Nicky English: Galway displaying something not seen for long time

There’s a confidence emanating from the Flynns and the Mannions and it’s spreading

Galway’s Cathal Mannion celebrates after the final whistle. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Galway’s Cathal Mannion celebrates after the final whistle. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

I remember Anthony Cunningham’s words to me on the Wednesday after the Leinster final. He was happy with that performance and was confident Galway would improve significantly over the following weeks and months.

Not many people believed him but here’s the vindication.

Tipperary were not allowed fall back on past experiences to survive Galway’s overwhelming desire to reach the All-Ireland final. Not even Noel McGrath could save them.

The pressure heaped on Tipp’s half back line of Ronan Maher, Kieran Bergin and particularly Pádraic Maher proved the cornerstone for victory. Maher usually dominates games like this but he was bottled up, hooked and forced into error. Galway turned a primary Tipperary strength into a glaring weakness.

At one stage Maher was forced to scoop possession out over the sideline while Johnny Glynn hooked him in the last minute of normal time, leading directly to Mannion levelling the score.

McGrath hit what seemed to be the winner for Tipp only for Flynn to respond before Shane Moloney finished them off.

The three minutes of injury time were a microcosm of the entire game.

Tipp hardly created a scoring opportunity, but Galway had a wide from Jason Flynn and they had Moloney’s shot across the goal while Iarla Tannian led their insatiable hunger to win every single ball.

Superb game

Joe Canning

Second Captains

There ended a superb game, which had everything that draws people to the sport, and while a draw would have been great so we could see them go at each other again, Galway were the better team after conceding 1-1 in the opening minute.

Cunningham chose to put Pádraig Mannion on Seamus Callanan and the corner back was skinned for the first goal after just 40 seconds. I’m surprised it took another 57 minutes and Callanan’s 3-4 from play before John Hanbury was switched onto him.

At least Galway responded to each goal with instant points. That was important.

But if Galway had lost that would have been the stick that beat them. They were replica goals. Route one, down on top of the pair of them, with Callanan making all three catches cleanly over the inexperienced fullback before turning to plunder a hat-trick without much fuss.

Maybe they felt Mannion was still the best man for a thankless task. If fairness, Hanbury was unable to stop Seamie grabbing the next ball in. He dragged him down for a penalty and took the yellow card. What they needed to do was erect some protection in front of Mannion or Hanbury but there was none as Tannian got pulled away from centre back.

Those goals alone kept Tipp in the game but I don’t see how Galway would have survived without Colm Callanan’s magnificent save of Lar Corbett’s snap shot and Seamie Callanan’s penalty.

Granted it took Galway a good 30 minutes to really find their flow but the difference with this team from other years is their collective work rate. That kept them afloat until the hurling of Flynn and Cathal Mannion in particular took hold.

Tipp looked in trouble at half-time. That Galway hadn’t really got into their stride, yet still led by a point, showed just how dominant they were in midfield. Andy Smith played his part but the returning David Burke was the real difference.

Tipp needed to stop them finding that irresistible rhythm of theirs. Like Kilkenny managed in the Leinster final. Cork couldn’t do it. Dublin did the first day but couldn’t get near them in Tullamore.

Both their pace and power must be matched. Tipp struggled in this regard but Callanan’s goals delivered a classic to stand alongside any All-Ireland semi-final.

Only for that Galway would have cut them loose. Flynn, who was fantastic, and Canning missed important points late on. Joe also had his first half penalty saved, while another goal chance was easily stopped when he could have taken a point.

That left it set up perfectly for Noel McGrath’s fairy-tale return. His excellent point in the 70th minute looked like the winner but Galway really tore into those three minutes of injury time. That showed the character of Cunningham’s panel.

Head of steam

Conor Whelan

Galway have been downtrodden for 27 years. Even in 2012 they hadn’t built the head of steam that is there now. There’s a confidence emanating from the Flynns and the Mannions but running throughout the entire county now.

It was Galway’s work rate that got the maroon-clad people out of their seats.

Tipp, to their credit, didn’t allow them into fifth gear, but that gear does exist. They will need to prove as much against Kilkenny. But they know this better than anyone. They are a better team than the one we saw lose the Leinster final.

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