Future bright for Galway as they seal 10th minor hurling title
Tipperary’s quest for a minor double undone by early second half goal blitz at Croke Park
Sean Loftus lifts the trophy after Galway’s minor hurling final win over Tipperary at Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho
We got a glimpse into the future here, as Galway – utilising a sweeper with clinical efficiency – produced an all-round performance that mixed elegant skills, some fine goal-taking and proficiency in defence to deservedly claim “The Irish Press” Cup with a comprehensive six points to spare over Tipperary, so often their nemesis in this championship.
Galway, who had shown great heart to overcome Kilkenny in a semi-final replay last month, didn’t require any late dramatics. This time, Galway’s goal poaching machine – which saw two players enter the fray off the bench and score with first touches – had them out of reach long before referee Paud O’Dwyer blew the final whistle to officially rubberstamp a 10th minor championship title for the Westerners.
For sure, the conveyor belt from west of the Shannon would appear to be in good working order and names like Evan Niland, who endorsed his sharpshooting reputation with a haul of nine points, Jack Coyne, Seán Loftus and Shane Bannon among others destined for greater things as they move along the grades.
Tipperary’s quest for a minor double – they face Kerry in the football final in a fortnight – was undone by Galway’s ability to source goals, each one clinically taken by four different players. Did the demands of chasing dual honours catch up on some players? Who knows for sure; but Galway were certainly the sharper team and, having gone in level at the break, raised the tempo in the second-half to move beyond Tipperary’s reach.
The first-half was evenly contested, with Galway operating a two-man attack - team captain Loftus, notionally named at corner-forward, operated as a sweeper to great effect – and Tipperary level no fewer than seven times in that first 30 minutes. Indeed, the HawkEye operatives were also kept busy as the referee three times went to the eye in the sky to determine the validity of points: one was ruled wide, the other two points.
Galway goalkeeper Darragh Gilligan produced a fine diving save in the 13th minute to deny Garry Ryan, with Brian McGrath pointing the resulting 65 to put Tipperary in front for the first time.
It was to be shortlived, as Coyne – confirmed by HawkEye – pointing almost immediately and then Galway put together a move involving McGrath and Coyne and finished by Brian Concannon that brought the game’s first goal. But it was nip and tuck until half-time, with Galway’s 1-7 to Tipperary’s 0-10 leaving the sides level.
On the resumption, though, Galway dominated with two goals inside two minutes making all the difference: in the 38th minute, Concannon turned supplier to set up substitute Liam Forde, a matter of seconds on the field, and then, in the 40th minute, Cianan Fahy fired home to give Galway a 3-10 to 0-11 advantage.
The icing on the cake was provided Michael Lynch, fresh off the bench, who claimed his side’s fourth goal in a lightning response to Tommy Nolan’s goal for Tipperary.
GALWAY: D Gilligan; C Connor, J Fitzpatrick, S Bannon; C Mulry, I O’Brien, A Greaney; J Coyne (0-2), J Grealish; B Colcannon (1-0), T Monaghan (0-1), F Burke; C Fahy (1-0), E Niland (0-9, eight frees), S Loftus (0-1). Subs: L Forde (1-0) for Burke (37 mins), C McDaid for O’Brien (55 mins), C Salmon for Fahy (55 mins), M Lynch (1-0) for Concannon (59 mins), R Malone for Greaney (60 mins). TIPPERARY: P Hayes; E Heffernan, E Moloney, J Quigley; K Hassett, B McGrath (0-3, free, 65), D Peters (0-1, 65); S Quirk (0-2), L McCutcheon; C Darcy (0-2, frees), G Ryan, A Tynan (0-1); T Nolan (1-2), D Gleeson, L Fairbrother (0-5, four frees). Subs: R Mulrooney for McCutcheon (20 mins), J Skehan for Ryan (42 mins), M Connors (0-1) for Fairbrother (44 mins), S Neville for Gleeson (55 mins). Referee: P ODwyer (Carlow)