Late goals help Tipperary shade titanic battle with Galway
Tipp set up another showdown with Kilkenny as Galway rue Joe Canning injury
Tipperary’s John McGrath celebrates scoring his goal. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Tipperary 2-19 Galway 2-18
Like some weird game of chicken, this high-wire All-Ireland hurling semi-final may have been all the more exhilarating for Tipperary because they came so close to not surviving it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In the end, two late goals killed Galway instead.
A year ago they came out of Munster, favourites to dust down the same opponents and renew battle with Kilkenny.
But their opponents proved reluctant to co-operate and in a welter of excitement scored a winner with virtually the last puck of the match.
The same player Shane Maloney closed out the scoring this year as well but the Galway replacement on this occasion was simply cutting the deficit to a single point, which is where it remained to propel the Munster champions into the final after an equally exciting match.
For long periods it looked like Galway were going to stay in front despite the ruinous loss of their most celebrated player when Joe Canning had to be replaced at half-time with a hamstring injury.
Also withdrawn at the break was Adrian Tuohy, with a suspected broken elbow. He had been playing well in a defensive effort that had impressively corralled the Munster champions.
None the less Tipperary continued to dice with death up until a two-goal barrage just after an hour put them in control on the scoreboard and even then they didn’t score again, as the match ticked away and Galway frantically tore a couple of points off the margin to leave it at the minimum.
Overall it was an unsure display from the team that had dominated the Munster championship.
They were at times hesitant, losing the rucks to their opponents and gave away ball – including turnovers for both the Galway goals – and when the road opened for them at the end they shot a variety of wides to keep survival a viable option for their opponents.
That level of adversity was compounded by the capping of the Séamus Callanan well, the rich resource which had yielded six goals in the two previous matches with Galway.
When they went well, Tipperary went very well. In the early stages they overcame the concession of a seventh-minute goal to Conor Cooney – who went on to have a good match, filling in for Canning on the frees after half-time – with a sequence of five points from Michael Breen, again announcing himself prolifically at centrefield, the McGrath brothers, Noel – who also rapped a shot off the crossbar – and a couple of frees from Callanan for the second of which Daithí Burke was yellow carded.
Canning equalised with three points of his own before his day took its first turn for the worse when he had to go off with a blood injury after getting a mighty rattle from Pádraic Maher’s shoulder near the sideline in the 24th minute.
Galway’s re-established ascendancy on the scoreboard took the sting out of Tipperary and the first half ambled to a conclusion with points here and there but the underdogs two in front at the interval.
The substitutions created a gloomy context for the resumption and Callanan had equalised within two minutes.
Play remained scrappy and Galway continued to offer a threat.
The Munster champions’ defence, which had looked so robust and coherent during the provincial campaign, was leaky and unconvincing at times but Galway were playing conservatively and having their own difficulties sustaining the pressure even with reasonable possession.
Soaring riposteBrendan MaherJoseph Cooney
Encouragingly for Michael Ryan, Tipp once again covered the break on the scoreboard – the third point a soaring riposte off the Galway puck-out to level the match for the eighth time.
The Westerners were still getting change from their opponents’ defence. Cathal Barrett, excellent in Munster, was less steady here under pressure from Conor Cooney and it was full back James Barry who provided most composure in defence.
Had Tipperary decided to role play a crisis, they could hardly have come up with anything more convincing than the sight of Galway through the livewire Conor Whelan putting two points between the teams, a margin that persisted until the 61st minute.
One of the interesting subplots of the match had been the decision by Ryan to leave out All Star John O’Dwyer, presumably as a reprimand for getting sent off in the Munster semi-final.
The point having been made, O’Dwyer appeared in the 45th minute and Galway’s Geiger counter began to click.
John McGrath had been the most threatening of the forwards from the start, forcing a save from Colm Callanan five minutes after half-time, and he and O’Dwyer linked up for the first goal, in the 61st minute – the latter firing in the shot from the tightest of angles that restored the lead for Tipp.
Less than two minutes later, McGrath was on the end of a move from a Callanan pass to make it 2-19 to 2-16 – Conor Cooney having equalised in the interim.
The conclusion was frantic and featured distracted moments from both teams – a wide by the hard-working Patrick Maher and a shot dropped short by the equally industrious David Burke, the standout centrefielder on the day.
In the end it was a fumble by Galway replacement David Collins that relieved the pressure on Tipperary, leaving them with plenty to work on in the next three weeks but crucially and unlike last year, every reason to do so.
They will be happy and relieved to undertake the task.
TIPPERARY: Darren Gleeson; Cathal Barrett, James Barry, Michael Cahill; Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher (0-1), Pádraic Maher (0-1); Brendan Maher (0-1), Michael Breen (0-3); Dan McCormack, Patrick Maher, Noel McGrath (0-3); John McGrath (1-1), Seamus Callanan (0-9, eight frees, one 65), Niall O’Meara.
Subs: Tomás Hamill for Pádraic Maher (blood, 24-26 mins); John O’Dwyer (1-0) for O’Meara (45 mins); Jason Forde for N McGrath (57 mins); Seán Curran for Breen (68 mins); Hamill for Kennedy (71 mins).
GALWAY: Colm Callanan; Aidan Harte, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury; Pádraic Mannion, David Burke (0-1), Gearóid McInerney; Johnny Coen, Adrian Tuohy; Cathal Mannion, Joseph Cooney (1-1), Joe Canning (0-5, three frees, one 65); Conor Cooney (1-6, four frees), Conor Whelan (0-2), Jason Flynn (0-2).
Subs: Andy Smith for Canning (blood, 24-26 mins); Smith for Tuohy, Cyril Donnellan for Canning (both half-time); Shane Maloney (0-1) for Whelan, Niall Burke for Mannion (both 66 mins); David Collins for Harte (68 mins).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).