Tipperary crowned hurling champions

 

Tipperary have won the All-Ireland hurling final after a thrilling championship decider against double seeking Galway at Croke Park this afternoon.

Nicky English's team deserved their victory but having opened up a sizeable lead early in the first half, they allowed their opponents hit back by closing and the gap was reduced to just two points at half-time.

As can be expected on such an occasion, tension and passion ruled the opening exchanges and the game never found an honest tempo until midway through the first period. While both sides exchanged points early on, the game only sparked to life after Mark O'Leary's opening goal in the 22nd minute.

Declan Ryan's foray towards goal came to a abrupt halt when he met a sturdy wall of maroon jerseys, but the Tipp man cleverly flicked the ball to his outside where O'Leary collected.

The Kilruane McDonagh's man tore towards goal, shortened his grip on the hurl to prevent the hook, and hit an unstoppable shot past Galway net-minder Michael Crimmins.

Eugene Cloonan, so inspirational for Galway in the semi-final defeat of Kilkenny, hit back for the Tribesmen two minutes later to keep them in touch heading for the break.

Joe Rabbitte's well struck shot was brilliantly saved by Brendan Cummins but the ball squirmed lose and into Cloonan's path where he made no mistake from close range.

Tipperary led at the break with the scoreline at 1-9 to 1-7.

Tipperary found their feet after the restart and kept Galway pinned in their own half for the opening ten minutes of the second period. That period proved to be a crucial stage of the game as Tipperary opened up a commanding lead which Galway never bridged.

Mark O'Leary again found himself in space deep in Galway territory two minutes after the restart. He collected the ball and raced towards Michael Crimmins' net with the Galway defence in hot pursuit. Despite making poor contact with the ball, O'Leary did enough to chip it over the line and beat the advancing Crimmins.

Declan Ryan and the excellent Tipperary captain Thomas Dunne then slotted over successive points within a minute to leave Galway reeling. Lar Corbett, who was near anonymous in the first half, pressed home Tipp's momentum with a fine brace of points moments later.

Galway survived what should have been a match winning score on 50 minutes when Declan Ryan dragged an honest goal opportunity just wide of the right hand post. And that episode spurred Galway into gear and the Tribesmen hit back in style moments later.

Corner forward Fergal Healy sneaked inside his marker, creeping goalwards along the end line. Having shaken off his marker and cut back inside, Healy sized up the angle before rifling a fierce shot high into the goal, leaving Brendan Cummins with no chance.

Galway were now playing with a renewed confidence and trailed by a single point with nine minutes to play. But rather than maintain the pressure that had bored wholes in the Tipp defence, Galway sat back and allowed Tipperary attack.

Eoin Kelly, Mark O'Leary and second half substitute Paddy O'Brien all pointed before Kevin Broderick replied with a few of his own to leave Galway in with a chance.

While Cloonan and Healy pointed deep into injury time it was a simple case of too little too late as Tipperary lifted the Liam McCarthy for the first time in a decade.