By Mark Jones
DUBLIN – After last week’s setback against Offaly, Galway rediscovered their winning ways in the National Hurling League when they outdueled Clare by 0-12 to 0-9 despite shooting 21 wides at Ballinasloe last Sunday. There was relief all around for supporters and manager Noel Lane alike.
"There was no comparison with the previous game," Lane said. "I’m very happy with the style of direct hurling and the general approach of the team."
Lane would also have been happy with the contribution of David Tierney in midfield. Apart from scoring three points, Tierney’s catching and passing were a joy to watch. Galway’s defense was also impressive, with Clare manager Cyril Lyons forced to make a series of switches in attack.
Although Jamesie O’Connor had to retire after half an hour with a hamstring injury, Clare’s attacking problems were such that only full forward Conor Clancy stayed in his original position before he too was substituted in the closing minutes.
Meath 1-12, Dublin 0-11
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Also in Div. 1A, Meath bridged a seven-year gap with a first competitive win over Dublin since in 1994 when they took the points in Navan.
Although James Canty’s 56th-minute goal ultimately made the difference, Fergus McMahon’s total of nine points was also vital for the victors.
The game proved to be an unhappy start for the new Dublin manager, Kevin Fennelly, who was appointed after a lengthy public trawl by the Dublin county board. Things could go from bad to worse given that Fennelly has to host Galway next weekend.
Antrim 2-13, Offaly 2-9
Offaly, who had shocked Galway in the opening game of the competition, couldn’t maintain any momentum at Casement Park, where Antrim ran out surprise winners. The Ulster county were in control after the interval, but it was only near the end of the game when Johnny McIntosh struck for two goals in the space of three minutes that Offaly’s challenge was killed off.
Kilkenny 3-16, Laois 0-11
In Div. 1B, Henry Shefflin inspired Kilkenny to victory against Laois at Nowlan Park. Shefflin hit 1-5 of his team’s total, while newcomer Tom Drennan scored two goals.
Laois were always struggling to contain Kilkenny, but any slim hopes they had disappeared in the 49th minute when Damien Culleton was sent off for challenge on Dermot Grogan.
Tipperary 2-15, Derry 0-6
Tipperary’s first game of the campaign proved to be a saunter as they eased past Derry by 2-15 to 0-6 at Slaughtneil. First-half goals by John Carroll and Lar Corbett set the tone as Derry’s forward line could manage only one point.
Wicklow moved onto top spot courtesy of a 2-13 to 1-14 victory over Carlow, while second-placed Kildare drew 2-13 to 3-10 with Down. Westmeath defeated Roscommon 4-8 to 1-14 and Louth edged out Armagh by 0-15 to 0-13.
Tyrone took over as leaders of Div. 3 with a 2-15 to 5-4 victory against Mayo, Donegal hammered Cavan by 5-17 to 1-8, Sligo defeated Leitrim by 2-11 to 1-7, and Fermanagh beat Monaghan by 1-12 to 1-8.