David Collins dropped out of the inter-county carousel in late 2016, but he didn’t let time gloss over the memory. “I’ve always hated playing in Dublin!” admits the former Galway captain.
Ollins cites various reasons – tagging Conal Keaney and Liam Rushe was quite a tall order even without Galway’s pathological fear of Parnell Park – all of which help explain the intriguing dynamic of this very modern hurling rivalry.
Here’s the thing: If you were asked to choose between sky blue and maroon at the start of each year as an All-Ireland contender, most often you would name Galway. However, this is at odds with their head-to-head story.
They have met just 11 times in SHC clashes and heading into Saturday’s final encounter at Pearse Stadium, Dublin lead with seven wins and a draw against three losses.
Even discounting Dublin’s first three triumphs (1920, 1924 and 1941) on the basis of sepia-toned irrelevance, the so-called underdogs have won more than they have lost.
This long-dormant championship rivalry was revived in 2011 when Anthony Dalys Dublin emphatically won the Leinster semifinals at Tullamore, as they were when they made Leinster finals history in 2013.
A difficult stalemate followed in 2015 before Galway finally celebrated their first win of the summer against Dublin, blitzing them in a Tullamore replay; They repeated the dose two years later in the same place, and then clipped a Leinster round robin dead rubber in 2018.
But the arrival of a Galway man on the Dublin hot seat coincided with another twist. In a Donnycarney cauldron, Mattie Kenny famously drove his own County out of the 2019 All-Ireland race with a dramatic coup on the final day of the round-robin series. Last summer it was a different venue, Croke Park, but the same script, Dublin won their Leinster semi-final by four points.
Unlike 2019, Galway can at least approach Saturday’s final group outing with the knowledge that their place in the All-Ireland series is secured. Dublin have no such guarantees for Salthill: they need at least a draw or a favor from Kilkenny to finish in the top three.
Henry Shefflin’s men are warm 2/9 favourites, perhaps no surprise given Dublin’s disastrous fadeout against Kilkenny last weekend. But Collins is wary of such perceptions, in part because of his own painful memories, both in the league and the Championship.
“Before 2011, Dublin would never have been on Galway’s radar in terms of the level of competition. But you always feared her,” he says.
“Playing Dublin at Parnell Park was our biggest fear… They always seemed able to improve at home, while it seemed like we just shut down at those games for a long time.”
All of this meant that 11 years ago, when they finally met in the Leinster battle, “we were wary of them 100pc because their work performance was exceptional. They might not have been the fantastic, gifted slingers that we would have encountered with the likes of Cork and Kilkenny, but we always knew the rate of work was in Dublin. They were phenomenal athletes, and Daly had them drill up to an inch of their lives.”
That same year – 2011 – Ryan O’Dwyer became an adopted dub after moving from his native Tipperary.
“Now I don’t know how it was before, I can’t compare it, but with Dalo on board there was a belief. And I suppose a big part of it – probably the main part of it – was a man named Declan Coyle. He was our ‘senior doctor’, you could call him,” said O’Dwyer.
Dublin had been humiliated by Antrim last summer; Now the combination of a dramatically changed mindset and the confidence born of a stunning league campaign has seen Dublin overwhelm Galway and eventually progress to the All Ireland semi-finals.
Two years later, after enduring replays against Wexford and Kilkenny, they overwhelmed Galway down the stretch and won a famous Leinster final by 12 points.
Among Anthony Cunningham’s losing leadership team that day was a certain Mattie Kenny, who is now hoping to invade his home tribe for a third straight season.
“I found Galway absolutely shocking last year,” says O’Dwyer, who also reminds you that Dublin routed an admittedly experimental Galway 3-29 to 0-19 in the Walsh Cup in January.
But he is less confident about Saturday’s result. While Dublin’s defense against Kilkenny was “absolutely awesome”, O’Dwyer felt they were let down by their forwards “because there wasn’t a fight there, there wasn’t a kid ready to put his body up there on the.” to throw line.
“Listen I hope I’m wrong and I hope Dublin win on Saturday but I just think it will be a Galway win. And then they will immediately reach into their phones to check the results of the other game. They will check their phones instead of taking selfies!”
Seriously, Collins believes the pressure is on Galway even if they can’t be eliminated from Dublin’s Liam MacCarthy race.
“Galway need to win this game I think just to put them on the right foot and keep them in that winning mood because if you lose games you shouldn’t lose it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. “
And will they?
As a player, he was always afraid of the dubs, but now as a fan, Collins has the luxury of predicting, “I think they’re going to win it. I think they are good enough.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/hurling/history-with-dublin-has-galway-on-red-alert-ahead-of-pearse-stadium-showdown-41664343.html The Dublin affair has Galway on high alert ahead of the showdown at Pearse Stadium