Tipperary shellshocked as Galway storm to 10th league title

Title decider sees All-Ireland champions suffer worst day under Michael Ryan

Galway 3-21 Tipperary 0-14

Out of nowhere came Galway to claim a first Allianz League in seven years, their 10th. Well, not quite nowhere; they are the third side from Division 1B – home of champions – to win the title and in their case they weren't even promoted this season.

In Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds before 16,089, they started the stronger against the team reckoned by consensus to be a step ahead of everyone. In fact, Galway flattered them by not taking early chances to disappear out of sight.

Then, in the second half, the goals came: two from Jason Flynn, the first within 50 seconds of the restart. And with Joe Canning in masterful form (0-9, one wide) and Conor Whelan a productive apprentice (five points from play) they buried the favourites without remorse.


The whole coup against the All-Ireland champions was more reminiscent of those championship days years ago when Galway used to sidle in to Croke Park in August not having played a serious match since the spring, and unleash destruction on teams who had emerged from high-profile provincial championships.

Manager Micheál Donoghue, who handles his words in post-match interview environments like a bomb disposal expert, was quick to remind everyone that it was “only April”. However, this display and result – the biggest winning margin in a league final since Galway lost to the same opposition 38 years ago – has transformed the championship from a perceived procession to a far more enticing mad scramble.

Tipperary manager Michael Ryan was at a loss to explain how his team, which incinerated Wexford in 10 minutes the previous week – the same Wexford that had beaten Galway to deny them promotion earlier in the campaign – had fallen so flat. It was he said, the "flattest" display the team had given during his two seasons to date in charge.


The undeniable strengths of Tipperary were only vaguely discernible. Their half backs, the core of the team, were hustled and pressurised by Canning, Flynn and Joseph Cooney. The Maher brothers won their share of ball but the defence in general was prone to coughing up possession and the relentlessness of Galway's harrying forced errors.

David Burke has been the most influential centrefielder in big matches between the counties in recent years. That trend wasn't disturbed as he went about his business as usual, well supported by Johnny Coen, and Brendan Maher struggled to stay in their slipstream. At one stage in the second quarter, Galway won six Tipperary puck-outs in succession.

Although Ryan said that the proposed disciplinary issue hanging over Jason Forde hadn't been an issue for the team, he conceded that it might have had an impact on the player, who was so subdued he could ask the CHC to take the match into account if they do hand down a suspension.

But it was up front that things went most awry for Tipperary. John McGrath, menacing over the past year, was so reduced by Galway's high-energy hounding of the striker out the field and the claustrophobic attentions of Galway's full backs – led by an excellent Daithi Burke – that he relied on a deflected shot in the final injury time to register his first point from play.

Their half backs – Aidan Harte, especially lively in getting up for two points during the match – bullied the Tipp half forwards into mistakes and ineffectiveness and Steven O'Brien, a moderately encouraging league behind him, was airlifted out before half-time.

Anxious start

It was uncharacteristic dead-ball lapses by McGrath that got Tipp off to an anxious start. Had the points gone over they might have exerted a bit more pressure on opponents who took time to find their own range. Once they did, though, they took command.

Galway were simply too competitive. They didn't allow wides to disrupt them, kept creating chances and, in the second quarter, began to take them. Whelan sniped for a point, Flynn tore through and brought a fine save from Darren Gleeson at the cost of a converted 65 by Canning, and when Tipp punctuated the gathering storm with a score of their own, their opponents replied: Canning shooting three in reply to Brendan Maher's 24th-minute point.

At half-time it was 0-11 to 0-5 and as soon as the second half started, the contest finished. Flynn raced in on goal in the opening moments of the second half to crack the ball past Gleeson.

There was still no let-up from Galway. Tipperary eked out a score here and there but it was like hoping a bathroom leak would put out a fire. Flynn all but waltzed in for another goal in the 57th minute, out-running Michael Cahill on the left sideline and side-stepping James Barry and in the 67th. Cathal Mannion, who had struggled with his shooting, flew through the centre and whipped in a fine goal on the run.

Patrick Maher got a run on his return from army duty abroad but this mission was irretrievable by the time he arrived.

GALWAY: 1. C Callanan; 2. A Tuohy, 3. Daithi Burke, 4. P Killeen; 5. P Mannion, 6. G McInerney, 7. A Harte (0-2); 9. David Burke (capt; 0-1), 8. J Coen (0-1); 14. C Mannion (1-1), 11. J Canning (0-9, two 65s, three frees), 12. J Cooney; 10. J Flynn (2-1), 24. N Burke, 13. C Whelan (0-5). Subs: 21. J Glynn for Canning (63 mins), 17. J Hanbury for Daithi Burke (67 mins), 15. C Donnellan for N Burke (68 mins), 25. T Monaghan (0-1) for Flynn (70 mins), 19. S Loftus for Killeen (71 mins).

TIPPERARY: 1. D Gleeson; 2. C Barrett, 3. J Barry, 4. M Cahill; 5. S Kennedy, 6. R Maher (0-2, frees), 7. P Maher (capt); 8. B Maher (0-1), 9. J Forde; 10. D McCormack, 11. M Breen (0-2), 12. S O'Brien; 13. N McGrath (0-2), 14. J O'Dwyer (0-1, free), 15. J McGrath (0-6, five frees). Subs: 25. N O'Meara for O'Brien (32mins). 22. Patrick Maher for O'Dwyer  (46 mins), 20. T Hamill for Cahill (60 mins), 19. P Flynn for Forde (60 mins), 26. D Quinn for N McGrath (67 mins).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times