Joe Canning’s sideline stunner sees Galway squeeze past Tipperary

Sides level 12 times during the game before ace forward seals final spot for Tribesmen

Galway 0-22 Tipperary 1-18

The dependably oscillating rivalry between Galway and Tipperary continues to go this way and that. For the third year in a row, there was only a point to separate them in an All-Ireland semi-final. This time it was Galway's turn to be holding the parcel when the music stopped, inching into the final with a 74th-minute point from the Cusack Stand sideline by Joe Canning.

Yet again, these two teams matched each other play for play and score for score. They’re Thelma and Louise at this stage, taking each other by the hand and careering off into the unknown, unable to let each other go. They came at each other in waves here, Galway to the fore early on, Tipp leapfrogging them once they got their bearings. Occasionally you got the sense that one of them would break free but no sooner had we thought it than we thought better of it.

This was tense and hectic and bewitching, all that good stuff. The teams were level 12 times across the afternoon. At no stage in the game was there more than the puck of a ball between them. At no point could you have been sure of your ground when it came to who’d prevail.

Conor Whelan was alight for Galway, zipping in and out and around and daring the Tipp defenders to lay a finger on him. Mickey Cahill tried for a while but as soon as Whelan landed his second point soon after the quarter-hour mark, Tipp sent Donagh Maher over to see what he could do about it. Whelan was unruffled by the switch and had another on the board before half-time. Though quieter in the second half, he ended the day with four.

At the other end, Séamus Callanan continued his habit of pushing the Galway full-back line to their limit. They’re getting closer to an answer – and by no means would you say Callanan was able to lord it here like he has in other years – but he still made himself the focal point of most of Tipp’s attacks. Even when he was blocked twice in the first half, he regathered and sent a couple of snapshots between the posts.

Tipp got out to a 0-4 to 0-1 start but once Galway upped the temperature, they hauled them in with ominous ease. Whelan, Johnny Coen, Conor Cooney and Cathal Mannion speared points from all angles to put them 0-5 to 0-4 up in 15 minutes. When Whelan stooped for a brilliant low take and swished another soon after, Galway were motoring.

Then two things happened. First, Paudie Maher made a 40-60 ball his own over Niall Burke, gathered the scraps and knocked over his first of the day. In the next breath, Seamie Callanan found space 30 metres out and when he scuffed his shot, the play seemed to be over.

But Bonner Maher caused a mix-up between goalkeeper Colm Callanan and corner-back Adrian Tuohy, John McGrath nipped in to take advantage of the confusion and his low shot put Tipp 1-6 to 0-8 ahead. In keeping with the usual death dance, Galway equalised immediately, Johnny Coen nailing it on the run from the puck-out.

Back and forth, forth and back. Callanan wriggled for a goal chance after a Daithí Burke slip but his first time pull hit Colm Callanan square on the chest. Brendan Maher landed a free from Clonliffe Road to inch Tipp one ahead. Canning, who had been anonymous up to then, blazed into the game by levelling Michael Breen with a shoulder and slicing the resultant sideline cut over the bar from 50 metres.

When we caught our breath, it meant a 1-10 to 0-12 lead for Tipperary at the break. But, naturally enough, Galway were level again within 20 seconds of the restart through Joseph Cooney. And so it went. Callanan and Canning swapped frees. Whelan hoisted his fourth of the day, Pádraic Maher hooshed a massive one in response. With 49 minutes on the clock, Tipp were one to the good.

Goal chances came on either side. Conor Cooney and Joe Canning whipped theirs wide, Colm Callanan diving to his left to deflect a half-hit one from Noel McGrath. Gearóid McInerney was starting to dominate around the middle of the Galway defence and when he burst out to feed Canning for a gorgeous score on 54 minutes, Galway were one ahead.

Every score was worth a point and a half at this stage. Bubbles O’Dwyer knifed a must-not-miss effort from the sideline, Canning replied by potting a 65. Seamie Callanan, by contrast, missed two 65s. This was not the day to spill that class of opportunity.

Into the final 10 minutes and Galway were 0-19 to 1-15 ahead. They were by inches the better side and, similarly by inches, not quite making it count. Darren Gleeson batted away a Jason Flynn effort, Canning slid a loose one past the left-hand Tipp post. John McGrath had a chance to equalise at the other end. No room for error. No error.

But Canning was in the groove now. He strolled back into his own half to nail a free from 90 metres and Galway led into injury-time. Brendan Maher responded in kind in the 72nd minute from around midfield. A replay beckoned. Tick, tick, tick.

But there was no show. There was only the Joe show. Another improbably long free fell in the Tipp square and when Coen gathered the clearance out around midfield, the Galway midfielder had the presence of mind to pause and see if there was anyone on his shoulder. He must have smiled when he saw Canning looming up. A flick pass, a strike and the place went into orbit.

Galway go to another final, Tipp go home to another one-in-a-row. The rest of us go and lie down.

GALWAY: 1 Colm Callanan; 2 Adrian Tuohy, 3 Daithi Burke, 4 John Hanbury; 5 Pádraic Mannion, 6 Gearóid McInerney, 7 Aidan Harte; 8 J Coen (0-2), 9 David Burke (capt); 14 Niall Burke, 11 Joe Canning (0-11, six frees, one lineball, one 65), 12 Joseph Cooney (0-2, one free); 13 Conor Whelan (0-4), 15 Conor Cooney (0-2), 10 Cathal Mannion (0-1).

Subs: 22 Jason Flynn for N Burke (45 mins), 26 Jonathan Glynn for C Mannion (53 mins), 24 Shane Moloney for C Cooney (70 mins).

TIPPERARY: 1 Darren Gleeson; 2 Donagh Maher, 3 James Barry, 4 Michael Cahill; 5 Séamus Kennedy (0-1), 6 Ronan Maher, 7 Pádraic Maher (capt; 0-2); 8 Brendan Maher (0-3, two frees), 9 Michael Breen; 10 Dan McCormack 11 Noel McGrath (0-2), 11 Patrick Maher; 15 John McGrath (1-1), 14 Séamus Callanan (0-5, three frees), 13 John O'Dwyer (0-3).

Subs: 18 Jason Forde (0-1) for Breen (34 mins), 26 Niall O'Meara for Forde (62 mins).