F Burke; J Cooney (0-2), C Mannion; R Glennon, E Niland (0-8, 0-3f, 0-2 ‘65), C Cooney (0-7); K Cooney (1-2), C Whelan (2-0), D McLaughlin (0-4). Subs: T Monaghan (1-2) for C Mannion (7), TJ Brennan (0-1) for F Burke (16), A Tuohey (0-1) for D Burke (53), L Collins (1-0) for Whelan (53), J Ryan for J Cooney (63).
Antrim: T Smyth; P Burke (0-3), G Walsh, S Rooney; C Boyd, N O’Connor, R McGarry; K Molloy (0-1), C Cunning (1-3, 1-0pen, 0-2f); E O’Neill (0-1), N McKenna (0-1), D Nugent (0-1); E Og McGarry (0-1), J McNaughton (0-5, 0-2f, 0-1 ‘65), C Johnston (0-3). Subs: J Maskey (0-1) for Nugent (50), D McKiernan (0-2) for Cunning (50), S Walsh for Molloy (53), A Bradley for O’Neill (55-58, blood), C McKiernan for Burke (64).
Referee: M Kennedy (Tipperary).