All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers Round 4A
Tipperary 4-12 Galway 4-17
The Tipperary footballers left O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday evening with their pride intact. There was the slightest sense of regret that the Tipp lads didn’t manage to perform like we know they can, but they did show an extraordinary pride in their work. Indeed, the glorious is built on such pride.
Having won the division four league title Peter Creedon’s fast-improving team frightened the life out of Cork before overwhelming Longford (2-17 to 0-6) and defeating qualifier specialists Laois (3-17 to 4-9) in Portlaoise. And, it would have been fitting to see the Premier take the scalp of a footballing blueblood like Galway and enjoy an opportunity to face Kerry in Croke Park. Alas, it was not to be, but Tipperary, in defeat, may have discovered something about themselves which could stand more significantly to this group in the long-term.
Following a systems failure of sorts Tipperary shipped a flurry of goals - two each either side of the half-time interval - and the game swung irrevocably in Galway’s favour.
Trailing Galway 0-8 to 4-10 by the 42nd minute Tipperary were floating face down in the water. The Tipp lads, however, treated each remaining minute as if the game were scoreless; they fought to the end and showed extraordinary pride in what they were trying to achieve.
In O’Connor Park Tipperary achieved not a victory, but the more bittersweet sensation of what Leonard Cohen once patented as “invincible defeat”. Tipperary never gave in - such an attitude is the dynamite with which a bright future can be built. In ways Tipperary’s response to certain defeat was more encouraging than any win could ever be.
Tipperary’s spirited late rally was something to behold - Peter Creedon’s team struck back with four goals from Brian Fox, Brian Mulvihill, Colin O’Riordan and Conor Sweeney. In an extraordinary display of raw guts the Tipperary lads dealt with their frustration, maintained their discipline and fought like men. Indeed, the Premier proceeded to out-score Galway 4-4 to 0-7 in a frantic conclusion to this qualifier.
Everything good about Tipperary was illustrated by the extraordinary performance of wing-back Colin O’Riordan. The JK Bracken’s man sparked this late surge with a fine point, featured in the build-up to Brian Mulvihill’s 64th minute goal, scored a goal of his own in the 67th minute and was simply relentless during this contest.
A match can’t be won in the opening half, but it certainly can be lost. Tipperary played well for long stages and deservedly led 0-6 to 0-4 after twenty-one minutes. When they consider that they kicked seven wides (Galway two) and dropped two efforts short during this period Peter Creedon’s men may curse their luck, especially since Galway would proceed to out-score them 2-3 to 0-1 during the remaining minutes of the opening half to earn a 2-7 to 0-7 interval advantage.
An exchange of four early wides suggested nerves before Paul Conroy gave Galway the lead in the sixth minute. Some smashing patient attacking play culminated when Robbie Kiely broke the line and set up Peter Acheson for the equalizer three minutes later.
A left-footer from Michael Martin edged Galway back in front before Philip Austin set up Peter Acheson for a second consecutive equalizer in the 13th minute.
A Conor Sweeney free presented Tipperary with the lead for the first time in the 14th minute and while Danny Cummins responded almost immediately for Galway the Tipp lads had begun to take control, especially in the middle third of the field.
Indeed, that dominance was franked in the 17th minute when Barry Grogan fed Steven O’Brien who performed a neat shimmy before landing a right-footed point. Then, in the 18th minute, Tipperary turned over the ball at left corner-back and four passes later (plus a smartly-taken free) Barry Grogan handed the Premier a 0-5 to 0-3 lead.
Michael Lundy hit back for Galway before Colin O’Riordan plundered a terrific point in the 21st minute - O’Riordan won a kick out and found Barry Grogan who by-passed the Galway sweeper with a terrific delivery into the hands of Conor Sweeney. O’Riordan charged forward in support and took the pass from Sweeney before kicking a mighty point - 0-6 to 0-4.
Tipperary now led the scoring-chances-created stat 14-7 and probably deserved a bigger lead.
Galway took advantage however of such profligacy and despite playing into the breeze won the remainder of the half on a 2-3 to 0-1 scoreline.
In the 27th minute Paul Conroy brought six scoreless minutes to close. Two minutes later Danny Cummins palmed a Paul Varley punt onto the Tipperary crossbar before Ciarán McDonald cleared the ball off the line.
A Shane Walsh point in the 30th minute tied the game at 0-6 apiece and although Tipperary had looked the better side during the opening half Michael Martin and Paul Conroy combined beautifully before setting up Fiontán Ó Curraoin for a stunning Galway goal in the 33rd minute.
Tipperary badly needed a score and found their first in thirteen minutes thanks to Michael Quinlivan to close the gap to two points before a Shane Walsh free restored Galway’s three-point advantage. The Tribesmen then struck for a second goal in the 38th minute when Michael Martin’s clever reverse pass created the room for Thomas Flynn to blast his side into a 2-7 to 0-7 lead. Both Galway midfielders had now helped themselves to vital goals; that pattern seemed more by design than by accident.
