Galway edge out valiant Tipperary

Tribesmen dispatch inexperienced rivals with brace of goals either side of break

Not many teams can concede four goals and three points in the last 20-odd minutes and still win comfortably, but Galway did. And with that ended the near-fairy-tale summer for Tipperary football.

So Galway proceed to the All-Ireland quarter-final for a first appearance in in six years where they meet Kerry, as in 2008. For Tipperary that quest to make a first quarter-final will have to wait at least another year, although – as Tipp manager Peter Creedon suggested afterwards – “if there were another 10 minutes here we’d have won”.

This was not the epic battle to make the quarter-finals that the scoreboard suggests, but one brief killing. Galway first slowly then quite suddenly broke the initial resistance of their younger, more inexperienced opponents. Four goals – two each either side of half-time – swung the game in their favour and although Tipp replied later with four of their own, that was at least partly explained by Galway’s mind already shifting on to Kerry.

“Yeah, Croke Park, against Kerry


. Sure you'd have to look forward to it, and I know all the lads in there are dying to get a crack at it," said Galway manager Alan Mulholland, looking revitalised since his team's defeat to Mayo earlier in the month

“Kerry will always be tough, they looked formidable against Cork as if they’re back to their best. But we’re delighted to be in a quarter-final. I’m three years in this job and didn’t realise how hard it was to make Croke Park. And once you’re in a quarter-final, you want to go a step further, always. It’s important now that we put in another good performance the next day. Because getting to a quarter-final isn’t good enough.

“And we were disappointed with the Connacht final. This is making up for it a little bit, and the trick now is to go up and give a good account of ourselves in Croke Park.”

There is plenty to suggest that Galway will. Before a slightly disappointing double-bill crowd of 7,837, they played with fantastic pace and energy throughout. Shane Walsh stood out and midfielders Fiontan Ó Curroin and Thomas Flynn, then Danny Cummins and Michael Lundy, struck the four goals for Galway. Although three of those benefited from turnovers that punished some nervy play from Tipp.

Galway's full-forward line of Michael Martin, Paul Conroy and Cummins finished with 1-7, all from play. Some big names also came off the bench. Seán Armstrong and Damien Comer added 0-3 and there was a period early in the second half, leading by 14 points, 4-11 to 0-10, when Galway threatened to decimate Tipperary.

Instead, spurred on by rising star Colin O'Riordan, Tipp reignited the spirit that almost enabled them to beat Cork in the Munster semi-final. They struck back with four goals of their own, firstly from Brian Fox, then substitute Brian Mulvihall, a long-range stunner from O'Riordan himself, before a late penalty from Conor Sweeney. It added respect to the scoreboard and some curiosity also as to what might have been.

“It certainly was a strange game and we’ve been involved in a few of them all year,” said Tipp manager Peter Creedon. “If you told me at half-time that we’d kick 4-5 in the second half, we’d have said we’d have won it.

“But we had two really bad turnovers, just before half-time

and Galway really capitalised on them. From then on we were working hard then to get back in the game, but the lads showed fantastic character, when they could have just crawled into the ground.

“Still I think there are great grounds of optimism . . . we’ll be stronger again next year, the boys will be a year older and I think we’ll be a handful again next season.”

Everything about Galway’s performance was brimming with energy and enthusiasm. And with players of Walsh’s athleticism – coupled with the towering midfielders of Ó Curroin and Flynn – it makes for a highly-promising showdown against Kerry (as long as it doesn’t pour rain again as it did in 2008).

Mulholland certainly sounded excited by the prospect of taking on Kerry, also aware there is no way they can concede four goals.

"I won't be disrespectful to Tipperary and say we took the foot off the pedal . . . But I think our defending changed. We started to back off them rather than go out and tackle them, got a bit anxious, and invited them on to us. But coming up here we would have taken a one-point victory. Obviously now if you're going to play Kerry in Croke Park you can't defend like we did in the last 20 minutes." GALWAY: 1 Tomas Healy; 2 Donal O'Neill, 3 Finian Hanley, 4 Joss Moore; 5 Gareth Bradshaw, 6 Gary O'Donnell, 7 Paul Varley (0-1); 8 Fiontan O Curroin (1-0), 9 Tomas Flynn (1-0); 10 Michael Lundy (1-1), 11 Shane Walsh (0-5,three frees), 12 James Kavanagh; 13 Michael Martin (0-3), 14 Paul Conroy (0-3), 15 Danny Cummins (1-1). Subs: 19 D Burke for O'Donnell (33 mins, inj), 22 S Armstrong (0-2) for Cummins (50 mins), 26 A Varley (0-1) for Martin (56 mins), 25 D Comer (0-1) for Kavanagh, 23 J O'Brien for Lundy (both 58 mins), 24 E Hoare for Walsh (68 mins). TIPPERARY: 1 Paul Fitzgerald; 2 John Coghlan, 3 Paddy Codd, 4 Ciarán McDonald; 5 Colin O'Riordan (1-2), 6 Robbie Kiely, 7 Ger Mulhair; 8 Steven O'Brien (0-1), 9 George Hannigan (0-1); 10 Michael Quinlivan (0-1), 11 Brian Fox (1-0), 12 Peter Acheson (0-2); 13 Conor Sweeney (1-4, one penalty, four frees), 14 Barry Grogan (0-1), 15 Philip Austin. Subs: 20 I Fahey for Mulhair (32 mins), 23 C Kennedy for Quinlivan (44 mins), 17 A Campbell for Grogan (50 mins), 18 H Coghlan for O'Brien (54 mins, black card), 26 B Mulvihall (1-0) for Fahey (61 mins), 21 S Flynn for Austin (64 mins). Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics