Galway have a date with Limerick after Tipp run out of gas

Defending All-Ireland champions go out on their shield as Tribesmen march into semis

Galway 3-23 Tipperary 2-24

Shane O’Neill will face his former Limerick Under-21 team mate John Kiely in next Sunday’s mouth watering All-Ireland semi-final after his Galway team navigated a way through Tipperary in another wildly entertaining shootout between the teams.

The win was a significant achievement in O’Neill’s first season and a convincing response to Galway’s worrying stall against Kilkenny in the Leinster final. Here, they closed out the game convincingly despite drifting into a six point deficit early in the second-half.

The game started at a furious scoring rate and was lit by a series of eye-catching individual plays with the momentum lurching from side to side. But the dismissal of Cathal Barrett, after the livewire Tipp defender picked up a second yellow card in the 53rd minute, left the All-Ireland champions in a perilous position.


All through the championship, Liam Sheedy had shuffled his squad and Tipp seemed to be gaining momentum through the slog of winter: Noel McGrath shot 0-4 in a masterful first-half; Patrick Bonner Maher fired an opportunist’s goal and Seamus Callanan’s goal and point from play hinted at a bright winter in Croke Park- if Tipp’ could get back there. Playing with 14 men against such a forceful attacking side, they couldn’t.

The Galway defence had already got their hooks into the champions by the time that Barrett left, with Daithi Burke becoming prominent in the aerial battles and Shane Cooney and Gearoid McInerney reveling in the physical exchanges while Padraic Mannion had a huge influence on the second-half.

Corner back Aidan Harte swept forward to strike Galway's third goal, in the 67th minute, to give his team a 3-19 to 2-21 finish and although the Tipp 14 kept charging forward, there was a convincing solidity about Galway over the long period of injury-time. Joe Canning led the scoring, including the odd moment of outrageous skill in his haul of 0-14 while Cathal Mannion had 1-3 from play. Conor Whelan won a huge bounty of possession up front but Galway will need more than a combined 1-2 from their full forward line next weekend.

O'Neill was emphatic and brave in his switches, replacing both David Burke and Johnny Coen after a first-half during which both had done well and getting vital points from substitutes Sean Loftus and Jason Flynn. He also threw in the exciting Evan Niland when the game was white hot.

“We felt maybe the boys had put in a fair old shift,” he remarked.

“David is just coming back and Johnny had a particular job to do and did it brilliantly. Then we just felt bring a bit of impetus in and we brought the two boys in and they did excellently.Particularly playing the second week on the trot, we will probably have to empty the bench a lot earlier next week.”

While crestfallen with the result, Liam Sheedy emphasised his pride at the fact that his team had exited the stage in a way befitting champions. They were dogged to the last, going for broke with a Hail Mary free from goalkeeper Brian Hogan in the 73rd minute. Deep down, the Tipp collective probably realised they didn’t have the requisite energy to successfully defend their title this winter. But they kept asking questions until the end. If Sheedy had a small quibble, it was with the appointment of a Limerick referee, Johnny Murphy, for the match

“Ultimately the best team that had the most scores at the end of the match won. But a small bit of common sense in terms of appointments…you know there are loads of referees from Leinster and everywhere else.

“It is not sour grapes in any way shape or form and I don’t want to take away from Galway but I do think a little bit of understanding of not trying to compromise people and putting them in positions where various counties are still left in the championship or various counties are involved on the sideline…I just think it makes it a little bit trickier and I don’t think there was any need for it.

“But I want to be very clear. The best team won on the day. Galway deserve to go through to the All- Ireland semi-final. But unfortunately the first card was a big moment in the game because as a result of the second, then, we ended up being down a man and against a team like Galway you are going to pay the price.”

It's swings and roundabouts. Last August, Tipp benefitted when Kilkenny's Richie Hogan was red carded in the All-Ireland final for a challenge on Barrett. It all but decided the game just as the contest was getting going.

Galway were All-Ireland champions when Limerick came storming out of decades of frustration to startle the hurling world with their physical prowess and lightning attack rates. Both counties served up a gripping All-Ireland final that year, which was settled after Canning’s late and long, long free attempt fell just short. Hopes are high another occasion of high drama is on the cards but O’Neill gently batted away the theory of revenge.

“Yeah…ah, the lads don’t look back. So hopefully they are looking forward and we will be ok.”

GALWAY: 1 E Murphy, 2 A Harte (1-0), 3 D Burke, 4 S Cooney; 5 F Burke, 6 G McInerney, 7 J Cooney (0-1); 8 P Mannion, 9 J Coen (0-1); 10 J Canning (0-14, 12 frees, sideline), 12 D Burke, 11 C Mannion (1-3); 13 B Concannon (1-0), 14 C Cooney (0-1), 15 C Whelan (0-1). Subs: 22 J Flynn (0-1) for 12 D Burke (half-time), 20 A Tuohy for 9 J Coen (half-time), 19 S Loftus (0-1) for 5 F Burke (58 mins), 21 E Niland for 14 C Cooney (58 mins), 17 D Morrissey for 4 S Cooney (71 mins).

TIPPERARY: 1 B Hogan (0-1, free); 2 C Barrett, 6 B Maher, 7 P Maher; 3 R Maher (0-1, free), 5 N O'Meara (0-1), 21 B Heffernan (0-1); 4 A Flynn (0-2), 9 M Breen (0-2); 10 D McCormack (0-2), 8 N McGrath (0-4), 12 P Maher (1-0); 13 J Forde (0-6, five frees), 14 S Callanan (1-2, one free), 15 J Morris (0-1). Subs: 19 W Connors (0-1) for 12 P Maher (50 mins), 11 J McGrath for 8 N McGrath (53 mins), 18 P Cadell for 5 N O'Meara (59 mins), 20 P Flynn for 13, J Forde (65 mins), 22 M Kehoe for 10 D McCormack (72 mins),

Referee: J Murphy (Limerick).

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times