The Tipperary lads needed a little encouragement in the opening minutes of the second half, but, instead, suffered the ignominy of conceding two more goals in as many minutes.
After just fifty-one seconds Danny Cummins gathered Michael Lundy’s cross and planted his shot in the roof of Paul Fitzgerald’s net. Then, in the 32nd minute, Michael Quinlivan was isolated and turned over at right half-back; Michael Martin and Paul Conroy then poured forward before Michael Lundy was set-up for a simple finish. A minute later Michael Martin pointed from play and Tipp trailed by a cruel ten - 0-7 to 4-8.
The lion-hearted Colin O’Riordan landed a superb point in reply for a Tipperary team who looked a little shell-shocked. Indeed, Galway took further advantage with points from Shane Walsh (free) and Michael Martin forcing the Tribesmen fourteen points clear by the 42nd minute (0-8 to 4-10).
In an extraordinary display of raw guts the Tipperary lads dealt with their frustration, maintained their discipline and fought back like men. Indeed, the Premier proceeded to out-score Galway 4-4 to 0-7.
Points from Steven O’Brien and Conor Sweeney (free) sparked the revival before Philip Austin worked the ball to Brian Fox in the 47th minute and the Éire Óg Annacarty man sold a glorious dummy before firing home an outside-of-the-right-boot effort - 1-10 to 4-11.
A Shane Walsh point added to the Galway tally before Tipp ‘keeper Paul Fitzgerald saved a rasping Danny Cummins effort with twenty minutes to play. A Conor Sweeney free then reduced the deficit to ten points while Tipp were left cursing further misfortune in the 53rd minute when the influential Steven O’Brien was shown a black card.
While Tipperary reorganized Seán Armstrong and Damien Comer landed further Galway points to leave twelve between them (4-14 to 1-11) - ten different players had now scored from play for Alan Mulholland’s men.
With seven minutes to play a Conor Sweeney free preceded a Tipperary goal in the 64th minute - the relentless Colin O’Riordan sparked the move which also featured Peter Acheson before Brian Mulvihill thundered home a three-pointer.
Galway hit back with a point courtesy of Paul Conroy before ‘keeper Thomas Healy was asked to pull off a stunning save when Peter Acheson’s punched effort following a searching delivery from Seán Flynn looked destined for the bottom left-hand corner.
Undeterred Tipperary poured forward and in the 67th minute Conor Sweeney and George Hannigan combined before Hannigan picked out Colin O’Riordan who blasted a terrific right-footed goal - 3-12 to 4-15.
Two further Galway points (from Shane Walsh and Seán Armstrong) concluded the scoring from a Galway point of view. Tipp, however, fought manfully on and a foot block by Finian Hanley on Conor Sweeney in the 70th minute earned Tipperary a penalty which the Ballyporeen man emphatically converted.
Tipperary: Paul Fitzgerald (Fethard), John Coghlan (Moyne-Templetuohy), Paddy Codd (Killenaule, captain), Ciarán McDonald (Aherlow), Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s, 1-2), Robbie Kiely (Arravale Rovers), Ger Mulhair (Arravale Rovers), Steven O’Brien (Ballina, 0-1), George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers, 0-1), Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials, 0-1), Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty, 1-0), Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers, 0-2), Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen, 1-4, 0-4 frees, 1-0 penalty), Barry Grogan (Aherlow, 0-1), Philip Austin (Borrisokane). Subs: (32nd) Ian Fahey (Clonmel Commercials) for Ger Mulhair, (43rd) Colman Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials) for Michael Quinlivan, (50th) Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers) for Barry Grogan, (53rd) Hugh Coghlan (Moyne-Templetuohy) for Steven O’Brien, (61st) Brian Mulvihill (Moyle Rovers, 1-0) for Ian Fahey, (63rd) Seán Flynn (Fr Sheehy’s) for Philip Austin.
Galway: Tomás Healy, Dónal O’Neill, Finian Hanley, Joss Moore, Paul Varley (0-1), Gary O’Donnell, Gareth Bradshaw, Fiontán Ó Curraoin (1-0), Thomas Flynn (1-0), Michael Lundy (1-1), Shane Walsh (0-5, 0-3 frees), James Kavanagh, Michael Martin (0-3), Paul Conroy (0-3), Danny Cummins (1-1). Subs: (33rd) Daithí Burke for Gary O’Donnell, (50th) Seán Armstrong (0-2) for Danny Cummins, (56th) Adrian Varley (0-1) for Michael Martin, (58th) John O’Brien for Michael Lundy, (58th) Damien Comer (0-1) for James Kavanagh, (68th) Eddie Hoare for Shane Walsh.
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).