Tipperary 2-19 Galway 0-20
It’s only May but Liam Sheedy reckons it will be 2022 before Tipperary hurlers grace Semple Stadium again given the way neutral grounds are being used in the championship. By then we should have crowds back at games and, for the second time in three years, Tipperary will hope to have Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher back from serious surgery again and lining out in their attack.
The Lorrha clubman is not expected to see action again this season after suffering an Achilles injury in training which will require surgery on Wednesday. The 31-year old had made it back last season after suffering a cruciate injury in 2019 and Sheedy said this latest set-back was a huge blow to the player and to the Tipperary squad.
“He’s having surgery on Wednesday and it’s three or four months of recovery. I hope he can get back to a Lorrha jersey later in the year but if there’s one man who can come back it’s ‘Bonner’ Maher, he’s incredible.
“He’s an awful loss to the game. It’s a tough pill to swallow for us because he’s a really integral part of our set-up. He’s just a warrior, the fittest man in my panel,” said Sheedy.
The Tipperary man, who had to bring in goalkeeper Barry Hogan after Maher’s Lorrha teammate Brian Hogan was ruled out through concussion, could at least savour their first win of the 2021 campaign as they brought Galway’s winning start to an end in a decent contest on Saturday afternoon where both sides experimented a lot.
Galway manager Shane O’Neill selected Joe Canning at midfield for his first start of the season, having made nine changes to the side which ended Limerick’s 14-match unbeaten run the previous week, and the Portumna clubman could be utilised there a bit more this summer, particularly with Evan Niland continuing to establish himself in attack, this time off the bench.
“The last day we brought him on just to get a bit of freedom in the park,” said O’Neill about Canning’s new role. “We said we would do the same today, I thought he did some really good stuff today. Probably not as sharp as you would normally be come championship time, could have got three or four points. Overall, did very well I thought.”
Galway, having out five goals past Westmeath on the opening weekend, didn’t find the net for the second week in a row and rarely looked like getting.
“I suppose it always is a concern,” added O’Neill. “That is a two in a row now. It will have to be something that we are going to look at.”
He made nine changes as he continues to experiment in his second season but they finished with 14 when one of the new players Ja Mannion from Cappataggle was sent off for an off the ball incident with Cathal Barrett. O’Neill said it’s vital to use his panel.
“It is at the moment with the five matches in six weeks. We had game minutes in our head for various players so we had to make those changes because you just don’t want to risk over-loading injuries so those changes were made.
“Still we would expect to be able to drive on and we didn’t quite do it. With the sending off then as well and the short turnaround, you could see they had the better impact off the bench at that stage. Overall, pleased enough with the three weeks.”
Tipperary got their first goals of the season when Noel McGrath set up Jason Forde with an overhead pass to rattle the bet after six minutes. Forde, who gave Daithi Burke a torrid time in the opening half, then set up McGrath five minutes from the break to lead seven but Galway rattled off five points to leave it 2-7 to 0-11 at the break.
The sides were level three times in the third quarter before two efforts from Forde and a trademark long range effort from Ronan Maher pushed Tipperary 2-13 to 0-16 ahead after 62 minutes and while Galway got it back to a point going into stoppage time, two points from substitute Michael Breen helped Tipperary finish in a flourish.
Tipperary: Barry Hogan; C Barrett, P Maher, B Heffernan (0-1); R Byrne (0-1), S Kennedy, R Maher (0-2); A Flynn, P Cadell; D McCormack, N McGrath (1-2), D Quirke; J O'Dwyer (0-3), J Forde (1-5, four frees), J McGrath. Subs: P Fynn (0-1) for J McGrath (half-time), N O'Meara (0-1) for Quirke (half-time), B Maher (0-1) for Cadell (47), W Connors for A Flynn (47), J Morris for McCormack (55), M Breen (0-2) for N McGrath (60), B McGrath for Kennedy (65).
Galway: E Murphy; D Morrissey, D Burke, A Harte; TJ Brennan, P Mannion, A Tuohey; J Canning (0-8, six frees, one 45), J Coen (0-1); J Cooney, C Whelan (0-1), C Cooney (0-2); B Concannon (0-3), K Cooney (0-1), J Flynn (0-1, free). Subs: G McInerney for D Burke (49), N Burke for Flynn (49), J Fitzpatrick for Harte (55), C Mannion for J Cooney (55), E Niland (0-3, 0-2f) for Canning (55), J Mannion for K Cooney (57), J Hastings for C Cooney (69).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).