Brian Concannon hit two goals for Galway on his championship debut as Micheál Donoghue’s champions struck five past Offaly to claim their first two points of the Leinster hurling championship round robin series.
Offaly were well in the hunt at half-time and only trailed by five points, a lead that was exaggerated when Joseph Cooney goaled in added-time, but Kevin Martin’s side should have been at least on par with the westerners after nine wides before the break.
But Concannon’s second goal saw Galway pull clear, and although Joe Bergin hit the net for Offaly, further goals from Conor Whelan and substitute Jason Flynn gave Galway the win at O’Connor Park.
Shane Dooley landed his first free of the evening a minute into the game, but Conor Cooney hit back for the All-Ireland champions following a great pass from Concannon. This was Concannon’s senior championship debut and he received the dream start in the fifth minute when Conor Cooney’s shot came back off the base of the post and the in-rushing Killimordaly man deflected the ball to the net. Concannon then added a quick point for the Tribesmen for a 1-2 to 0-1 lead.
While Dooley was Offaly’s chief score getter in the opening quarter, Joseph Cooney shone at the other end and hit the first of four points in a row for his side after nine minutes.
Canning could have put Galway out of sight after 11 minutes but his penalty was brilliantly saved by Eoghan Cahill. The ball stayed in play and Offaly launched an immediate attack. Oisin Kelly’s long hand pass send Dooley in on goal and he rattle the net and three minutes later he levelled matters from a placed ball.
While Cooney looked a class apart and kept Galway’s tally mounting, Dooley benefitted from some ill-discipline from the Galway defenders and kept his side within a point as half-time approached.
But in the 35th minute, Conor Whelan gathered a James Skehill puck-out, turned and sent Joseph Cooney in on goal and his low shot found the corner for a 2-9 to 1-7 lead.
Canning hit two frees for Galway in the first four minutes after the restart to give Galway a seven-point cushion, but a Joe Bergin point from the left got Offaly up and running in the second period.
A magnificent catch from Whelan paved the way for Concannon to score his second goal nine minutes after the break, which gave his side a nine-point lead, but Offaly rallied again and a goal from Joe Bergin and a Dan Currams point gave them hope.
But Canning hit a couple of frees and a '65 for Galway, and in the final quarter last year’s provincial winners surged clear as Whelan hit the net with ten minutes to goal and Flynn made an impact with the final score in the 73rdminute.
Galway: James Skehill; Adrian Tuohey, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury; Pádraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, David Burke (c); Joe Canning (0-08, 0-06f, 0-01’65), Cathal Mannion (0-01), Joseph Cooney (1-04); Conor Whelan (1-01), Conor Cooney (0-02), Brian Concannon (2-01).
Subs used: Jason Flynn (1-00) for C Cooney (58 mins), Sean Loftus (0-01) for Coen (58), Niall Burke for C Mannion (63), Ronan Burke for Harte (65), Jonathan Glynn for Canning (67).
Offaly: Eoghan Cahill (0-01, 0-01f); Tom Spain, Seán Gardiner, Ben Conneely; Damien Egan, Pat Camon, Brendan Murphy; David King (0-02), Shane Kinsella (0-01); Conor Mahon, Dan Currams (0-01), Colin Egan; Oisín Kelly, Joe Bergin (1-01), Shane Dooley (1-09, 0-08f).
Subs used: Cillian Kiely for Mahon (52 mins), Sean Ryan for Murphy (58), Paddy Murphy for Egan (61), Tommy Geraghty for Currams (62), Tommy Rigney for Spain (68).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).