It was a difficult afternoon for Galway on Sunday. For large parts of the Allianz Hurling League semi-final clash against Waterford, they looked in control and en route to a final meeting with Limerick.
However, they let it slip in the final quarter despite being a man up as Waterford finished strongly to book their place in Division 1 final this coming weekend.
There was a lot to unpack from Sunday’s encounter, Jamie Barron has received a lot of plaudits for his performance and rightly so, the Nire-Fourmilewater man was influential on the day for the Déise at midfield, however, another number eight proved influential on the day also.
Cathal Mannion was excellent from start to finish for the Tribesmen and in the grand scheme of things, he didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. He was a threat going forward as well as a rock defensively.
The Ahascragh man is our focus on this week’s edition of ‘Spotlight’.
Cathal Mannion lined out at midfield on the day and he came out of the blocks firing in the opening couple of minutes.
After Waterford hit the first wide of the game after 30 seconds, Fergal Flannery wastes no time whatsoever in restarting the play. He goes long towards midfielder, Johnny Coen, who collects.
Mannion drifts down the left-hand touchline unopposed and is spotted by Coen who tees him up for the first score of the game.
We only needed to wait two minutes for Mannion’s next big involvement in the game.
By this point, Galway have grabbed an early foothold of the game. Coen and Mannion are dominating proceedings around the middle third.
Joe Canning has just pointed for Galway and from the resulting puck-out, Mannion uses his strength to gain possession before stepping inside two Waterford defenders and offloading to Brian Concannon who turns on a sixpence and fires straight over the bar.
As the game edges towards half-time, Waterford have clawed their way back in but Galway aren’t prepared to give up their momentum.
A free from Flannery is sent long into the corner towards Conor Whelan, however, he is unable to gather possession. Niall Burke is the first man to scoop up the ball and he plays it towards Kevin Hussey who is hanging around the centre-forward position.
Hussey finds himself under pressure and is unable to trap the ball but he is able to flick it towards Mannion who scoops it up before beautifully turning away from the Waterford defence and firing straight over the bar to increase the Galway lead.
It was a tough loss to take for Galway on the day having looked like they were heading towards the final for large parts.
Unfortunately, they crumbled in the last 15 minutes and plenty of their big stars failed to show up on the day.
Cathal Mannion can hold his head high though, on the day he was everywhere for Galway and when they needed leaders to step up he was on hand.
Will he remain at midfield is the only question? Do Galway need him further up the field? Whatever the answer, there can be no disputing that his performances have a huge bearing on this team.